While watching Roxane Gay’s TED talk, I often found myself nodding and thinking ‘me too’. I also love the color pink, I also love fairytales and princesses. We talked in class about her ideas of “bad” feminism, of Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift. We talked about feminism an academic subject as well an activist movement. We talked about what feminism often entails for many women, but I felt as though we barely touched on “good” feminism.
Our brand of feminism, since many people define it differently, is an inclusive movement. It is intersectional with race, class, sexuality and gender. This means that we often talk about the experiences of women of color, poor women, gay women and transgender or non-binary women. We talk about the experiences of all women as well as the patriarchal structures that negatively affect all people. We talk about dominant groups and the unequal power in our society. Modern feminism can at times be too general, and Gay talked about how at times this can be a detriment of the movement. At times it is often difficult to adhere by all of the rules.
On one of the first days of class, my group talked about the women’s march and the signs that talked about vaginas or uteruses and how that might affect feminist trans women, as it seems to align the idea of womanhood with female bodies. Most of these signs were not meant to be non-inclusive, they were simply trying to protest the very real threats to reproductive care and shed lights on these issues. We must use our language carefully in order to talk about these issues, to let it be clear that a reproductive body parts, while an important part of feminist discussion, is not what defines a woman.
While I think that it is theoretically possible to be a “good” feminist, it is often too difficult, as we often equate it with being a perfect feminist. As Gay said, we often put good feminists on a pedestal and then knock them down. There may often be times where you unconsciously mess up, like with the signs at the march. Perhaps you’re just human and it is easier to function within the constraints of society and you conform with feminine ideals. You can still be a feminist, even if you aren’t perfect.