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When the Meek Inherit the Movement

Bland, sweet, bikini-waxed: that’s feminism now

If you asked me today if I am a feminist, I would not only say no, I would say no with a sneer.

Don’t worry—this is not where I insist I am not a feminist because I am afraid of being mistaken for one of those hairy-legged, angry, man-hating feminists who are drawn up like bogeymen by men and women alike. Nor will I now reassure you of my approachability, my reasonable nature, my heteronormativity, my love of men, and my sexual availability—despite the fact that this disclaimer appears to be a prerequisite for all feminist writing published in the last fifteen years.

Feminism is an attack dog posing as a kitten with a droplet of fresh milk on her nose.

If anything, that pose—I am harmless, I am toothless, you can fuck me—is why I find myself rejecting the feminist label. All of these bad feminists, all these Talmudic “can you be a feminist and still have a bikini wax?” discussions. All of these reassurances to their (male) audiences that they don’t want too much, won’t go too far—“We don’t know what Andrea Dworkin was on about either! Trust us.” All of these feminists giving blowjobs like it’s missionary work.

Somewhere along the way toward female liberation, it was decided that the most effective method was for feminism to become universal. But instead of shaping a world and a philosophy that would become attractive to the masses, a world based on fairness and community and exchange, it was feminism itself that would have to be rebranded and remarketed for contemporary men and women.

They forgot that for something to be universally accepted, it must become as banal, as non-threatening and ineffective as possible. Hence the pose. People don’t like change, and so feminism must be as close to the status quo—with minor modifications—as it can be in order to recruit large numbers.

In other words: It has to become entirely pointless. 

Feminism is

• a narcissistic reflexive thought process: I define myself as feminist and so everything I do is a feminist act, no matter how banal or regressive—i.e., no matter what I do, I am a hero.

• a fight to allow women to participate equally in the oppression of the powerless and the poor.

• a belief that disagreement or conflict is abuse.

• a protective system utilizing trigger warnings, politically correct language, mob rule, and strawmen arguments to allow a person never to feel uncomfortable or challenged.

• an attack dog posing as a kitten with a droplet of fresh milk on her nose.

• a decade-long conversation about which television show is a good television show and which television show is a bad television show.

• a bland reworked brand of soda, focus group tested for universal palatability and inoffensiveness, scientifically proven to leach calcium from your bones, with an enormous marketing budget; tagline: “Go ahead, be a monster. You deserve it.”

• aspiration: Those below you may be pitiable, but not really your concern. Those above you are modes of behavior for attaining the best life. The best life is defined as a life of wealth, comfort, and firm buttocks.

• all about you.

For those reasons and more, I am not a feminist.

Excerpted from Jessa Crispin’s new book, Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto (Melville House, 2017), out this week.