Again, I was called a bad feminist. It isn’t the first time I’ve been called a bad feminist or the first time I’ve been called feminist like it’s an insult. This time I reacted differently – I’d like to think due to my increased maturity.
I Googled feminist: (noun) a person who supports feminism.
I Googled feminism: (noun) the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
By strict definition a feminist is a person who believes women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. To me this sounds like everyone I know, men and women alike, believing in equality. Then I Googled bad feminist, because after all that is the ‘insult’ that was thrown my way. What I found instead of a definition (not that I expected one) was Roxane Gay, a cultural critic, novelist, and professor and author of a 2014 publication of essays titled Bad Feminist. Newly introduced to Gay’s work, I am by no means an expert on her work, nor have I read enough to critique her work, however as I started reading the introduction to Bad Feminist, titled, Feminism (n.): Plural, I was struck by one simple statement in the text:
“I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.
I believe women not just in the United States but throughout the world deserve equality and freedom but know I am in no
position to tell women of other cultures what that equality and freedom should look like.”
Yeah, that! That is what I believe. I believe all women need to know they have choices and need to make the choices that work best for them. No one can make choices for another individual and consider that freedom in my opinion.
None of this explains why anyone thinks I am a bad feminist. I suppose it comes down to the choices I’ve made in life and someone disagreeing with my choices. I will admit I have made plenty of bad and good choices throughout my years, and I’ll probably make many more throughout the rest of my years. I would like to think that my choices are getting better as the years go on but that could be wishful thinking, I choose to believe it is not.
Most likely the statement was made because I choose to be a stay-at-home-mom despite my education and degrees, but it easily could have been because I frequently accept men opening/holding doors open for me, or because I’ve only had boys and therefore am not fully empowering the next generation of girls. I really don’t know why, I didn’t ask, perhaps I should have asked what that person thought was bad about my support of equal rights for all. Of course equal rights for all, is called a civil rights activist or simply an activist, not a feminist.
I teach my boys that women and men are equal, and I take pride in the fact that they see skin simply as a color in the rainbow and not as a label. I will continue to believe that makes me a good person even if others may disagree – that’s how this ‘bad feminist’ runs it like a mom, like a woman, like a human being. Perhaps we should all take more of Sarah’s advice and compliment each other instead of tossing about confusing insults.