Let’s talk about what I really think of the term “feminism”.
I’ve always had a sense that I’m not a very good feminist. As you probably already know if you’ve read anything over here on my blog, I am the very definition of a hopeless romantic. I will consume any sort of romantic story, whether it be a cheesy Christmas movie, a chick flick centred on wedding planning and matrimony, or a 19th century novel with “happily ever after” as its final theme. I have longed, since high school at least, to be a wife and to find my own Prince Charming, and I often lamented during my university days when I was devastatingly single that I would rather have a husband and family than any scholarships or academic/professional renown.
Perhaps these are sentiments to be ashamed of, and, in this day and age, I have often hesitated to admit how important having a male companion in my life is to me. I felt that it would come across as a betrayal to womankind to give voice to the fact that, although I am intelligent and capable, I like to have a man to rely on and receive support from.
This past October, when I became a mother, I realized that nothing in my life will ever be as important as my son, and I feel this overwhelming desire to be the best parent possible, even if that means putting aside my other ambitions. If I never achieve any other success than being Dorian’s mom, then I will still live happily and feel incredibly accomplished.
So, I wonder again, does this make me a “bad feminist”? Does the fact that I would put my husband and son before absolutely anything else in my world, including my own goals, make me a disgrace to my fellow females?
With these questions in mind, I embarked on reading several feminist texts this past month. I haven’t ever been a huge non-fiction reader, but recently I’ve been getting into essay collections, and I thought it was high time to start thinking about some of these broader feminist questions. My reviews of these books are below, but suffice it to say that no one tome held the answers for me. That being said, Roxane Gay’s collection Bad Feminist touched me profoundly…she almost seemed to be speaking what was inside my own head with regards to feminist culture and misconceptions.
What I learned from my reading, ultimately, is that there is no one right way to do feminism. I believe strongly in the capabilities and talents of women, and there is no doubt in my mind that women deserve to be compensated and appreciated in the same way as men. However, I do still adore my husband and son, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with believing in True Love and its ability to overcome and conquer all other emotions. If I choose, for myself, to focus on being the best wife and mother I can be, that is an active choice on my part and doesn’t take away from the fact that I respect myself. I want my husband and son to treat me with respect and value me, but if I take pride in loving and supporting them, that doesn’t mean I’m any less sympathetic to the battles my fellow women face every day. And, there is no need to give up my other pursuits and goals entirely to be a good wife and mother…I can, and do plan to, have it all!
With all that said, I think when feminism becomes prescriptive and limiting, it can be dangerous. I for one appreciate writers like Gay who recognize the subjectivity of feminism and the fact that women with various jobs and interests and feelings can still be feminists in their own particular ways.
What are your thoughts on the “feminist movement”? Have you considered any of the questions I’m wrestling with yourself?
Janille N G
Girl with a Green Heart
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
This book was interesting, but I couldn’t really sum up what it’s about even if I tried. I learned a lot of facts about a variety of topics, from American frat culture to Trump’s criminal past to Queen Victoria’s pivotal influence on what we define as “wedding culture”, but I struggled to make sense of how all of this information related together and what ultimate argument Tolentino was trying to make. I don’t feel the text was all that accessible to a broad audience, and although I enjoyed the writing and found it informative, if I had to write out what I believe Tolentino’s underlying thesis is, I’d be hard-pressed to do so.
❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
I loved this book and I am obsessed with Roxane Gay’s writing. The essay “Bad Feminist: Take Two” was brilliant and 100% describes how I feel about feminism. I wish I could talk to Gay in person…I could read her work all day!
❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)
All The Lives I Want by Alana Massey
This collection of essays was good, but it frustrated me in many ways because I often felt like, as a reader, I couldn’t get at Massey herself. It wasn’t until the essays about the Lisbon sisters, Anjelica Huston and Joan Didion that I really fell for Massey’s writing and began to understand her on a more personal level, and so I feel that this book was interesting but a bit inconsistent.
❥❥❥ (out of 5)