Maybe I'm a bad feminist, but I am deeply committed to the issues important to the feminist movement. I have strong opinions about misogyny, institutional sexism that consistently places women at a disadvantage, the inequity in pay, the cult of beauty and thinness, the repeated attacks on reproductive freedom, violence against women, and on and on. I am as committed to fighting fiercely for equality as I am committed to disrupting the notion that there is an essential feminism.
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Whenever governments wanted to achieve some end, often involving population growth, they restricted access to birth control and/or criminalized birth control unless, of course, the population growth concerned the poor, in which case, contraception was enthusiastically promoted. Historically, society has only wanted the "right kind of people" to have a right to life. We shouldn't forget that fact.
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Assuming Sandberg's advice is completely useless for working-class women is just as shortsighted as claiming her advice needs to be completely applicable to all women. And let's be frank: if Sandberg chose to offer career advice for working-class women, a group she clearly knows little about, she would have been just as harshly criticized for overstepping her bounds.
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I followed many conversations about what happened in Norway and the death of Amy Winehouse because they happened one after the next. Too many of those conversations tried to conflate the two events, tried to create some kind of hierarchy of tragedy, grief, call, response. There was so much judgment, so much interrogation of grief-how dare we mourn a singer, an entertainer, a girl-woman who struggled with addiction, as if the life of an addict is somehow less worthy a life, as if we are not entitled to mourn unless the tragedy happens to the right kind of people. How dare we mourn a singer when across an ocean seventy-seven people are dead? We are asked these questions as if we only have the capacity to mourn one tragedy at a time, as if we must measure the depth and reach of a tragedy before deciding how to respond, as if compassion and kindness are finite resources we must use sparingly. We cannot put these two tragedies on a chart and connect them with a straight line. We cannot understand these tragedies neatly.
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Death is a tragedy whether it is in the death of one girl-woman in London or seventy-seven men, women, and children in Norway. We know this, but perhaps it needs to be said over and over again so we do not forget. I have never considered compassion a finite resource. I would not want to live in a world where such was the case.
I try to learn better, do better. I have no idea how I got to be the one at the front of the classroom, the one who gets to be in charge of things. Most of the time, I feel like the kid who gets to sit at the adult table for the first time at Thanksgiving. I'm not sure which fork to use. My feet can't reach the floor.
I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I'm not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I'm right. I am just trying-trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.
One of my biggest weaknesses, one that has always shamed me, is that I have always been lonely. I've struggled to make friends because I can be socially awkward, because I'm weird, because I live in my head. When I was young, we moved around a lot, so there was rarely any time to get to know a new place, let alone new people. Loneliness was the one familiar thing, making me this bottomless pit of need, open and gaping and desperate for anything to fill me up.
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I get my first paycheck. We are paid once a month, which requires the kind of budgeting I am incapable of. Life is unpleasant after the twenty-third or so. I've been a graduate student for so long it's hard to fathom that one check can have four numbers and change. Then I see how much The Man takes. Damn The Man.
Trigger warnings aren't meant for those of us who don't believe in them, just like the Bible wasn't written for atheists. Trigger warnings are designed for the people who need and believe in that safety. Those of us who do not believe should have little say in the matter. We can neither presume nor judge what others might feel the need to be protected from.
Any number of celebrities are dogged by "gay rumors" because we cannot quite place them into a given category. We act like placing these people in categories will have some impact on our lives, or that creating these categories is our responsibility, when, most of the time, such taxonomy won't change anything at all.
When it comes to fat, there has to be a reason. We need to be able to trace the genealogy of obesity. Without that genealogy, we are simply mystified. People need an explanation for how a person can lose such control over her body. They want to know if you come from a fat family or if you have some kind of medical condition or if you are simply weak and really love food that much.
How do we reconcile the imperfections of feminism with all the good it can do? In truth, feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed. For wathever reason, we hold feminism to an unreasonable standard where the movement must be everything we want and must always make the best choices. 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.
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Feminism, as of late, has suffered from a certain guilt by association because we conflate feminism with women who advocate feminism as part of their personal brand. When these figureheads say what we want to hear, we put them up on the Feminist Pedestal, and when they do something we don't like, we knock them right off and then say there's something wrong with feminism because our feminist leaders have failed us. We forget the difference between feminism and Professional Feminists.
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The problem with movements is that, all too often, they are associated only with the most visible figures, the people with the biggest platforms and the loudest, most provocative voices. But feminism is not whatever philosophy is being spouted by the popular media feminist flavor of the week, at least not entirely.
How do we reconcile the imperfections of feminism with all the good it can do? In truth, feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed. For whatever reason, we hold feminism to an unreasonable standard where the movement must be everything we want and must always make the best choices. 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.
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Feminism's failings do not mean we should eschew feminism entirely. People do terrible things all the time, but we don't regularly disown our humanity. We disavow the terrible things. We should disavow the failures of feminism without disavowing its many successes and how far we have come.
In truth, feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed. For whatever reason, we hold feminism to an unreasonable standard where the movement must be everything we want and must always make the best choices. 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.
All too often, when we see injustices, both great and small, we think, That's terrible, but we do nothing. We say nothing. We let other people fight their own battles. We remain silent because silence is easier. Qui tacet consentire videtur is Latin for 'Silence gives consent.' When we say nothing, when we do nothing, we are consenting to these trespasses against us.
I love Twitter. It doesn't keep me from writing and I think it's a really convenient scapegoat when the truth is that the real issue is self-control. I am totally fine admitting i have none. I'm not going to blame Twitter for affecting my writing. And also, Twitter doesn't affect my writing.
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. Feminism will better succeed with collective effort, but feminist success can also rise out of personal conduct.
We need to stop playing Privilege or Oppression Olympics because we'll never get anywhere until we find more effective ways of talking through difference. We should be able to say, "This is my truth," and have that truth stand without a hundred clamoring voices shouting, giving the impression that multiple truths cannot coexist.
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Feminism is a choice, and if a woman does not want to be a feminist, that is her right, but it is still my responsibility to fight for her rights. I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn't make certain choices for ourselves. I believe women not just in the United States but throughout the world deserve equality and freedom but know I am in no position to tell women of other cultures what that equality and freedom should look like.
Don't flirt, have sex, or engage in emotional affairs with your friends' significant others. This shouldn't need to be said, but it needs to be said. That significant other is an asshole, and you don't want to be involved with an asshole who's used goods. If you want to be with an asshole, get a fresh asshole of your very own. They are abundant.
The other day, I saw a blog post where a woman wrote about why she was unfollowing me and that made me feel incredibly self-conscious and embarrassed about my tweets. I also feel more exposed now that I've become a more visible writer but then I try to get over all that and just use Twitter the way I want.
That the question of likability even exists in literary conversations is odd. It implies that we are engaging in a courtship. When characters are unlikable, they don't meet our mutable, varying standards. Certainly we can find kinship in fiction, but literary merit shouldn't be dictated by whether we want to be friends or lovers with those about whom we read.
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I am human. I am messy. I'm not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I'm right. I am just trying - trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.
You don't necessarily have to do anything once you acknowledge your privilege. You don't have to apologize for it. You need to understand the extent of your privilege, the consequences of your privilege, and remain aware that people who are different from you move through and experience the world in ways you might never know anything about.
Social media is something of a double-edged sword. At its best, social media offers unprecedented opportunities for marginalized people to speak and bring much needed attention to the issues they face. At its worst, social media also offers 'everyone' an unprecedented opportunity to share in collective outrage without reflection.
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