Having spent most of the past nineteen years of my life identifying as a feminist, I’ve had more than a few people imply, if not outright say, that I was being a ‘feminist killjoy’ for critiquing them or voicing my opinion, so I feel pretty qualified to dish out some advice on how you too can be labeled as such for pushing for gender equality.
- Call Out Sexism When You Hear it
Did that guy from your science class just make a ‘get back in the kitchen’ joke? Did your friend’s brother laugh about raping someone? Let them know that that kind of stuff won’t fly with you. It can be easy to see things like that as harmless, just throwaway jokes that don’t really matter, but the reality is that casual sexism has a real, lasting affect on society as it normalizes attitudes to women that should be destroyed.
2. Call Out Your Friends Too
This doesn’t just apply to random classmates or acquaintances that you don’t know that well, feminism has to extend to people you love too. It can be difficult to talk to people you care about when they’ve said something problematic, because you never want to hurt or offend them, but if they are true friends, they should be receptive to what you have to say. No one is perfectly ‘woke’ all the time and by starting conversations with friends you can grow together and help each other to dismantle idea that are wrongheaded and develop better ones.
3. Dismantle Your Internalized Misogyny
Growing up in this culture, girls are taught a lot of things about themselves that instill unhealthy attitudes towards their own sex. We are often taught to view other women as competition, both for men’s affections and for careers and opportunities, it can often feel like we are all in a race to fulfill the position of ‘token woman’ in men’s lives and in careers, which can lead to us unnecessarily reinforcing negative gender stereotypes. So next time you’re scrolling through Instagram and see a scantily clad woman and immediately think ‘slut,’ pause and recognize the thought for what it is: a taught and sexist reaction and vow to ignore that niggling voice.
4. Critique the Media You Consume (Even if You Love It)
Okay, it’s fine to like things that are problematic. There is no TV show that is completely perfect in the way that it portrays women and it’s okay to accept that, call it out and ask for change, while still being a fan. Take a leaf out of the book of fans of shows such as Supernatural, who are vocal on the show’s queerbaiting, racism and treatment of women, while still enjoying the show. Just as I can accept that one of my favorite, feminist shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer, was created by someone who is incredibly problematic and has lots of issues in terms of intersectionality, but I still love it and appreciate it for its good qualities whilst critiquing it.
5. Don’t Forget To Be Intersectional
This is a point that lots of people forget about and that can’t be allowed to happen. I’ve said this over and over and will never stop until everyone is in agreement, feminism can’t be considered real feminism if it is not intersectional. If you are only advocating for feminism that helps white, cis, middle class women, then what is the point? Movements too often leave women of color, trans women, disabled and lower class women behind and then consider themselves progressive, which can’t be true. That’s why you need to ask the tough questions, such as why is it mainly white women fronting big movies and why are we expected to be satisfied with that? Or why Lupita Nyongo is the only accusation that Harvey Weinstein responded to?
So, if you follow these basic steps, you too might one day earn the nickname of feminist killjoy and I hope you wear that supposed insult as a badge of honor.