Is there a bad way to be a Feminist?
My latest read was a collection of essays by Roxanne Gay, titled ‘The Bad Feminist Essays’. This really is an intelligent, insightful read into a variety of topics and social issues such as Race, Gender, Feminism and just generally a candid insight into being a Black Woman in America. So if anyone wants to borrow this for their research, hit me up!
I think this brought up a few issues we have as a movement; both in issues in society that need tackling BY Feminism, and in issues we have WITHIN Feminism. Gay’s collection of essays highlight what it actually feels like to identify as a Feminist today; and manages to keep a humorous, intelligent dialogue running throughout. She talks about her relationship with the word ‘Feminist’ and how she initially shyed away from the label for fear of the negative connotations, something I myself can relate to. As the book goes on, she seems to come to a realisation that she is, in fact, a feminist in her own way. The title of ‘Bad Feminist’ simply comes from the fact that she isn’t militant, or as proactive, as she thinks she should be. She likes to present very feminine, and describes her love of make-up, shaving her legs and high heels. These things are commonly associated as being Anti-Feminist, and were publicly ‘cast out’ by the second-wave feminists of the 60s and 70s in a bid to cast light on oppressive beauty standards.
In my opinion, Gay isn’t a bad feminist at all. She is simply her own person, with her own views and her own ways of expressing these. Questioning your beliefs, your labels and your lifestyle is just part of being human. Being a Woman today is so hard; we have to be seen to be an active feminist, to be successful in our careers, to own our sexuality and our bodies, to be highly educated, to be independent from men, to be social butterflies, to travel, to take beautiful photos and post them on Instagram but heaven forbid we are looks-orientated in a looks-orientated world. To be frank, it’s a lot. It’s so much pressure to fit into a box. For me, there isn’t a right or wrong way to be a feminist, it’s whatever you can fit into your lives around the ever-growing list of expectations we put on ourselves. Whether or not other feminists, or the rest of society agrees remains to be seen….and to be researched….probably by me because my reading list seems to be growing by the day while I search for answers.