I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. So when I stumbled across this post at A Bookish Beemer, and this post on being a bad feminist, I thought I’d get in there and try to get my thoughts out.
Lately I’ve been realising how hard it is to be a good feminist.
Feminism is one of those things where once you open your eyes to it (and the things feminism recognises and fights), you can’t look away again. Since I started reading about feminism and identifying as one, I can’t take my feminist glasses off anymore. They’re glued to my nose. I can close my eyes but then I can’t see anything at all.
Over the past two years, feminism has become my moral compass. Like some people have religion or faith, I have feminism. It doesn’t make up the entirety of the code of ethics, but it informs the largest part of the way I try to lead my life. For me, feminism is more than just a social movement – it’s a complete way of seeing the world. At least, my own personal feminism is. I’ve made it into a space that not only considers some of the more traditional tenets of feminism (women’s rights, challenging gender expectations, decrying rape culture, etc), but where all sorts of social justice principles come to rest.
So feminism is my way of life. It’s made me more empathetic, more open, more willing to challenge things, and challenge myself. I try to incorporate my feminism into everything I do, whether it’s hugging a friend, meeting a new person, having a dinner conversation, catching a bus.
It works really well sometimes, and I’m really proud of myself. Little things do it. The other night I was out with some new people, and someone made a comment about Gina Rinehart’s (horrible, classist) politics and saying something along the lines of “and she’s horrible to look at as well.” And I called that person out on it, and they graciously took that on board. Those are the best sorts of feminist moments.
And then there are other times when I’m a bad feminist too, when I can’t speak up against something, or just don’t have the energy to engage with something, to argue with someone where I know I won’t win anyway. Where I give up and then berate myself for doing so.
As grateful I am of feminism in my life, it’s also made me a lot harder on myself. I have a stricter code of ethics I stand by and try to follow. And as such, I screw up a lot more, because all of a sudden I really, really want to be this good, ethical feminist person, after being a teenager who didn’t really care about being stand-offish and feeling superior to everyone. It’s not that I would be a bad person without feminism and my feminist-social-justice ethics. Just… a not as good one.
But I try, and I learn. Sometimes it makes me frustrated and angry and sad. But it also makes me happy, because I feel that I am doing my part to manage this world and make it a little bit nicer, and easier to navigate.
What role does feminism play in your life?