I suffer from a lot of self-imposed guilt including but not limited to: hangover guilt, heterosexual guilt (deriving from the fact that, although I identify as bisexual, I have a male partner and therefore am “passable” as heterosexual in the eyes of the masses and exempt from all homophobic sentiments), as well as “bad” feminist guilt, which I will discuss in depth today. While I definitely consider myself a feminist, I do worry that I am not the “best” feminist, or the “right kind” of feminist, even though I’m not even sure what the perfect feminist looks like or if she exists (I suppose it’s sexist to assume that the “biggest feminist” is a she, but let’s be real, it probably is).

When I was single, or in a relationship with a woman, or just a young rebellious cut-off wearing buzz cut-having thing, conventional expressions of radical feminism were a lot easier to convey to a narrow-minded public. Lesbians are ALWAYS seen as feminists (a popular misconception), and shaving your head is perceived by the mainstream as just about the most lesbian-y and thus feminist-y stance a woman can take. Rather than living a feminist lifestyle, I really just looked the part. I don’t believe that being a man-hater or radical separatist contributes productively to the feminist movement as a whole, because if the only method women can find of asserting power is by isolating themselves from the influence of all males, isn’t that really just admitting that females can’t thrive in their presence and are thus ultimately inferior beings? Just a theory.

These days, as you are all too well informed about, I am in a relationship with a man. Though we are by no means a “typical” couple that strictly adheres to rigid, oppressive gender roles (he does the ironing and sewing in our house), I do find myself leaning slightly more toward the Betty Homemaker stereotype than I used to (if Betty Homemaker was a borderline sex addict with a potty mouth). Though I feel insecure about my domestic inclinations and materialistic fixations, I don’t think it’s fair that I do (feel insecure, that is). Thankfully, teenage advice-giver, fashion blogger and young self-proclaimed Feminist Tavi Gevinson agrees! I am not normally in the business of trusting, or even respecting, the young people, but when it benefits my cause, I can make an exception. As Tavi so eloquently points out in her Ted Talk, “Feminism is not a rule book, It’s a discussion.” To expand on that notion, I think what really defines a feminist is someone who is brave enough to be vocal about, and to challenge, the uncomfortable, gender-bending, boundary breaking stuff, which ultimately facilitates social progress.

Too frequently feminism gets a bad rap. It can be portrayed as scary, intimating, exclusive, or judgmental. It can cause women who may already practice many of the core values belonging to feminism to shy away from claiming it as a way of life. So, in an attempt to debunk the polarizing stigma surrounding feminists and feminism, here are a few things that I want to admit I think about, despite my deep-rooted committed to equal rights and feminism.

1)    I one day hope to get married (even though it’s inhumane that gay people can’t, and the divorce rate is at an all time high or something, therefore proving that marriage is an outdated, financially-fueled ritual).

2)    I feel guilty that I don’t cook more often for my boyfriend and worry that it makes me a bad partner and even worse, a bad woman (even though I have a fulltime job and a busy freelance schedule and a woman’s place is NOT in the kitchen).

3)    I spend a lot of money dyeing my hair and am kind of addicted to being blonde (and might actually agree that blondes have more fun).

4)    I worry about my weight and body-shape out of vanity, not necessarily health.

5)    I like wearing fancy lingerie even though it’s overpriced and I should probably donate that money to charity rather than the to the adoration of my breasts ( I also hate doing laundry, so sometimes I just don’t wear any underwear).

6)    Sometimes I like being called a “slut,” and am aroused by other theoretically anti-female jargon in the bedroom.

7)    I can’t, off the top of my head, recall the exact year that women won the right to vote (It was 1920 btw).

8)    Sometimes I feel sexier when I wear high-heels (although I haven’t quite graduated to stilettos).

9)    Sometimes I get jealous of girls who know how to put on makeup (even though I prefer a natural beauty and am fortunate to have a boyfriend who also does).

10) I think it’s a sweet gesture, and I’m flattered when my boyfriend “takes” me out to dinner and picks up the tab (though I believe in going 50/50 most of the time, this is 2012, people).

Are you a feminist? Are you bad one? What are some of your personal contradictions? C’mon people, share with the class. Don’t be afraid of Ashley Judd.



Jane Helpern

About Jane Helpern

Writer & Over-sharer. @janeohelp jane@cultistzine.com