Bad Feminist

What even is a feminist?

More stories from Rebecca Mennecke

The term “feminist,” often conjures up images of pretty terrifying, angry women whom you see plastered across social media, spewing sensationalized information about gender.

One instance I heard about recently was when women put up feminine products on the walls of a college campus to show the patriarchy who’s boss and thereby wasted expensive tampons and pads. I mean, they have to be kidding, right?

Women like this spout inherently anti-man rhetoric — because, apparently, we all have to be against the very idea of men to achieve equality. After all, men really aren’t necessary for the continuation of the human race, right? (Wrong.)

I am not one of those women, and I don’t believe that’s feminism at all.

For a long time, I wasn’t sure I was a feminist.

Since I was a girl I dreamed of living out the Cinderella fantasy.

I wanted a strong man who could take care of me, lots of beautiful children, a nice home in the suburbs, a job that could allow me to work while raising a family, to be feminine and beautiful … the list goes on.

Aren’t feminists supposed to abhor that Cinderella legacy? Aren’t we supposed to say “screw it!” to the patriarchy and do our own things, live our own lives and give up any aspirations for marriage and children? That’s feminism, right? (Wrong.)

I’d like to clear up any confusion: Yes, I still dream about marrying Mr. Right and picking out a super-poofy wedding dress and living happily ever after. I still aspire to be feminine, nurturing, kind and gentle. Someday, I want to be a mom. But given all of these things, I’m still a feminist.

But by all traditional standards, I’m a pretty bad feminist.

Like Roxane Gay, I listen to music that objectifies women. I watch romance movies that portray women as the inferior gender. In relationships, I make myself small to make my partner feel like a big, strong manly man. I shave. I shave everywhere. I fall into every female stereotype ever — I was a cheerleader in middle school. I had a massive crush on Tom Holland for a while. I’m terrible at math. Sometimes I’m not the best driver.

But, the older I get, the more I realize the necessity of being a feminist and giving all women and girls the chance to be who they are.

I might not be a very good one, but I’m still a feminist.

I believe in equality of opportunity. I believe that the society we live in puts women in disadvantaged positions, particularly for women of color. I think the feminist movement as we know it ignores the crucial part that men play in society and in our own lives as women, and I want to change that.

At the end of the day, I want to fight for women’s rights in a way that makes everyone feel included. I want to fight for women’s rights in a way that makes me feel like me, but I know I can continue doing better.

This is just the beginning of my story on how I’m a pretty bad feminist. Honestly, you might be one too. But, together we can figure out how to fight for equal rights for women, even if we’re a little bit bad at it.

Mennecke can be reached at [email protected].