Depression as feminism.

I’ve had this thought for awhile that I’m only really a feminist (at least in some ways) because of my experience with depression. They’re not equivalent. Feminism is an idea that all people have to be treated as people (easily stated, apparently hard to achieve). Depression is a mental illness that robs people of life, of vitality. I imagine that women that have experienced harassment or more could become depressed because of their experiences, but that’s not quite what I’m getting at (in fact, depression doesn’t really care who you are or where or life circumstance, it can affect you, period). Living under the cloud of a culture that does not treat women fairly (people fairly, really) is sort of like being depressed. It can rob people of their vitality. If only because they spend energy and effort to explain a culture that is limiting to them.

Depressed people can have success. Women in our culture also succeed. Both carry a heavy rock to move through an often vague fog of oppression to success (however an individual defines it).

I’m not claiming to understand what it’s like to be a woman in the US (let alone anywhere in the world) because I’ve had a rough time with depression– I will likely never be harassed or have rape threatened against me for stating an opinion. But I do think I’ve experienced the feeling of ‘less than’; of an oppressive world. Except that I was my own repressor and women have the unfortunate experience that is other people (especially men). At least these are the things I understand feminists are trying to improve in our culture.

I’m not some great feminist crusader (ally in training, at best), but I do think my experiences with depression are my window into empathizing with them. I suppose depression and feminism have another thing in common; the stigma against them. One that does seem to lessen over time.

My hope is that we’re experiencing the extinction burst of both patriarchy and the stigma against mental health.



Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

3 thoughts on “Depression as feminism.”

  1. Wonderful post. I’ve been thinking about oppression that stems from traits we are born with, especially gender and ethnicity, and how marginalization in one area can facilitate compassion in the other. I appreciate your perspective of being a white male who has struggled with depression, and the empathy you now feel towards gender inequality. These intersectional conversations can be challenging, but we need to have them in order to push through a make a more just world. Bravo!

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