What do you mean when you talk about feminism?
An email for the GWSF Book Club
A girl is seen through the roof of a limousine, passed out on the floor, wearing a shirt that says, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like."
That was the opening scene of the “UnREAL” pilot episode - a drama based on Sarah Shapiro’s real life experience working as a producer on the reality show, “The Bachelor.”
It's comical how effortless we are expected to make this look. This being life as a woman, life walking against the wind, life debating an exclamation mark or a period. Hell, life getting a period.
Hello old friend, it’s nice to see you again.
Should I say that I hope summer was great and politely introduce the next book on the tail end of a comment guffawing about all the wonderful things we did?
Because there was no book club.
And that’s sad.
You know what the end of summer means? We can refocus on some of the good shit in life that seems possible only in fall: long naps to replenish the soul, hot drinks, creamy foods, the soothing sound of rain, and you guessed it: sex with the blankets on!
Oh, and also books. I guess that's why we're here.
When you type the word “feminism” into Google, what do you get? I’ll tell you because I just did it.
Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women that are equal to those of men.
Holy shit, that’s boring. Thanks for making it past that lump of words.
So, the word feminism just doesn't do much for me. It certainly doesn’t explain how I should react when Brock Turner The Rapist is freed from jail after a short stint or when the Olympic coverage of women’s sports makes my blood boil, or when Serena Williams is asked to “twirl” on the court, or when, even now, the word feminism seems like something overused, misconstrued, said with a certain bashfulness like it’s just kind of something I’m trying on and does it make me look fat?
What does it mean when a movement that is fundamentally unfinished is fashioned into a trend, an ad campaign, a hashtag, a cliché, a scapegoat, the butt of a joke, something to put on or discard depending on the circumstance? Sometimes I just want to watch a romantic comedy without considering the Bechdel Test, I want to sing along to the vulgar rap lyrics, and sometimes I want to get down on my knees and...pray.
Does that make me a bad woman, a bad feminist? Am I letting my fellow-woman down for admitting that I prefer watching male sports?
Or, does true feminism come from the power to choose?
How do we navigate A) all the feelings already reeling inside of us because #ovaries, while B) processing all the outside messages that tell us how to act on a daily basis?
How should we feel about Taylor Swift saying she would be “honoured” to be in Kanye’s song Famous ("I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex") or the “woman card” that became such a buzzword for Trump supporters earlier in the election?
Should I care, should I…tweet? What does it say about me if I do, what does it say if I don’t?
It’s like we’re floating through space after our spaceship just exploded, trying not get hit by flying debris or spill wine on our custom-made spacesuit.
Like, is Dove doing it right because they use the intrigue of female empowerment (love your body!) to sell their soap? After all, you buy a story, not a product.
Or are they manipulative fuckers turning this whole serious matter of fem-i-ni-sm into an ad tactic and we should shun them because of it?
Are they diluting its significance or sparking a conversation?
To make the word “feminism” more than a word involves asking uncomfortable, sometimes controversial questions, about what and who we value.
It requires confronting the reality that the world has not evolved nearly as much as we’ve been led to believe it has.
I propose we have that conversation at Book Club.
So here is your book: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.
Here is your mission should you choose to accept it: read the book, formulate an opinion or remain intrinsically confused, whatever, just show up.