Good vs Bad Feminism

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.


3 thoughts on “Good vs Bad Feminism

  1. I definitely agree that some of the signs at the Women’s March could have been more inclusive. I mean, if we reduce womanhood down to genitalia, aren’t we being as objectifying as the system we’re trying to reform? I do think those signs had a place there (especially those that directly challenged Trump’s crotch grabbing comments) but I agree with you in that the language used could have been worded a little better. I’ve seen people use the phrase “sisters not cis-ters”, which is a good, catchy way of putting it. That being said, I understand where Roxane Gay was coming from when she talked about the pedestal because it’s absolutely true. While feminism, and social justice in general, is great it does sometimes feel as though there’s this pressure to be perfect all the time; you’re not allowed to mess up. When you get “knocked off the pedestal”, do you even get a second chance? I like the way you put it at the end: “You can still be a feminist, even if you aren’t perfect.” Just try your best to learn from your mistakes and keep on fighting the good fight for equality.


  2. Your last couple of sentences really struck me. I always felt ashamed because I felt like my feminism was different than some of the others. I always feel like I should be doing more and I was disappointed in myself that I did not attend the women’s March in D.C. like so many other people. I do believe in equal rights for all however, not just women in general. I’m just always nervous about putting any of my opinions out there because there’s always going to be hater out there trying to break a person down and make them feel like a “bad feminist” and I’m not too good at debating when it comes to those situations. I guess I shouldn’t feel that way though and I honestly think there isn’t such a thing as “bad feminism”. Meaning, I should be able to say whatever I want when I’m sticking up for equal rights as a feminist and not be judged by the actions/words I decide to do or say.


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