Y’all. In my last few blog posts, you may have been able to tell one simple thing:
That I’ve fucking had it.
I’ve just had it. I’ve had it with politics, I’ve had it with America’s social and economic disparities, I’ve had it with corporate greed and destruction, I’ve had it with environmental degradation at the hands of oil companies, et al., I’ve had it with listening to old white dudes explain the alleged horrors of feminism to me without ever having read so much as a goddamn Jezebel article about feminism (let alone any kind of actual academic text). I’ve just mother. fucking. had it.
But one of the things I’ve most had it with, is this kind of watered down, faux-moderate, don’t-rattle-the-patriarchy, defense-only feminism that exists alllllll around the internet.
Believe me when I say that you are MOST familiar with this feminism.
It’s the feminism that shouldn’t upset your boyfriend too much.
It’s the feminism that says things like, “Well, I’m a feminist, but I’m not a RADICAL feminist.”
It’s the kind of feminism that likes to cry “feminazi” when a woman gets a little too mouthy with her ideas about equality.
It’s the feminism that likes to point to other places where women and nonmale identifying individuals are worse off and “remind” us how great we have it here, (so maybe could we just stfu about rape culture, plz?)
It’s the feminism that says, “When one woman lies about rape, it ruins it for all women who are raped.”
It’s the feminism that interrupts a heated debate to remind us to, “calm down.”
It’s the feminism that stops short of intersectionality, that stops short at pointing the finger “It’s fine to say that rape happens, but we can’t actually CALL someone a rapist”.
It’s feminism that says, mansplaining isn’t a thing because, “No one should be condescending to anyone.”
And it’s the feminism that reaches the logical conclusion to that previous statement with a good, old “All lives matter.” follow up.
It’s the feminism that says, “If you would just say this to people in a nicer/calmer/sweeter/happier way, they would be way more likely to actually be feminists.”
It’s the feminism that lets a joke slide by about the over-sexualization and objectification of Asian women.
It’s the feminism that allows white women to walk all over, dismiss, and silence the voices and experiences of women of color.
And of course it’s a feminism that never fails to ask the most important question,
“But what about the men?!?”
In other words, it ain’t feminism at all, boo.
And this is not me trying to start some debate about the various nuances of actual feminism (e.g. bell hooks v. Beyonce). This is me saying that feminism has an actual definition, and if you do any of the above things, then, hi, you need to re-fucking-learn what feminism is and recommit yourself to the camp of “Actually Gives a Real Fuck”.
But, as I suspect, people who say the above things never actually gave a fuck to begin with.
All too often, I see comments, posts, facebook status updates on the internet where people are so busy attempting to appear (what I suppose they believe is) “neutral,” “objective,” “unbiased,” or “skeptical” that they put themselves in the position of playing sympathetic defense to the side of bigotry. It’s honestly quite infuriating.
It’s like, when did feminism decide to ONLY play defense?
Here’s an example:
Here’s a tweet by some guy named Chris Cillizza from some place called The Fix. Chris is attempting to point out to us in a very “logical” way that we shouldn’t call Trump voters racist. Here’s his pitch:
Now, there were a lot of good responses to this tweet. One very popular response I saw said: “They might not all be racist, but to them racism isn’t a deal breaker.” (paraphrased and I can’t remember who said it , so I’ll have to find out and give cred later…)
However, that’s just more playing feminist defense. It’s not that it’s not a good response, it’s just that it’s more of the same. It’s allowing compromise for things that DON’T DESERVE COMPROMISE e.g. racism, e.g. human rights and dignity. It’s essentially saying, “Sure, I partially agree but here’s a watered down more acceptable thing to say.”
Here’s a better response:
“Yes, all 59 million of those American voters are racist. Every single one of them. Ridiculous…that we won’t explicitly call them out.”
Because, and let me be so very, very clear about this, anyone who voted for Trump has committed a racist act and is…therefore, a racist.
Not sure how I’m saying something controversial.
