If you wanted feminists to be more polite, then you should have been nicer. You want feminists to be kind, to explain everything in sweet tones, to be understanding, to not be so harsh.
You want them to accept their place.
You want men to be masculine. You don’t want them to cry. You don’t want them to show love or accept it. You want them to be in charge, to be violent, to be dominant.
You want them to be anything but a woman.
You want trans men and trans women to keep to themselves. You want gay men to stop “shoving it” in everyone’s faces. You want lesbians to perform, for everyone else, all the time. You want people of color to stop talking about racism. You want people with disabilities to stop asking for accessibility.
You don’t want to be reminded of privilege, or struggle, or anything outside the bubble of what you’re comfortable with.
On International Women’s Day, I am reminded of the performative and individualistic feminism that resides across Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms. On International Women’s Day, Google searches for International Men’s Day triple in size. On International Women’s Day, the need for feminism becomes clearer than ever.
Feminism cannot be restrained to one day a year. It is a continuous battle for women’s liberation. It is a continuous battle for all of us.
It’s so easy to want to give it all up. When the girls around you say, “I like to be objectified. Doesn’t everyone, sometimes?” When the boys you know will never cry. When they hate you for taking it all so seriously. When you can’t take a joke. When “everything is about feminism with you.” It breaks your heart. It wears you down.
Sometimes all I have is my anger. I’ve been criticized for it, mocked for it, scolded for it. I shouldn’t be so angry. I’m too privileged to be angry. I alienate people with my anger. I scare them with it. I make them angry or I make them sad when they don’t want to be. So I shut up, and I keep quiet.
Sometimes I think if I opened my mouth I’d never stop screaming.
In “All the Angry Women” by Lyz Lenz, she writes of the Bible, specifically Proverbs, advising that living in the desert or on a roof is better than staying in a house with an angry woman. Another writing, centuries old, used to silence women and warn them against their anger. Their anger will make them unlovable; it will leave them isolated and alone.
Lenz ends her essay: “Sometimes I wonder if the Proverbs weren’t an admonishment of an angry woman, but a warning about the depth and breadth and scope of her wrath. A woman’s anger needs the whole house; go somewhere else. Anywhere else. Her anger is not going away.”
Sometimes all I have is my anger, and I need it. I make it my friend. I make it my ally. Sometimes, it’s all I’ve got.
My point is that we can’t push our anger and mistreatment aside in favor of not upsetting the status quo. We should be angry at the existing power structure, not at each other. Men should be angry at the existing power structure, not at us.
We have to let go of our privilege. We have to let go of our fear of change. We have to let go of what’s comfortable and what’s normal.
If we created spaces for women. If we created spaces for the LGBT+ community. If we created spaces for people of color. If we listened. If we taught men about healthy emotions and expression and respect. If we erased gender roles. If we erased ideas of gender entirely.
If we dig and dig and dig until we reach the root and turn the whole thing over to rebuild a world and a system where we are liberated, where we are finally free:
What would the world look like then?
I’m tired and I’m angry and I’m sad and I’m anxious. But, I write the articles. I do the research. I read the feminist books and essays and reports. I read the statistics on domestic violence, on crimes against women, on rape and sexual assault. I listen and I cry and I rage. I get close to the point of breaking. I get close to giving up.
But I’m fighting the good fight, still.
It’s the only fight there is.
Categories: Opinions & Editorials