Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bad Blogger and "Bad Feminist"

I've been a bad blogger lately. No, a terrible blogger! Even though I have added it to my to-do list every day, set reminders on my phone, and left post-its for myself, somehow in the complete and utter chaos that is the first few weeks of school, I somehow managed to fall off the blogging wagon.

But I'm back! At least for a brief blog.  Part of my struggle in the past few weeks has been the lovely assessments I have had to administer to my students.  Not only do they LOVE taking long assessments, but I LOVE losing class time, focus, and the slight semblance of normalcy that I have tried desperately to establish in the midst of pure, unadulterated middle school craziness.

Anyways, I digress...  Before these last few weeks really became chaotic, I was invited to a book reading. My amazing, intelligent, hilarious friend Cydney, also a teacher at the City of Chicago Colleges, asked me to join her. Although I didn't know the book, or the author, I went along and was thoroughly surprised by the evening.  The book "Bad Feminist" by Roxane Gay, discusses the many versions of feminism that exist, and Gay's own struggle to find her way through the conflicting ideas and images.  With a witty, at times self deprecating, sense of humor, Gay discussed her love of Beyonce and the beautiful girls of the book series Sweet Valley High.  She does not apologize for liking the people, shows, books, and music that others may deem "anti-feminist".  She likes what she likes, and can tell you exactly why.

I found her candor and openness refreshing.  It's not often that people open themselves up to the world and say, "Take me or leave me, this is what I like. And don't you dare judge me for it."  Okay, so she didn't actually say that, but that's what I took from her talk.   Though I haven't yet jumped into the book itself (it's waiting patiently on my coffee table), I loved hearing her read excepts and talk about how her own life experiences have shaped her view of feminism. I couldn't help remember a situation a few years back when I met the younger sister of a friend of mine for the first time.  We were chatting at a party, when all of the sudden, a peppy/pop/hip-hop song came on.  She immediately started dancing - clearly enjoying the song.  But then she suddenly stop, looked at me, and apologized saying, "I'm sorry. I swear, I am a feminist." I felt bad for her then, and as I look back, I feel even worse.  I should have said something.  I should have told her what I thought about feminism, and that she could shake her booty as much as she wanted and still be a feminist.  But I looked at her in sheer disbelief (and a little sadness).

I hope my girls, and boys, at school realize they can be feminists and still dance when their favorite (possibly even misogynistic) song comes on the radio.  That they can be straight, gay, bisexual, or totally confused, and still be a feminist.  That they the can want to be a stay at home parent, or kill it in the business world, and still be a feminist.  That they can watch "Bachelor in Paradise" (who watches that???) and still be a kick a** feminist! Much like enforcing the human rights declaration, being a feminist is about finding your own path, your own connection, your own voice.  Because if it's not about you, it's not going to be real.