1. We don't like pink. So listen, when I was a youngster. I rejected this color and anything associated with the expectations set for me based on the sex assigned to me at birth. I hated the patriarchy before I knew the word. I knew I was a feminist before I knew what the word meant. There's a story behind that but that's for another time.
Here is the thing about pink. From the jump, as soon as the people in your life know what's between your legs, they're thrusting a color on you. I get it, it's a useful identifier, but now we've taken a color and we've begun to associate it with incredibly specific gendered traits. Because of this, it might seem like part of being taken seriously as a feminist, you need to reject pink the way I did my entire childhood.
No. Absolutely not. It was easy to resent something constantly being shoved down my throat when I'd rather be outside playing football and fishing with the neighborhoods but there is nothing wrong or innately non-feminist about embracing pink and its associated femininity. I can't dictate what feminism means to everyone but I know what I think it should be; a loving space where we can all learn, grow, and become better humans. This leads into my next item.
2. Being the perfect feminist. I honestly don't know what this is supposed to look like. I've read feminist think piece after feminist think piece in order to better educate myself and I can say with ease, I am thoroughly confused and don't know what being a feminist fully looks and acts like. However, we can all agree it's no longer bra burning. Although, I'd burn mine because I'm offended by the amount of discomfort I have to go through in order to feel "supported".
The problem is there are women - I'm sorry, people, who will put you down for not meeting their idea of what a proper feminist looks like. And you know what I say to those people? "Grow up." At some point we were new to the movement, just crawling like newborns. I cringe looking back on some of the things I said and did while convinced I was this amazing progressive feminist.
So, here's what I have to say, if you're struggling to be the perfect feminist. Go easy on yourself. You will never stop learning and I think that's how it should be. I’m still learning. Fun fact, when I first used the word, I thought it meant the opposite of what it actually means and I have not lived it down. But the amazing person who witnessed my faux pas is still my friend 15 years later. So, I’m doing something right. Feminism should be a safe space for people who are learning or people who want to learn and get better. If we put down those who mean well instead of treating the situation as an educational opportunity, aren't we practicing the same intolerance we reject?
3. Being a #girlboss. A true girl boss needs no one. She is focused on her career and lives for the hustle. She is a strong independent woman who needs no one. Which I guess is fine, but you know what? If a girl boss wants to have someone in her life who is more than just a member of her #girlgang, that's cool too.
What I’m saying is, there is room for romance if that’s what you want. You can be a strong career woman who also dreams of having a meet cute or at least a Tinder match that goes somewhere. I work away at my writing, read books to improve my craft, submit to multiple publications, I’m a staff writer for a site that isn’t my own, but you can bet that I also love having an incredibly supportive girlfriend who gets to watch my hair eventually turn gray from all the stress I intentionally take on.
And maybe you don’t want to be a girl boss at all because the hustle is not for you. Girl, do your thing and just be happy, whatever that looks like for you. You can kill the game just by being you. Girl boss is not a synonym for feminist. I think the two have become intertwined in some circles and you might be questioning your feminist credibility because you don’t meet this criteria. I’m here to tell you that the two can exist separately.
4. Being educated on every issue. Okay look, I believe learning should never stop. If you stop seeking knowledge you become stagnant and prone to acts of ignorance. With that being said, it’s scary out there for a young budding feminist who wants to join the discourse but avoids it all together because she doesn’t feel well versed on the present issue.
If this is your situation, it’s okay. You are not alone. I too find myself admiring my friends while they fervently discuss certain hot button topics. It’s a beautiful thing. You just hope they don’t ask for your input because everything you know about climate change you just learned in the last five minutes.
What I’ve done is make notes for myself to “look this up” at a later point because I want to know more, do more, participate. Commit yourself to continued education, no one knows everything.