I’m a feminist. I think #womenagainstfeminism is the best thing that can happen and I think we need more of it.
Let me be plainer: As someone who is desperately for and continually working towards the advancement of women’s lives all around the world but specifically in America where I’m writing from, I find myself rooting against “feminism” more than I root for it.
Feminism, or the corporate-brand-obsessed, sorority meeting that passes for it, needs to fail -- and fail hard. The only concern I have is how intent feminism seems on taking women’s issues and discourse with it.
American feminism has become a media-obsessed vortex of mostly coastal white women trying to make careers of giddily telling us about the hard reality of everybody’s life to prove they deserve a spot on TV. I am super thankful for the Internet, because if I depended on the feminist orgs whose listservs I belong to, I would know absolutely nothing about what my fellow women were doing or needed until it came time for donations.
Even then those donations seem to miraculously go to the national orgs and not to the women on the front lines. Planned Parenthood was very quick to send me notices about donating to them to assure the work in Texas continued, but they were less quick to tell me about how I could directly keep clinics open. It would be impossible for me to keep up with the nuances of the debate if I hadn’t made it a point of following individual TX feminists.
So imagine my surprise when I found out that Stop Patriarchy, a group that literally “doesn’t go here,” found it easier to get press, attention and funds than the women who had to navigate this to get women necessary care.
This fly-over country condescension would be less frustrating if it wasn’t reflective of the reality of feminist analysis or lack there of. As feminism pretends that everything between NYC and LA doesn't matter until the cameras show up, the rest of us have to navigate it without even a decent attempt at broadening the conversation.
Oklahoma has had a rapist cop and had a police chief basically tell women not to be raped, but we refuse to have discussions beyond “more convictions and call the cops.” When even RAINN wont budge off that, what can we do? This isn’t about helping women anymore, it’s about punishing men -- wait, what?
Oh, and the #HeforShe thing -- considering how much time feminism spent telling us that hashtags weren’t worth anything, the sudden proliferation of them is aggravating, especially focused on what actions men are taking. I like men; they are wonderful and the one I’m attached to cooks so he can stay. But can feminists stop trying to convince me they deserve cookies for convincing men to be decent?
I’m super glad you and your circle of elite white guys can hold up signs -- how are you helping me convince the guys on the football team, on the ranch, and in my classroom? Can you do that and assure me that I will protected and get a job? When all of us in flyover country are looking at closing industry, and our lives depend on getting men to like us, how is feminism even talking about supporting me making feminist choices they approve of and surviving?
It’s certainly not leading by example. Non-profits pay nothing, and use the same intern economy that only supports the same small circle of privileged coastal girls. We can’t dream of becoming members of the feminism they told us about in class, because we can't afford to work for no money. Even worse, we are asked again and again to get excited by whether or not some millionaire is feminist or not.
That most of them think payment is optional for services is only icing on the cake. Women need to make the same amount as men, but we are supposed to cheer when Lena Dunham remembers (a.k.a. can’t risk the bad publicity anymore of not doing it) about paying people. Taylor Swift is the best advocate for feminism and every feminist commentator is doing their best Tina Fey. These are the women we’re supposed to jump up and down for, not because their donations or contributions are the best or because they have committed to humanitarian causes but because they remind them of girls like them.
Dolly Parton has been giving books to kids in four countries for ten years, but I guess poor country and rural action doesn’t give good feminism. As much as they talk about Beyonce, she’s housing the homeless and giving us some music to talk about the issues of being a woman their feminism doesn’t touch.
No, instead we are asked to identify with and applaud the kind of women who take cheap shots at our states, our ways of life, and our heroines -- and then have the gall to hit us up for money to do it.
We’re out here “in the trenches” with each other,working 40+ hour weeks in more diverse environments because everyone is broke. We talk about things, we follow, we can get The New York Times just like they do. We actually do have thoughts about our lives and we’d love to tell 'em, but we can’t. Instead of a movement actually concerned with getting out and hearing us, it’s the worst of the “smart” girls from "Legally Blonde." The girls from the fly-over states, the back woods, and the bad parts of town want good lives fulfilling our potential, too -- but we don’t fit the mold, so we don’t get the feminism.
What’s worse is that I can’t say this under my own name. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t stupid. I have seen what has happened to sex workers, fly-over state feminists, black women, just about anybody who doesn't fit the rubber stamp mold of feminists. They get buried, they get mocked -- and, what's worse, they get silenced for pointing out the reality we live in that isn’t touching them in their studios.
We DON’T NEED feminism like this. We need some thing better; we need something that's not just ready for Hilary but actually ready for a life that has been hard for a while and is getting harder -- though for all their news hawking, they don't seem to notice.
I hope feminism keeps failing. I hope they laugh these girls right into the implosion the rest of us are living through.
Maybe -- just maybe -- if it actually goes straight to hell they’ll actually remember what feminism is about.