Personal Column: The perfect feminist

There’s this perfect feminist. 

She talks about politics and criticizes those who don’t. She doesn’t wear makeup unless it’s to make a point. She’s loud and constantly makes herself heard. She’s selfless and does all she can to fix injustices in the world. She’s kind to all and doesn’t center her life around men. She cares so much. She’s such a good feminist.

I’m not her. Actually, I think I’m rather selfish.

I don’t shave, not to make any big feminist statement. Body hair just makes me feel human and I like how it looks. My mom thinks it’s gross. I think I like being gross because it means I’m something and being something means I’m doing something at least slightly meaningful. 

I’m not a bra-burner by any means, but I don’t wear bras all too often.

It’s not because I care about the social implications of doing so, only because wearing them makes me physically uncomfortable. They make it as if I’m being enveloped by a bear with lace for fur. There’s nothing inherently wrong with lace-adorned bears, they just aren’t for me, I don’t think. 

I’m pretty sure that I, as a person, would fail the Bechdel-Wallace test if I were in a movie.

I love talking about boys, about how pretty they are, about how kind one was the other day, about how funny another one’s outfit was today. It’s so instinctual for me to gossip about others for my own entertainment, but it feels wrong. As if I’m doing something wrong as a woman by paying attention to and caring about the minuscule details of men’s lives. The innate urge to talk about the drama surrounding me in everyday life feels so demonized, like I’m part of the problem. I’m the reason why teenage girls don’t get taken seriously because all we care or talk about are boys, drama, and shopping. But everything else can just be so boring sometimes.

I think there’s something so incredibly grotesque about the way I exist. 

I say “I think” so often it’s become my catchphrase. I use it to minimize my thoughts. “I think” makes my words feel like a softer blow than just saying what I think without causing any conflict or issues. It makes what I have to say seem negligible. I think that makes me a bad feminist, constantly degrading myself for the benefit and comfort of others.

Everything I do feels so fake. 

Whenever I try to be a good feminist, all that is feminine starts to blur and become edged with the obscure panic of dissociation. I don’t ever feel enough. I’m not radical enough to help others. I only do enough basic things to help myself. I do care about others, I just don’t think I care enough to be any good at it — to be the perfect feminist. 

Do I really need to be, though? 

I’m horrified to publicly talk about politics, because what if I’m wrong? I only wear makeup because it makes me feel pretty. I let people talk over me because I don’t care enough to command any attention. But I try my best. I care enough to let people know that I care. And I think that makes me a pretty okay feminist. 

I don’t think that the perfect feminist actually even exists. 

I feel like we build up this idealized person to compare ourselves to as a way to constantly fall short of our own expectations. We are all inadequate next to her. That can fuel us to want to improve ourselves, but it can also cause us to adopt a nihilistic approach to all feminism, hindering any personal or large-scale progress. 

I think the perfect feminist is fake, and deconstructing her and what she means to each person is the only way to truly progress past the hegemony of modern feminism.