I hope you’ll enjoy this terrific entry from my friend (and incredibly woke — and busy! — anti-Trump activist, among other character qualities) Rebekah Rodriguez-Lynn. It was initially posted on Wednesday to her Facebook feed as a reflection on International Women’s Day:
International Women’s Day is a good day to review what feminism is and is not. When I was a kid, feminism was a dirty word. And while the word still draws hostility, there seems to be more people identifying as a feminist. In some ways, more people identifying as feminists is good. But lots and lots of people are now claiming feminism in an attempt to co-opt it, water it down, and use it for selfish reasons. I’ll tackle some of the things I’ve heard recently:
Q: When other women criticize me, aren’t they anti-feminist? (This is Taylor Swiftian feminism.)
A: Not necessarily. Feminism doesn’t exist to protect you personally from any and all criticism or to validate your every opinion. If the criticism itself is sexist, that is a problem. And lots of ‘innocent’ criticism is deeply sexist. However, the SIMPLE EXISTENCE of criticism against you is not sexist in and of itself. COME ON DO I REALLY HAVE TO SAY THAT? PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO LIKE YOU IN ORDER TO BE A FEMINIST.
Q: Voting for Hillary because of her gender is anti-feminist.
A: Not at all. Representation matters. And treasuring it as a positive way to combat the widespread attitude that women can’t lead, is a fantastic thing. But it isn’t the only thing. The good it provides is overwhelmingly cancelled out by a female candidate that actively works against women. So it isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card either. It’s a legitimate feminist bonus IF and WHEN you believe you have a candidate that will fight for all women.
Q. Trump can’t be sexist! He hires women! (this is a real thing someone said to me)
A. What are you smoking? FEMINISM IS ABOUT IMPROVING CONDITIONS OF ALL WOMEN. It isn’t about getting some asshole in a skirt a highly paid job. Women who make it to the top and then not only pull the ladder up behind them, but use their platform to actively worsen the conditions of women are not feminist. They are reprehensible.
So, if you want to cut funding for education and healthcare while increasing funding for wars and prisons. If you want to regulate women’s bodies, slut shame and victim blame, YOU AINT FEMINIST. And if you only rely on feminism when it’s convenient to you or serves your personal needs (*cough, Megyn Kelly) YOU AINT FEMINIST. Until you stand in solidarity with your sisters of ALL colors, of ALL religions, ALL abilities and disabilities, and of ALL income levels and you commit to lifting them up instead of centering yourself. YOU AIN’T IT.
I’m not one of those people who thinks there is such a thing as a ‘perfect feminist’. We are all influenced by the patriarchal society we’ve grown up in. None of us make personal choices in a vacuum. It’s a waste of energy to pick at each other for it though. (Don’t hate the player, hate the game, folks)
So for god’s sake, wear what you want, seriously. Wear pink frilly skirts or combat boots. Or booty shorts! Get plastic surgery or don’t. Be fat or skinny. Be atheist or religious. Be monogamous, polyamorous, asexual, or promiscuous. Laugh a full hearty laugh and shake your booty. Twerk. Stay home with your cats and a pizza. Have a traditional wedding, Stay single forever. Have kids, don’t have kids. Knit, cosplay, skydive, be a Sunday school teacher or a ninja.
But don’t say you give a shit about women when you really only give a shit about yourself or middle class white women like you.