I’ve always known I was a “bad feminist”
Art By Grace
I like songs by people I shouldn’t. The lyrics are derogatory to females, and yet I can’t get over the beat. And I laugh at minor sexist jokes, jokes that society has taught me to laugh at, jokes that I can’t help but laugh but I know I probably shouldn’t. I feel insecure about my knowledge of football because maybe I know more than the stereotypical female and I don't want to be caught saying something wrong; I don’t want to be looped into the group of people that know nothing, people like women who, according to men, know “nothing of sports”. It’s taken me almost 17 years of my life to realize what “white feminism” is and I’m ashamed of that. And when a woman I know is acting particularly moody, sometimes, just sometimes, in my head my first thought is that it’s their time of the month. I’m terrible at times. I know.
I want to fly the flag of feminism and let the world know of my frustrations with everyday sexism and oppression, for all women, and for all types of women, but beneath the surface, I am a web of confusion and contradictions. Recently I read the essay collection “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay and I was swept away but how similar we feel. We may not have all of the same opinions but her inner struggle of trying to be the best feminist she could be really resonated with me.
“Like most people, I’m full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like shit for being a woman.” (Gay)
Like Gay, I want to be a feminist. It’s a movement about equality. Equality for sexes, races, sexualities and all groups of people. It’s about progression. It’s hard for me to believe that some women are not feminists. I’m tired of being called cruel names for rejecting a guy (because god forbid I say no to someone that has been rude to me, poor men) or being told to “let the men speak”. I’m tired of hearing about the violence of the transgender community in the news. I’m tired about hearing of the oppression of women like, and unlike, me. I’m tired of the everyday sexism experienced by women. I wish it would all end. The thing is, I’m sometimes I afraid it never will.
The problem is in identifying as a feminist. “The F word” they call it. It’s almost scary to adopt. I identify as a feminist, but sometimes I worry what others will think of this identification. I cringe when I hear female celebrities say they are not feminists because they are not “man-haters”. That’s not what it is at all and yet that’s what everyone perceives it to be. Some use it as an insult. For whatever reason, the movement has somehow garnered a negative connotation.
“When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.” (Gay)
Every time a women tries to speak her mind, there is always someone there to call her “radical”. A “feminazi”, the popular term that’s used. When one woman who identifies as a feminist becomes an example, that’s where we lose ourselves. Because that one woman becomes an example of how we should or should not be. I think that sometimes we judge ourselves based on what others like us do.
Because I shave does that make me a bad feminist?
Some feminists don’t shave?
Are they good feminists?
The problem is that there is not just one “type of feminism”. Therefore, one woman, or group of women, cannot be the example of an entire cause.
“We don’t all have to believe in the same feminism. Feminism can be pluralistic so long as we respect the different feminisms we carry with us, so long as we give enough of a damn to try to minimize the fractures among us.” (Gay)
It’s reassuring to know that my “bad feminism” is still a type of feminism. It’s the type of feminism that most people adopt honesty. None of us is perfect, and we cannot expect ourselves to be. I always want to be better, but there is not one “perfect feminist” for me to look up to. I simply must be the best I can be. If that means that I make innocent mistakes every day, but still try to promote equality, then I am okay with that.
“I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.” (Gay)
I highly recommend reading Roxane Gay’s book to gain a greater understanding of the variability of feminism and the effects of everyday sexism.