If that’s too “radical” for you, then you fail to give a single shit about the fact that America is founded on white supremacy and male privilege (hello, our legacy has quite literally been built on the backs of slaves and the free and cheap labor of women and other people of color). We have made strides to pull ourselves out of the hole through the tireless efforts of many brave people of color, but by and large: you don’t get to opt out of the system. We all start in the hole.
And from day one, the American system will teach you how to be racist or how to internalize racism. And only until you can confront that reality can you then also begin to unlearn racism (or sexism, etc) and climb on out.
I’m not sure when we became so fucking weird about admitting our racism and sexism in the first place. We have no problem looking back in history and pointing out the racism of those long gone, but when it looks us right in the eye in the here and now it’s like all we can see is a nice, soothing white-wash.
(White people love to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. while in the same breath calling Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization.)
Ok, so moving on. Here’s some more Playing Defense Feminism for you re: a one Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton:
“I won’t vote for someone just because she’s a woman. I want the best candidate.”
Cue thousands of think pieces about why women and men alike, would sincerely, truly, and deeply like a female president, but that they want to be clear that they are not voting based on gender.
The correct answer is:
“Yes, I voted for Hillary because she’s a woman.”
Because don’t even act like being a woman in the political realm is some kind of negligible thing. White women didn’t get the right to vote until 1920 and black women didn’t even have fully realized voting rights until the 1960s (and let’s be real that black people still experience voter suppression nationwide to this very day). Do you know what it takes for a woman to even get her ass on the presidential ballot of a major party ticket?
Let me tell you. It takes a lot. A lot. A lot more than your ass is willing to do or likely, more than her male counterpart is willing (or has ever even had to try) to do.
Men (and women!) have been voting exclusively for (white) men for literally hundreds of years, without a single question asked. So, don’t pretend that somehow voting based on gender is suddenly unprecedented (or unpresidented as some might say).
But also, let’s be very clear about the importance of Hillary’s qualifications.
They don’t matter.
Hillary was the most qualified person in the history of modern America to run for presidential office and she lost to a grossly unqualified man anyway.
The qualifications? They didn’t fuggin’ matter.
So, yeah. I voted for Hillary because she’s a woman. Fucking fight me. Being a woman is hard. ASK ONE.
Ok, here’s next on the list for Defense Feminism:
“If you believe in feminism so strongly, then teach me about it.”
Defensive feminism requires that you engage this person in an in depth, complex, involved, deeply confusing conversation to “prove” that women deserve equality.
But please remember, my fellow feminists, that you do not owe a goddamn single soul your free intellectual labor. The necessity of feminism is simply not up for debate because the necessity for equality among human beings is not a question. Any individual truly interested in understanding feminism can use a million and one free websites with a million and one articles already written and published providing every bit of information any one person could ever need.
The answer to this is:
“If you believe in equality for all people, then you have a moral obligation to TEACH YOURSELF about feminism.”
Because we all know the fool that demands you teach him (or her) feminism – doesn’t really want to learn in the first place. They just want your time for free. They will attempt to “disprove” your every point because they aren’t trying to learn about feminism, they are trying to debate feminism.
But the onus of moral obligation to give a fuck about the rights of women and other nonmale identifying individuals still falls squarely on the shoulders of the other person – and not you. So, send them along on their not so merry way because unless you’re getting paid thirty measly grande a year, you ain’t nobody’s teacher.
If they care, they will do the work themselves. Just as you have done.
But that’s not to say that you should stay quiet when confronted with racism or sexism. Because the other problem with defensive feminism is that it often remains politely silent in the face of bigotry.
Facebook posts go unchallenged, microaggressions slide by, sexist jokes are laughed at, and everyone shrugs their shoulders silently mouthing the phrase, “I won’t change anyone’s mind anyway.”
To that I say:
Whoever said anything about changing minds?
We are about to enter Trump’s America. This isn’t about changing minds anymore.
This is about making some goddamn noise.
This is about standing up, opening your mouth, using the vocal chords nature gave you, and drowning out the rattle of bigots everywhere.
This is about being so loud that nothing else can be heard.
This is about using the one thing we have left: free speech.
Because the other side’s best weapon is your silence.
So, play some feminist offense as best you can, and when America hands you lemons, just scream a little louder.