Sometimes being a feminist is hard. I mean outside of the obvious stuff like the continual oppression and marginalization of women, our bodies, our opinions and all that. I am talking about the other stuff.
The things that I used to be able to enjoy because of a deliberate ignorance or wilful blindness to how it made women look or feel. Oh, yes, I hear you Katy Perry and even you Madonna, and you too, Juliette Binoche. There are days when it totally sucks to be a feminist.
Like when that new song by Maroon 5 comes on the radio, and I really do like that Adam Levine and his ability to pull off skin tight pleather and make it look sexy as hell, and then I listen a bit closer and catch the drift of the lyrics and it all seems rather aggressively stalker-ish to me. And then I watch the video and IT IS ABSOLUTELY ABOUT CREEPY STALKER ADAM! I get that it is art and meant to provoke and blah, blah, blah, but why does so much art always have to have as its subject the terrorizing, objectification, and/or attacking of women?
Or like when everyone is going on and on about how they can't wait for their annual viewing of everyone's favourite holiday movie, Love Actually, and all I can think of is how every single story line in that movie trots out a tired old misogynistic trope of the female movie character and none of the story lines has a women as the MAIN focus. Not once does this movie even veer in the vicinity of the Bechdel Test. Emma Thompson is the tired housewife whose husband is on the verge of cheating on her and she just has to suck it up like a good girl. Hugh Grant, charming as he is, has a crush on the "chubby" girl from the wrong side of the tracks. The weird and twisted obsession that Andrew Lincoln's character has with his best friend's wife - and then she KISSES him? Laura Linney may have a pseudo-main-story line, but it is just so bloody painful to watch, as she sacrifices any happiness of her own for her brother. And the "I'm going to America to get me some hot girls", well... do I really have to say anything about that story line?
These days, the only thing that saves the movie just a teeny bit for me is the relationship that Martin Freeman and Joanna Page strike up in the most awkward of circumstances and the fact that little Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) looks like a ginger version of my kid. So, fine, I'll watch it. BUT, I am not going to like it that much and I will be rolling my eyes A LOT!
Being a feminist is hard when I am trying to watch a Disney movie with my kids. I grew up with Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. I know all the words to all the songs for all the movies, I had a MAJOR crush on the Beast when he changed back to the handsome prince and have always loved the idea of having a Fairy Godmother to look out for me. Nowadays though, things are different. And even though I don't actually do this (for fear that they may never want to watch a movie with me again), I feel like I should be pausing these movies every few minutes for short feminist lessons. NO, it is not right that the Beast took Belle away from her father and locked her up - that's called kidnapping and it is illegal. NO, what Ursula is saying to Ariel is not the way to "get a guy to love you". Actually... let's just fast forward this whole bit.... because it is really quite awful. And while Frozen may have it's own feminist issues and is not perfect, Anna is right - you really CAN NOT marry a man you just met that day!
Now, of course I know that these instances of hardship while being feminist are not actually that hard. That there are women who have been murdered because of the simple fact that female is their gender, that being a woman and having an opinion on something makes you a target for threats and hate these days. That there still exists a pay gap between men and women doing the exact same job and that for most girls and women in the world, an education is a privilege and not a right.
But those little things, they do matter too. The choices that we make every day add up. Not listening to or buying music that is clearly about violence towards women is a choice you can make. Choosing to watch movies with your kids that don't relay the tired old messages of the prince saving the princess or that girls being pretty (or boys being strong and hard) is all that is needed to succeed, is a choice you can make. Saying something to that friend who is making a really sexist joke at a party, is a choice you can make. Supporting organizations that are working to provide education for girls around the world is a choice you can make.
It is not actually that hard to be a feminist. Because if you believe that all people are entitled to the same civil rights and liberties and can be intellectual equals regardless of gender, then guess what? You are a feminist.
Yes, some issues or habits or things that you used to not really care about, or perhaps didn't pay attention to or think about that deeply are going to come up right in your face and make you question both yourself and whatever that thing is. And while this may suck for a bit, trust me, in the end, we will all be better for it!