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  • Alisha Grech

Am I Turning My Back on Feminism? A Conundrum of Self and School.

Feminism cannot take on everything; it was designed not to save the whole world, but to identify, interpret, analyze, and reduce and resist sexist oppression."

- Corinne M. Smith, Gender Plus: Toward a More Inclusive Feminism

It's the middle of the summer.

I'm double vaxxed.

I'm fresh off of two ridiculous, white celebratory North American Holidays that don't accomplish or celebrate anything valid.

And I am questioning the entire relationship I share with feminism.

I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point during my undergraduate degree, I had made the self-proclamation that I was a FEMINIST (Without really knowing what that meant entirely).

I think I was one my whole life without necessarily realizing it.

In hindsight, I was probably pushed in that direction by the number of times I'd been called a bitch, bossy, or loud as a female-identifying child.

But, I was a feminist and I was (blindly) proud of it.

I wore whiteness on my sleeve in a way that was harmful and riddled with privilege. I didn't take the time to educate myself. I was a headstrong seventeen-year-old away from her childhood home for the first time who was determined to not take shit from anyone.

I held onto feminism so tightly, so desperately. As if the feminist part of my identity was the only piece worth being proud of, acknowledging, and speaking about. That was all I could be. And I had to be perfect at it.

As with other moments of unflinching perfectionism, I have reached feminist burnout.

I feel like a child who's just figured out that Santa Claus doesn't exist - or really, that Santa Claus is a children's tale that's been spun out of control by a monstrous, capitalist-driven society that's more concerned with people buying more junk, to combat the junk they already have, than with actual seasonal giving.

In writing this, I'm not entirely sure that makes sense.

But, in the same vein, I'm not entirely sure if feminism is living up to my childhood ideas of it. Instead of existing solely as a social movement, (inclusive of all persons who identify as women and supportive of women), it seems to exist as a marketing tool or an excuse for another brand to sell another t-shirt with the female gender symbol at a price of fifty dollars.

And while the "business" or the "industry" of feminism bothers me completely, that's not the core of my issues.

At this point, I'm not entirely sure feminism can account for what I need it to.

In chasing the (loose) topic of everyday bodies performing in public spaces, and the consequences of those bodily performances. I wonder if I'm being too exclusive by focusing only on the bodies of women instead of involving a more comprehensive and inclusive study of feminine bodies.

My issues with feminism are two-fold, coming from an intrinsically linked personal and scholarly perspective:

  1. Can feminism really account for everybody? The basis for these anxieties I'm having rises from the perpetual realization that feminism presents flawed movements, exclusivity, and the stressed importance of whiteness. Would stepping away from feminism benefit me as a scholar and as a person, into accepting the experiences and thoughts of those who have something to say about feminine bodies who perhaps do not classify themselves as women?

  2. Would focusing on the performance and violence on bodies that are classified as "feminine" be more inclusive, and fully approach the problem of a larger masculinity-driven-feminine-phobic-racist-systemic issue?

Okay, deep breath.

I feel like I'm starting from square one.

And maybe, that's the best thing.

Instead of filling in the boundaries of my mental map, I might just be expanding them.

And that's okay.

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