As outspoken as I am about the strength and capabilities of women at the best of times, I can’t help but feel a slight hesitation when faced with the time-old question of “Are you a feminist?” It takes me a millisecond to recover before I gather my wits and muster a convincing “But of course!”, all the while hoping that my momentary lapse in judgement has escaped the notice of the other person. I outwardly roll my eyes at grown women who claim that they’re not feminists– but hypocrite that I am, a small part of me secretly gets them.
Lena Dunham makes it sound so easy when she says, “Do you believe that women should be paid the same for doing the same jobs? Do you believe that women should be allowed to leave the house? Do you think that women and men both deserve equal rights? Great, then you’re a feminist.”
Amy Poehler also makes a great argument when asked about women who shy away from the F-word, “ That’s like someone being like, ‘I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.’”.
It all sounds so simple when put like that right?
But my personal problem with wholeheartedly associating with the word is the implication that comes along with it and the responsibility that one has to shoulder in order to do the word justice. In other words, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m the best role model of what a feminist should be, which is why I get it when some people choose to forego it altogether. It’s so much easier to embody a certain set of values when you know you won’t be judged by it and when your words can’t be held against you.
But the thing is, the whole point of standing up for something is being able to defend your cause while putting yourself on the line; nothing worthy comes without a bit of sacrifice. It’s all fun and games to say you believe in something when it suits you and then run for the hills the moment the tables turn and you find yourself in a less-than-comfortable situation. Hence, the endless predicaments that plague my mind on the daily:
Yes, I’m a feminist (but is it okay that I really appreciate it when a man holds the door open for me?).
Of course I’m a feminist! (But I’ll still think you’re a cheapskate and probably financially incapable if you don’t automatically offer to pay on the first date despite my objections).
How dare you suggest I make you a sandwich, you primate! (But while you’re dragging your knuckles, could you reach up and grab that jar off the high shelf for me?)
No, if possible, I’d prefer not to have to get my hands dirty and change my own tires. Yes, I do think it makes sense for men to do most of the heavy lifting, because they’re physically built with more muscle mass than women and also because I’m lazy like that. And no, I don’t care what Taylor Swift says about there being a special hell for women that don’t help other women, if I don’t like you, I don’t like you even if we do have the same reproductive system.
Now, can I still be a feminist?
Upon much consideration, deep down, I know the answer to still be yes. Yes, because I still believe that men and women should have equal rights and equal opportunities, regardless of which sex is trying to break what barriers. Yes, because I don’t like the idea of existing in a world where women are disregarded, degraded and underestimated while being made to feel helpless and weak in all sorts of situations. Yes, because it sickens me that in some sheltered societies, women are still automatically expected to be submissive and stay at home and take care of babies while forbidden from indulging in things that men are okayed to do. And yes, because I would be angry as hell if I found out I was getting paid based on my testosterone level, or lack thereof.
Which is why, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is okay to feel like a bad feminist sometimes. It’s normal to feel like a hypocrite when to put it simply, you’re just being human. Always keeping in mind the bigger picture, at the end of the day, feminism, like everything else, is part of a never-ending learning process and as is often the case with lessons, we’re allowed to make mistakes and falter from time to time.