In honor of the release of writer, professor, editor, blogger and all-around awesome lady Roxane Gay’s new book, Bad Feminist, I decided to dedicate this week’s Feminism Fridays to my views of bad feminism.
Like Roxane Gay, there are times when I too am a bad feminist. I do not get offended when someone refers to a group of men and women or just women as “guys.” I myself refer to groups of women as guys all the time. That’s the way our language evolved, and I’m ok with it.
Women are highly sexualized, and this is a problem, but I do not think we should desexualize them entirely. I think we should tone it down and make the sexualization of men equal to that of women, but honestly, I like looking at attractive women and men, and I would be disappointed if that disappeared.
I could go on. I could list all the things I think and do that a good feminist wouldn’t, but those things are not the problem. The problem is that there is such a distorted and uneducated view of feminism that it’s hard to say what exactly makes a good feminist or a bad one.
To improve the outside, and inside, views of feminism, I think two things need to happen. First, there needs to be a more concerted effort to educate people about feminism. Mothers can teach their daughters. Teachers can speak to their students. More classes can be offered. Feminists can get on WordPress and blog about feminism, maybe even on Fridays. The opportunities are endless, because, honestly, we aren’t doing that much right now.
The second thing that needs to happen is that feminism needs to be more inclusive, and feminists need to stop shaming each other. Bad feminists exist because, rather than educating others and spreading feminism as far as possible, other feminists tell us we’re wrong.
You know how I mentioned that I don’t care if I’m in a group and addressed as guys? I had a conversation with my friend Marla about that. She tried to tell me that I was being oppressed by letting people refer to me as “guys.” I was like, um, hello, you are currently oppressing me by telling me what I should and shouldn’t think.
(Marla, by the way, is one of the smartest and most wonderful people I know. We were able to have this conversation in a civil way without yelling at each other or making each other cry. She’s great that way.)
My point is that we should stop telling each other what we’re doing wrong and start telling the patriarchy what it’s doing wrong instead. We need to better include women of color and the LGBTQ community in feminism. Feminism is not just some cause for privileged, white heterosexual women to get behind. It is also not a group of men-hating bra-burners with copious amounts of hair flowing from all areas of their bodies. Feminism is the idea that gender equality should exist and that women should be able to choose who they want to be. Period.
I’m not going to stop addressing groups of people as “guys” anytime soon, and I’m certainly not going to figure out the best qualities of feminism in a day. So let’s get rid of the idea of bad feminists, because honestly, does anyone actually know a perfect feminist? Seriously. Come on, guys.