Earlier this week, my newsfeed was covered in links to the quiz “Are You a Feminist?” Others talked about how great it is and the positive conversations it brought up with people who may not be usually talking about feminism. However, earlier when I went to Buzzfeed and searched “feminism” for the quiz I ran across the quiz “Are You a Bad Feminist?”
I immediately clicked it, ready and prepared to be insulted. However, as I began to read some of the answers I felt the satire creep in. (Although I’ll admit, Buzzfeed could have made the satire a little more apparent because some people did not get the joke.) But I understood the statement they were trying to make.
Often, we are so focused on criticizing each other within the feminist movement; we become distracted and aren’t talking about the bigger problems of misogyny and sexism daily outside of feminism. Within our own segments of feminism, we begin to categorize people into what makes a good feminist, what doesn’t, what is a fake feminist, ect. However, that only acts to divide us further and reinforce stereotypes rather than promote power and strength among women.
First, we assume women who participate in feminine gender performance choices are inherently un-feminist. There is a guilt associated with feminized gender performances that make one feel as if they are less authentic. Yes, I do realize the issues within the beauty industry of commodifying women’s bodies for profit. Yes, we should avoid anything with the intent of oppressing women and their freedom of choice, but by saying a woman with makeup on is a “bad feminist” pushes away a whole group of women who may care passionately about women’s rights. I was so moved by a fellow blogger in our last meeting saying she had been cautious about feminism before blogging because she had been burned by feminists telling her she wasn’t worthy because she was more traditional and wanted to be a stay at home mom. Career paths, whether its CEO or mother of four, is a choice- and isn’t choice the core of our beliefs as a movement?
The quiz also points out the flaws when we try to say “bad feminists” are not participating enough in feminist discourse. One answer on the quiz that made me laugh was “You don’t use Twitter to talk about how angry you are about sexism.” First of all, does this mean I can’t be a feminist if I don’t have a twitter? But second of all, it also acts to make those who are not using every second of the day to support and advance feminism be labeled as “bad”. Some people aren’t always comfortable screaming their opinions from the rooftops, including ones not about feminism, so that should not undermine their beliefs in feminism. Yes, we should participate in consciousness raising in all areas of discourse, but I know a LOT of people who feel uncomfortable sharing their opinions on feminism because they aren’t sure if they totally understand all sides of an issue, or still are teasing out their beliefs on the subject and are worried they will be torn apart for being “wrong” and a “bad feminist”. I’ve even taken a part in this, unfortunately. I remember one girl who was in a gender communication class with me did not even understand the basics of LGBT identities. I brushed her off as “not authentic” or unaware of feminism, if though she said she thought she was. Instead of taking the time to think- hey maybe she is new to these ideas and values and she does not know, I chose to leave her out and lost the chance to educate someone else and have them see all aspects of feminism as important. We need to take the time to educate and let people feel like their opinions matter, especially when they are only beginning to learn.
The qualifying of feminists as good or bad is a concept I have struggled with all year while blogging. As I tried to create a criteria of what makes the perfect feminist, I realized- who am I to say what makes a “good” feminist? Why are we spending our time ranking women and arguing about what we should be arguing about instead of working together as much as possible? Sometimes I wonder if I am too focused on every facet of feminism and trying to push for every issue at once when really the end goal has been in front of me the whole time, and it took me a Buzzfeed quiz to really see it.
A feminist is someone who believes in the complete equality of all women and men. And if you support that, I will not qualify your worth as “good” or “bad”.