It’s safe to say that most of our readers at Gurl are feminists–that is, anyone who is of the belief that there should be social, political, and economic equality across all genders. That’s a label I realize not everybody is comfortable with. Why? Anyone with a Tumblr account will tell you that in order to call yourself a feminist on the internet, your feminism has to be spotless, flaw-free, and not problematic at all. No “Bad Feminists” allowed or you will be absolutely dragged.
But feminism is an ongoing discussion. And while it’s important to be aware of your privilege and be mindful to keep your feminism intersectional, we all say “problematic”–another favored word of Tumblr–sh*** from time to time. Furthermore, your moral compass doesn’t have to color and guide every aspect of your life. Yeah, I said it. You can be problematic and know it and keep doing it anyway. Has anyone actively stopped dancing when Chris Brown came on at a school dance and sat down on principle? Because if you did, high five, good for you, etc., but *not* doing that doesn’t mean you’re a Bad Feminist.
Actually, saying that someone is a good or bad feminist implies that there’s a right and wrong way to be a woman, let alone a feminist, and that’s just not true. So as long as you believe in equal rights and make empowered choices in what you do–even if it’s deemed problematic by the internet–you’re in the clear. “Good” feminists even mess up their feminism sometimes. Mistakes happen. The important thing is that pick themselves up, learn, and move on. There is no line drawn in the sand where if you cross it, you’re kicked out of being a feminist forever. Gloria Steinem doesn’t show up on your door and slap you. You’re okay. Being a bad feminist isn’t the end of the world. In fact, these 15 things don’t make you a bad feminist at all, they just make you an autonomous person living their life. There’s nothing wrong with that:
1) Shaving your body hair.
Legs and armpits in particular, but especially pubes. What a woman does with her pubic hair is her choice. It’s so weird how some people will advocate for a woman making choices about her body in all other areas of their lives, but when it comes to pubic hair, will actively shame someone for waxing or shaving. Let it go. Not your pubic hair, not your problem.
2) Being attracted to men.
Yes, sexuality is a spectrum. Sexuality is fluid in that it ebbs and flows and changes over time. That’s perfectly natural. However, it’s totally okay if yours only flows in being attracted to different types of men. You don’t have to hook up with girls or even be open to it in order to still be a feminist. Some people are really that straight. It doesn’t matter.
3) Liking weddings.
Yes, weddings are heteronormative and patriarchal. If we’re being real, a lot of the staging of it still portrays women as virgins and the ceremony looks like a transference of property between father and husband, and it stems from that specific archaic practice and ceremony and we still do it now for… some reason. BUT! Weddings are still the best parties, wedding dresses are pretty, and love is the best. Weddings are so fun.
4) Wanting to be a stay at home mom.
I know being a mom is probably very far off a lot of your guys’ radars, but I’ve had friends who’ve told me from very early on that they wanted to be stay at home parents once they started to have kids. Full on quit work and devote their time to being a homemaker. That’s your choice! It’s totally cool. It’s your feminist prerogative whether or not that’s the best decision for you and your (future) family and literally no one else’s business.
5) Playing misogynistic video games.
Hey, Grand Theft Auto. How are all those hookers? Have enough violence against women? While these games definitely have issues, playing them doesn’t make you a bad feminist, and it’s absurd for anyone to suggest otherwise.
6) Watching The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.
Or really, anything in that franchise. It ruins the sanctity of marriage and real relationships but… oh my god it’s so entertaining. No guilt necessary.
7) Liking rom-coms and heteronormative romantic cliches.
Romantic comedies are the superior movie genre. SUE ME. Big, unrealistic romantic gestures as acted out by a fictional couple? Sign me up.
8) Finding entertainment value in things that don’t pass the Bechdel test.
The Bechdel test, for those of you who don’t know, is a benchmark in entertainment in order to monitor the relative presence and voice of women. In order to pass, two female characters must talk to each other for longer than a minute about something other than a man. Sounds easy enough, right? Once you’re aware of it, you’ll be surprised how many films don’t pass this test. And you know what? You can still watch them anyway, even while you critique it’s lack of female presence. Critique can exist separate from enjoying something.
9) Being really into princesses and Disney.
You know what? You can mine out heroic qualities in all of those characters. Pink sparkly things and princess-themed anything is totally worth being into. Like I said, saying women can’t and shouldn’t do anything is inherently anti-feminist. If you like princess stuff, keep doing it. Who’s stopping you?
10) Playing with Barbies or other dolls.
Unrealistic standards for women’s bodies aside, we all play(ed) with Barbies growing up. It’s not the end of the world. They’re just dolls.
11) Having a problematic fave.
The moment a celebrity says something out of line, the internet drags them. Sure, they’ve said weird shit in the past, but you still like them. You don’t have to agree with a celebrity or artist’s views on life in order to enjoy their movies, music, shows, or books.
12) Watching porn.
LOL. It happens.
13) Giving blow jobs.
You’re never going to feel like an empowered feminist while you’re s-ing some d. Unless you do–some people do!–in which case, hey girl. Good for you.
14) Not agreeing with everything a feminist counterpart says.
There’s a myth of universal sisterhood that needs to be broken. Just because you’re a feminist doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything another feminist says. Have a discussion. Disagree on something. The end result is going to be so much better than if you were to be complacent. Learning how to disagree in a compassionate way is an important part of being mature and advocating for social justice.
15) Being white, cisgendered, heterosexual, and able bodied.
Hey, privilege. It’s not your fault you were born this way. Really. While you may not be included in some safe spaces for people of color, the lgbtqia+ community, or disabled people, you can still be an ally. You can use your privilege to pass the mic to voices who are less likely to be heard. There are plenty of ways to be a good feminist ally without making it all about you.
Are you a feminist? What makes you feel like a bad feminist? Is there such a thing as a bad feminist? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.
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