At some point, I got it into my head that a feminist was a certain kind of woman. I bought into grossly inaccurate myths about who feminists are – militant, perfect in their politics and person, man–hating, humorless. I bought into these myths even though, intellectually, I know better. I’m not proud of this. I don’t want to buy into these myths anymore. I don’t want to cavalierly disavow feminism like far too many other women have done.
Bad feminism seems like the only way I can both embrace myself as a feminist and be myself, and so I write. I chatter away on Twitter about everything that makes me angry and all the small things that bring me joy. I write blog posts about the meals I cook as I try to take better care of myself, and with each new entry, I realise that I’m undeserving myself after years of allowing myself to stay damaged. The more I write, the more I put myself out into the world as a bad feminist but, I hope, a good woman — I am being open about who I am and who I was and where I faltered and who I would like to become.
No matter what issues I have with feminism, I am a feminist. I cannot and will not deny the importance and absolute necessity of feminism. Like most people, I’m full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like shit for being a woman.
I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.– Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist Essays, p. 317-8
Wow, reading this on the last pages of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist Essay was a reminder I didn’t realise I needed – so I thought I’d share it incase anyone else might find it beneficial too. Ever since I started becoming aware that feminism was something you could – and really ought to (at least as a woman) – have a feeling about, I’ve gone through quite a transformation. If you’d asked me 5 years ago whether I was a feminist the answer most likely would have been “not really”. A) I was privileged and was yet to become fully aware just how many life experiences are informed by archaic gendered norms, and B) More importantly I was struggling with coming to grips with many of the norms frequently seen as prerequisite for being a “good” (read: proper) feminist. These feelings haven’t left me completely today, which is why I over the last year have spend a great deal of time and effort exploring feminist literature and history. Reading the above in Roxane Gay’s book Bad Feminist Essays was a nice reminder of where my explorations into this topic started, and an important acknowledgement that feminism isn’t something that should make you judge your performance of it on a scale from good to bad. Rather it is a thing that can take whatever form – but that needs to never loose sight of the essential element: equality for all.
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