Saturday, August 28, 2010

the bigger picture

oh, it's all so fucking exhausting.

being a Good Feminist™, i mean. after all, there's so much to be *angry* about! and i mean that genuinely - there really is so much to be angry about. i have a lot of friends that spend exorbitant amounts of time reading feminist theory and being angry. seriously, it's amazing they have time to do anything else!

and it's all true. i hate living in a world where so much of the way i'm perceived by others has more to do with the boobs they see than what i'm like as a person. i hate living in a world where i have to wonder if i'm not being undervalued in my monthly paycheque. i hate living in a world which thinks the single most salient characteristic of my personhood is my chromosome set, and markets everything around me and to me based on what they believe that chromosome combination Should Mean.

i hate having to constantly second guess the motives and historical and patriarchal influence behind everything and everybody - including everything *i* personally think and feel and do. i hate hate hate it.

see? there really is so much to be angry about!

and that's before you get to all the intra-movement in-fighting about priorities, and strategies, and scrabbling for scarce resources, and slights (imaginary, unintentional and real), and who speaks for whom, and the contingent who believe they have the moral imperative to tell you You're Doing Feminism Wrong.

who has the energy for all of that?

i mean i do, a lot of the time. i used to have more - it's easy to get and stay all good-and-riled-up when you're fresh out of uni with few other responsibilities or demands on your time. not so easy when you're nearing forty, but i'm a hot-tempered bleeding-heart liberal by nature so it's easier to keep my juices flowing about all the injustices in the world.

but goddamn, sometimes i just want to tell all those young idealist women who spend all that time being angry, that eventually you have to step back. that being that angry all the time will drain you dry. that as you get older you realise that Being Right isn't always the most important thing. (and as heretical as the idea seems, sometimes there isn't even a Right or Wrong!) that seeing the world through whatever the opposite of rose-coloured glasses is, tints everything with the same bleak hue.

and that for all there is to be angry about (and there is a lot of stuff to be angry about! a lot of stuff worthy of good, honest anger honed to a razor sharp edge of righteous indignation!), there is also so much more to life that is joyful. there is love and beauty and kindness and warmth. for every injustice worth railing long and hard against, there are also things worth celebrating - and some of it is even part of the kyriarchy.

you've got to choose your battles in this world. and all Good Feminists™ should fight the fight, and never stop fighting. but sometimes you concede the battle in hopes of winning the war. and sometimes you have to step back and look past the battlefield entirely, so you can see the trees and the mountains and the whole beautiful goddamn thing that makes living worthwhile in the first place.

i still want to be a Good Feminist™, but i'm finally brave enough to know when not to fight, i'm learning that there isn't always a Right or Wrong, and i'm hoping like hell to step back from the anger and exhaustion more often to see the big blue marble. i've got a world to change... but more importantly, i've got a LIFE to live.


  1. This is something I'm just starting to realize. If I get offended and riled up all the time, people begin thinking of me as a feminazi, rather than a feminist. Then they don't pay attention when it's actually something important.

    Basically, I need to quit being such a fucking drama queen.

  2. I second that. At 38, I think I am learning to pick my battles. I work in a pink collar industry, but I have a college degree and own my own business. I have a far more reasonable and equitable split of household labour with my husband than my grandparents did. I married late and had many years to explore what I wanted without the burden of a serious boyfriend, husband or children. My children don't view parenting, cooking, cleaning, working outside the home, discipline, nurturing, etc, as either male or female spheres.

    There are still things I will always rail against, like the objectification of women, a culture that makes us hate our own bodies, the indoctrination of girls into this cult of beauty at the exclusion of so much else.

    But things are better and this battle will be won by a million small advances rather than one big push.

  3. I used to work at this ad agency which was totally run on testosterone. I was one of the very few women in the creative department, but was never included on new business pitches, regardless of the project. I always joked that if they were up for a tampon account, they'd sit around in the conference room trying to figure out how it worked rather than ask an actual woman.

  4. @ chamuca "If I get offended and riled up all the time...they don't pay attention when it's actually something important."

    yes, this!

    @ formerlyfun yeah, there are always things worth railing against. but it's so easy to get overwhelmed. i'm beginning to think of it the same way i think about donating to charity - if it's not one of my identified pet causes, sorry, i can't contribute.

    @ theelder wow. just wow. that sounds soul-crushing.

  5. One of my greatest lessons:
    ME (to one of my gay friends): Why aren't you attending the gay pride parade?
    FRIEND: Why would I?
    ME: No, seriously, why?
    FRIEND: I march in a gay pride parade every single day that I take my 6'6" flaming faggot self to work as one of the most highly respected PR executives at a company whose headquarters is stuck in the middle of the Bible Belt. If that's not marching in a gay pride parade, I don't know what is.

    In other words, there's no need for all the hooplah when I realize I'm marching in a feminist pride parade every day and have been since the day I was born.

  6. love that! i'll remember that one.

  7. I don't think I sit around and stew over things, but if someone says something that I find ignorant, I tell them. Usually I try the whole "lead by example" thing. But everyone once in awhile I'll go off on something. For hours. Days. Brewing. I'll write twenty pages of notes on how everyone is bullshit, and then I'll burn them, and I won't care for another six months.

  8. I also think Mongo and her giant gay friend are geniuses.

  9. I love you Rass, you little psycho.