I Am A Bad Feminist

Over the weekend I read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. It was equal parts affirming and educational and her essays inspired me to think of the ways that I am a “bad feminist.” Here is what I came up with – an incomplete, mostly serious, partly tongue-in-cheek list of the ways in which I am bad at feminism.

  1. I love high heels.
  2. I am skeptical of “manspreading.”  Having spent a lot of time on public transportation in the last 7 years (in 3 major cities – Denver, Montreal, Toronto) I have found that people taking up a lot of space doesn’t conform to a perceivable gender trend. In my experience women seemed just as likely to put their bag on the empty seat next to them as men were to spread their legs.
  3. I am guilty of enjoying dancing to music that includes misogynistic lyrics. I know it’s problematic and yet I can’t deny that it pumps me up when I jog and that it gets me dancing in my kitchen.
  4. I think the “for every dollar a man earns, a woman makes 78 cents” tagline is recycled and not useful.
  5. Feminist circles have been talking a lot about “manterrupting” and I feel embarrassed because a bad habit of mine (that I’m working on!) is interrupting people.
  6. I (sporadically) count calories. And don’t feel bad about it.
  7. I have never and will never burn my bra because they are expensive.
  8. I love plenty of TV shows, movies, and books that fail the Bechdel test.
  9. I have problems with the “body positive” movement.
  10. I am ignorant of the struggles of women of colour and the ways in which mainstream feminism has excluded them. This is something I’m actively working on but I am not excused.

Lest you misinterpret my list as me saying “I’m a feminist but not one of those feminists” let me be clear that the point of this list is to recognize that as a fallible human being I regularly fail to live up to my own ideals. It’s also to point out that the mainstream feminist narrative has been dominated by white, heterosexual, middle-class women and has often failed women of colour, transwomen, and poor women.

I am a bad feminist but I am a proud feminist committed to listening, learning, and advocating. In the words of the formidable Roxane Gay, “I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

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