The video below shows the spoken version of this piece, which I had originally written as the ensemble script included below. I performed this during my freshman year at an event called Breaking the Silence, hosted by the Student Assembly to raise awareness of the struggles faced by sexual assault survivors on Cornell's campus.
For the first two scenes, characters should react to the word “feminist” the same way they would react to the word “bitch.”
Two guys at a party see two girls dancing.
Guy 1: Whoa, check out that girl over there… she’s mad cute.
Guy 2: Which girl?
Guy 1: That’s one dancing over there. I think I’m gonna go… (starts to move towards girl)
Guy 2: Wait, that girl? Dude, don’t go talk to her. She’s kind of a… feminist.
Guy 1: What? Her? I mean she doesn’t look feminist-y…
Guy 2: I know, but she has a reputation.
Guy 1: Okay… I don’t think you should call women that though. It’s really offensive.
Guy 2: Just helping you out, buddy.
Switch to a guy and a girl sitting facing each other in chairs. A waiter comes up to the Guy.
Waiter: Here is your check, sir. (leaves)
Girl: Let me get it, babe.
Guy: No I’ll pay, don’t worry about it.
Girl: Seriously, you paid last time. Let me get it this time.
Guy: Babe, I’m paying. I’m a good boyfriend, I’m gonna pay.
Girl: It’s totally fine to let the girl pay sometimes, too!
Guy: Alright, Feminist.
Girl: What did you call me?
Guy: I dunno, you’re just sounding kind of like a feminist right now.
Girl: Holy shit. I can’t believe you would call me that.
Guy: Can I just pay so we can leave?
Girl: Sure, whatever, you pay. I’m leaving. (gets up and leaves)
Switch to two girls talking.
Girl 1: I support women and everything, but I’m not a feminist.
Girl 2: I know, feminism is pretty outdated. We can vote and get jobs and go to college and stuff now.
Girl 1: Right. Besides, I hate it when guys think I’m a feminist. It’s such a turn-off.
Girl 2: I don’t want anyone to think I have a problem with them holding the door for me, or paying for me, or thinking I look sexy.
Girl 1: Right! I don’t have a problem with those things!
Girl 2: So don’t call me a feminist just because I don’t think the girl who got raped at the party was “asking for it.”
Girl 1: Don’t call me a feminist just because I’m proud of my girlfriends for doing big things and standing up for themselves.
Girl 2: Exactly. Don’t call me a feminist.
Girl 1: Don’t call me a feminist.
One girl, speaking to the audience.
So, I’m a feminist. So I stand here in front of you with my breasts and my vagina, my wide hips and soft lips, my small but powerful hands and feet, to tell you that I deserve the rights as a woman in the workplace, in schools, and in the home that I don’t yet have. I don’t yet have them, and I shouldn’t have to tell you this. So I recognize that the rights that women have attained here, in this country, have yet to be gained by women elsewhere in the world, or closer to home than you might expect. So I look up to the women who stood up for themselves and thereby stood up for me. And I thank them because they are the reason I can go to college, get a high-level job, and vote. You call me a feminist like it is poison, like it is acid on your tongue. You call me a feminist like I am a lost cause, like I could have been a wonderful woman, a great girlfriend, if only I wasn’t this one word: the f-word. Don’t call me a feminist, because that is not who I am.
Another girl, stepping forward.
Call me a feminist. Call me a feminist because I don’t hate or insult men, but I am proud of being a woman. Call me a feminist because I fight for women’s equality, not sovereignty, and because I know we don’t have it yet. Call me a feminist because I am not militant, but I am strong and loud. I am smart and determined. Call me a feminist because in the immediate future my sisters and I, across the globe, will have rights over our own bodies. We will have the opportunity to be with whomever we love, or to live without anyone else. And we will be able to have sex or be intimate with many more people along the way without being called sluts or whores. Call me a feminist, and I will proudly tell you, “yes, I am.”
A guy, stepping forward.
I am a feminist. I am a man and I am a feminist and it doesn’t matter if I’m straight or gay or anything in between. I am a feminist because I have a mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, or friend who still does not have job security simply because she has the potential to bear children. Who is made to feel that her intelligence is less important than her figure, and who, despite everything, is still asked what she was wearing on the night she was raped by someone she thought she could trust. I am a feminist because when someone tells me I run like a girl, I say “Thank you. My sister just finished her second Boston Marathon. What about you?” When I hear, “Stop being a pussy,” I almost feel bad for that guy, because I see every girl around him cringe a little bit, and put that guy on her “don’ts list”. And when someone says anything starting with “Women can’t…” I know they’re wrong because I have seen a thousand women who can. I am a feminist to make sure there are a billion more.
Feminism is not the F-word.
It is not the goal.
It is the process that will continue, as long as it takes.
I am a feminist and I will not be silent.
I originally wrote this piece for Ordinary People Theater troupe. However, a day after I finished it, we had a request for a spoken-word piece to be performed at a Student Assembly event for sexual violence awareness, and I was given the opportunity to perform. I adapted the three breakout monologues through the end into a single monologue and performed it at this event, called Breaking the Silence.
It's funny, though, because I probably would not write this same piece today. At the time, the word "feminist" was controversial, even on Cornell's campus; today, this skit would seem over-dramatic for the intended context. This skit also reminds me of how my style has changed, moving away from didactic theater and into (hopefully) more compassionate theater.