On Display Now! The Hypocrite Feminist!
Welcome folks! Step right up! Bring your children, your pets, your grandparents! Come into the circus and come quick — because wow, we have a treat for you! On display now, for a limited time only, we have the hypocrite feminist here for your viewing pleasure. Come and throw balled-up copies of her own articles in her face! Watch her listen to Lana Del Rey and cry for hours! Laugh as she turns on the Twilight (again) and sits pathetically on the couch!
Fun for all ages — guaranteed!
art by Amanda S. Lanzone
Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my footing in this whole feminist thing.
Even in trying to write this blog post, I ended up staring at my blank computer screen for a good twenty minutes, paralyzed by the thought of writing about myself. Go figure, I can tell you what someone else thinks about feminism or gender politics but I can't tell you what I think. At all.
For a while, I couldn't figure out why.
I was staring at that menacing, white empty page pulled up on my laptop, unable to understand why I had nothing to say. Which is odd, because if you know me well, I always have something to say.
At first, this felt like a crushing failure.
If you've read my previous blog posts, you know what feminism looks like in my political, my academic, and public lives.
But what does feminism look like in my personal life?
Last year, I came across the book Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and I remember feeling very seen by it. I've considered myself a feminist for a long time, but I don't think I've ever stopped to consider the possibility that I'm bad at it.
I'm bad at feminism.
I am a hypocrite feminist.
Consider the following:
I've indulged in way too much Bachelor culture. The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise—any piece of media that was remotely connected to slime-ball Chris Harrison, I was there with my chair and my popcorn, ready to take in those harmful narratives about women.
When on a first date with a man, I've always felt extremely disappointed when the bill isn't paid for me. (This took a lot of unpacking).
I will happily accept getting into a bar or nightclub free because I am a woman, even though I know that continues harmful narratives about women's bodies as commodities at those establishments.
I've shamelessly and harmfully shamed the "other woman" during a situation that involved cheating instead of looking to the other half of my relationship that strayed.
The first compliment I give friends who are women is based on their attractiveness. (ie — you look so pretty, you're so hot, etc). I noticed that I don't do this with any friends who do not identify as women.
I constantly address groups of people as "guys" — this one really is an obvious fix. (really Alisha anything else would work: pals, buddies, friends, mammals, life forms).
I've been taught to treat other women as competition in social situations and that's something I'm still trying to unlearn. One person's success does not connect to another person's failure.
I forget about my cis privilege and that's something I need to be more vigilant of and proactive about. I have never felt uncomfortable about sharing my personal pronouns and I have never feared that my pronouns would be mistaken.
I have prioritized the attention of men and based my personal worth on that attention.
I often feel the need to conform to specific norms of gender performance, which I think makes me more palatable to people and desirable to be around. I correlate standing up for myself and speaking honestly with being viewed as a bitch. So, I end up trying to be "nice" and "good" to people all the time—hoping that it will make me more likable.
With these things in mind, I've been thinking about what we're bringing with us into social situations. Each one of us humans has these invisible backpacks that we carry around. In it are our lived experiences and identifying factors. (Okay pause, did anybody just picture their old Jansport backpack from grade school? No? Just me?). Right, so, in this backpack are pieces of us. Stuffed inside are our ideas, our interests, our traumas, and our past. Some people's backpacks are heavier than others. Some people barely notice they're wearing one.
Mine, lately, feels stuffed to the brim.
I have all of these buttons on the back of my imaginary backpack: one for feminism, one for Pride, one for Black Lives Matter, one for my dog (just to name a few). Shoved inside the zipped pockets are my insecurities, fears, anxieties, privilege, imperfections, and shortcomings. Even though I have the understanding that everyone else's backpack is (for lack of a better word) full of shit and nobody is perfect, I still sometimes feel like I'm failing in my hypocrisy.
But, I'm trying.
Really, that's what this whole life shenanigan is about, right?