My father manages risk for a living. He looks at a stock, does a cost-and-benefit analysis, and advises people on where to put their money. His work has to do with finances, but this risk-averse nature is brought home. Whenever I want to jump into a new activity situation , my father always wants to analyze the risk involved and use all the data/statistics available. I have grown to hate this.
I don’t disagree with using statistics and data to do research. I believe they have their place in life. But I strongly disagree with letting risk stop me from doing something. While I’m not going to do something that will almost certainly hurt me with no possible reward (like driving without a seatbelt), I don’t believe in letting the presence of risk prevent me from an opportunity where there is a chance for a reward. I’m a strong proponent of “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.”
Before you think that this post is personal and has nothing to do with feminism, let me explain. I’ve adopted this “take the risk to get a great reward” approach to my feminism. When I first began to identify myself publicly as a feminist, I got a lot of pushback. My family told me that I wouldn’t ever be able to find a guy who would date a feminist, and I would lose friends for my strong beliefs. My friends thought I was crazy. But I wanted to express my beliefs, and guess what? I am still reaping the rewards. I have learned more about the world, and my eyes have been opened to so many different issues that I now feel incredibly passionate about. I have become a stronger, more impassioned debater and speaker, and I certainly have learned more about other cultures than I ever would have learned within the walls of my school.
The point I’m making here is that, with feminism, you often have to take a risk to get a reward. It’s a risk to express your views publicly, but you are met with a mostly open community, willing to help you learn. It’s a risk to educate yourself and perhaps learn some things that make you uncomfortable (ie; learning about privilege can make you feel guilty), but it makes you a better person. I’m advocating for a risky approach to feminism: Take the biggest risks you can take. You’ll never know if you can fly if you don’t take the leap.