Is it just me or is the “Are you a feminist?” question that’s been the trendy thing journalists seem to always ask women getting tired? I’m happy that feminism is a topic of discussion in the media but it’s the dialogue that follows this particular question that gets to me. Really the question is more like “Are you a feminist? If so please provide an easy to digest explanation as to how but don’t be too wishy washy about it or you’ll not be feminist enough but also don’t be too serious about it or you’ll come off as too intense!”
I once had a boyfriend laugh at me when I called myself a feminist. His response was something along the lines of “You? After the things you have done in your past?!” He was convinced that because I had been with other guys before him and, like most women do, had an often scantily clad hard partying phase in college that I couldn’t be a feminist. To him I was a used up, sad girl who should spend the rest of her days coming up with ways to make up for her salacious past. Perhaps he thought that being submissive to a not very respectful boyfriend was one of those ways. At the time I was deeply under his charms and I didn’t say anything although I knew he was wrong. If I could turn back time only to respond with Yes! Yes, I consider myself a feminist and part of why I do is precisely because I had a fairly full young women hood and I experienced learning just how to unapologetically own my sexuality while always maintaining the belief that I was the intellectual equal of my male peers and that the ways in which I chose to explore myself don’t define me and although there were plenty of missteps along the way and I may not be proud of it all I sure as hell don’t regret anything I did or didn’t do because it led me to the woman I am today and she’s a feminist!
A man believing he is the authority on what makes a woman a feminist…is not very feminist. I digress! The point is that being a feminist should not be a divisive thing that puts people in buckets. To me, a feminist is an equalist. But the word itself seems to invoke an array of things that has absolutely nothing to do with the main idea of being an equalist. A feminist is not just some caricature of a bra burner or a man hater or an aggressive protester. These are just some of the general categories people tend to place feminists under and it’s a shame because it’s society wanting to simplify what it means to be a women and to be a women is NEVER simple regardless of how you express your feminist beliefs.
I’ve had the topic of feminism on my mind as of late since I read a piece in the New Yorker on Gloria Steinem. I think everyone should make the effort to read writings of and about modern feminists. The newsletter Lenny Letter created by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner is great! There is really something in there for all types of women. It’s well written and very funny. Lena Dunham’s been busy and has another new project, the podcast Women of the Hour that was released this past Fall. I also really enjoy Vogues Breathless column by Karley Sciortino (blogger of Slutever) who is incredibly cool and kind of a bad ass. Karley shares her personal life freely sometimes going one step farther and taking on the responsibility of making herself somewhat of a test subject in her often scandalous social experiments. There is a great conversation Karely has with podcaster Alexi Wasser on her Love Alexi podcast that I recommend listening to.
Please share with me your recommendations of feminist thinkers, writers, podcasters, artists etc!