I was eight-years-old when I bought my first Spice Girls CD. I’d drown out my father’s gospel music on car rides with their Motown-inspired medleys like “Stop” and Latin-infused dance numbers like “Spice Up Your Life,” on my Sony Walkman. I’d put on lip-synced performances for my parents, forcing my little sister to serve as my backup dancer, our living room’s hunter green carpet serving as a stage. The kitchen of our double wide, with its tiled, linoleum floors, seated dozens of stuffed animals, a captive audience. As a little girl growing up in a Southern Baptist home, there weren’t many opportunities to explore things like “equality” and “empowerment” and “sisterhood.”
When people ask me why I’m a feminist, I spout off names like Gloria Steinem and Bell Hooks, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Bette Davis, but those are women I came to know later, when I grew up and left home and embraced a world bigger than my backyard. Those women and their words gave language to a feeling, to a sense of self that existed long before it was actually vocalized.
The first time I heard the word “feminist” wasn’t until college, when I was in a seminar about Gothic romance in 18th century English literature. It seems bizarre to me now, that a word that so entirely makes up my being, that defines my core beliefs, the way I perceive the world and one that’s currently plastered in the headlines of our 24-hour news cycle, felt so foreign to me then, its taste so strange on my tongue.
It might seem strange and silly and somewhat childish to trace the roots of feminism, at least my idea of feminism, back to a ’90s pop group that consisted of members with pseudonyms like “Baby,” “Sporty,” and “Posh,” but if this #MeToo movement, this third, fourth, fifth, whatever-the-fuck wave of feminism we’re riding right now has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t let patriarchal concepts that consistently leak into our collective acceptance of what “equality,” and “consent,” and “girl power” actually mean color my own experiences.
So I’ll say this, the Spice Girls are part of the reason why I became a feminist, and that rumored reunion tour — the one we’re all dusting off our Buffalo platform shoes and pulling out our knockoff Union Jack dresses for — couldn’t have come at a better time. Even if Victoria Beckham denied the possibility over the weekend, reunions like this come with a lot of back and forth, so we’re just going to keep hoping for now.
The last few weeks have been rough for women. That’s a ridiculous sentence. The last few hundred years have been rough for women, but when Hollywood’s #MeToo movement emerged last year it felt like a small victory, one we could hold up to our ancestors — women who came before us and died for things like voting rights and bodily autonomy and consent — and say, “Look. We did that.”