Let’s face it: sometimes being a feminist is hard. I mean, we have a branding problem—not that the word “feminist” is bad, as Joss Whedon was helpful enough to let us know *side-eye* but that there’s not enough pride in the word, in my opinion. I personally think that feminism is great, and we need to own our achievements. To the left is one of my favorite quotations about feminism, courtesy of Caitlin Moran (click for full-size). Caitlin Moran herself raises serious questions of intersectionality, like “How can I own my own identity, not drown out the voices of others, but still maintain a truly intersectional feminism?” After all, and repeat after me—“My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit,” or put another way, “feminism is for everybody.” Not just open to everyone, but for everyone. Which raises the question of where I, a black man, get off telling anyone anything about feminism. Can I even be a feminist, or must I be relegated to the status of “pro-feminist” or “feminist ally?” I’ve decided that the answer is “yes, I’m a feminist,” but that doesn’t even begin to approach all of the horrific and/or subtle ways in which we participate in a society structured to degrade women and the feminine to deleterious effect for almost all persons.
Sometimes, fellow feminists, it helps to have something to laugh at, and who better than ourselves? Is This Feminist? is a Tumblr devoted to answering its titular question in a way that satirizes all the hard work of being a feminist and the hit-and-miss nature of having your critical eye open all the time. The blog is not updating anymore, but its twenty-five or so posts are good for a relaxing laugh when you’ve just put down Half the Sky because reading it is too hard, or the news out of Ohio, New Zealand, or New Delhi is enough to make you throw up.
All entries are deemed either “feminist” or “problematic.” I think the score is twenty-five to one for “problematic.” For example, take the image to my right. The question is posed: “This woman is acting in a play. IS THIS FEMINIST?” The answer, of course, is no.
Is she playing a character who is strong and flawless, so as not to allow for any sexist interpretations about the worthiness of all women, but also human and relatable? Until such a role is written, the best way to avoid sexism is not have female roles at all. PROBLEMATIC.
As you can see, it’s not easy to win this contest, and often that’s what being a feminist feels like. It’s certainly the good fight, especially if fought correctly, but we constantly have to figure out what “correctly” means. That is why this obscure, one-year-defunct Tumblr is my Web Crush. It reminds me to have a little humor at my own expense, and that we’re never finished.
Being a feminist is hard. Especially getting resistance from corners where I expect accord; that is disheartenening, and always throws me for a loop. But then I have no choice but to hone my arguments, so I guess that’s good, right?