Reconciling Feminism and, well, Life.

So here’s the thing about being a feminist–it’s, you know, just a thing. It’s another adjective to modify the noun of oneself. It can inform some of the other adjectives that modify oneself (like you can be a writer and a feminist and they can inform each other!) but it doesn’t cancel other things out.

This can lead to some rather irksome tangled messes.

I’ve had a draft entry saved for ages now, and I keep editing it, but I just can’t get it right. The concept is basically “feminism and cosplay.” I’m a fairly active cosplayer, both with the 501st Legion and simply for my own fun at conventions and whatnot. I’m really proud of how much work I put into my costumes and how much their quality and intricacy reflects on me as a craftsman. On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of sexism and objectification in cosplay (full disclosure: I was one of Maxim’s “Sexiest Ladies of Dragon*Con”) and I have to balance my love of cosplay with my feminist politics. After my picture went up on Maxim.com following Dragon*Con 2009, I made a lot of jokes about my feminist card having been revoked. But in all honesty, I was just thrilled that my costume looked good enough out of a sea of 30,000+ people to have caught the attention of the Maxim photographer (who, in fact, was a woman).

It seems like I have to joke about my feminist card a lot. I’m involved in a lot of things outside of just feminism, and while feminism is a foundation of who I am, it doesn’t cancel out anything else of who I am.

I was thinking about this partially because of the great post about “Fucking While Feminist” over on the Sexist, featuring an interview with the amazingly bad ass Jaclyn Friedman. I like to think of myself as a less awesome version of Jaclyn, and that maybe someday I can slowly approach being closer to her level of awesome. In it, she talks about how, when dating, you kind of have to realize that dudes are usually not going to be at your level of feminism, so it’s finding compatibility and sometimes reconciling what you want in a relationship with your feminism. That makes sense to me.

It’s not just dating, though, for me. I consider myself pretty damn feminist, but a lot of parts of my life it seems like I end up having to be a slightly more moderate feminist, or have to make sacrifices in participating in things that make me happy or, to be honest, even being myself.

However, this bounces off a post from Tiger Beatdown recently about her irritation with the Liz Lemon character on 30 Rock. Now, I don’t watch 30 Rock, so I’m not familiar with the character or anything that she talks about. But I guess sometimes I feel, well, kind of Liz Lemony. It doesn’t help that I am white, educated, decently well-off woman–I’m from like the Betty Friedan pool of feminists. Feminism isn’t the number one most defining attribute that I think of myself by because I don’t need to–I think of feminism as a jumping off point for all the other things that I am. (I don’t know what my most defining thing would be, to be honest, but that’s a personal problem and not for here.) I believe that my entire life is informed by my feminism, but sometimes it’s “diet feminism” or “feminism light” or whatever, because if I’m at 110% all the time, I’ll stop enjoying the things I enjoy.

I fluctuate between feeling like I’m a bad feminist and feeling like it’s okay, because there has to be more to life than just my politics. On the other hand, politics shape our lives.

I don’t know. I’ve had a rather tumultuous week in my personal life, so trying to focus on writing a good blog entry isn’t going too well. I’m sorry about that. But I think there’s definitely something linking those two articles that needs to be looked at, and it has to do with how we live our feminism. Sometimes I think simply being who I am is feminist, but then I get a lot of people constantly asking me “how can you be a feminist and do XYZ?” So, maybe I’m doing it wrong.

One of the really awesome things that I LOVE about feminism is how interconnected it is with EVERYTHING. If you stand for gender equality–the basis of feminism–then you have to stand for all equality. So feminism and racial equality and class equality and all of this stuff ties up together. Everything is important, and interconnected. The drawback, of course, is simply that this means there’s a lot of stuff to think about and be aware of. Yeah, it’s whiny for me to call it a drawback, but there it is–sometimes I can’t live up to the feminist ideal because I just don’t keep it at the forefront of my thoughts and there’s a lot to keep yourself aware of.

Well, this is a little bit of a downer of an entry. Sorry about that. I guess, in conclusion, it’s important to balance feminism and life, without making huge sacrifices in your integrity or happiness. The slippery slope is simply avoiding slowly sliding to the easy way out of letting go of feminism under the guise of balancing.

03/26/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized.

4 Comments

  1. evolvedalien replied:

    Participation in the Sexiest Ladies of DragonCon does indeed make you a bad feminist. If you are unsure, then take a survey of feminists.

    Personally, I am suspicious of the manufactured term “objectification” and so my issue with “eye candy” is not with men’s desires, but against the imbalance that our society puts hardly any effort into offering some for the enjoyment of women.

    Wouldn’t you welcome the Sexiest people of DragonCon?

    • Cuppy van der Cake replied:

      I live in Boston, so the variety of strains of feminism I’m exposed to is varied enough that I actually got a lot of people telling me that it wasn’t at all bad that I was in the picture. Then again, they may just have been being nice to me. ;)

      Honestly, I agree with you–human beings are sexual animals, and telling us to NOT look at one another and appreciate what we find as attractive is ridiculous. And sometimes, we’re looking strictly because we want to look, not because we want a deep connection. And that’s fine, in my mind, as long as we don’t try to dress it up as something else or justify it. And, on that note, I agree with you that “eye candy” being presented for both sexes would be great! I do see a lot of “beefcake for ladies” stuff, but it doesn’t really play to what I, or most of my female friends, find attractive. Though for all I know, we’re weird.

      And yes, I would LOVE a sexiest people of DragonCon, and in my mind it would include a lot of people and costumes that I think get passed over. I’m all about broadening the definition of sexy and eye candy, whether from a gender standpoint or any multitude of others!

      P.S. Your comment posted twice, so I’m not approving the second one. Just a heads up in case you get an email that your comment was rejected or something. (I know astonishingly little about how my blog program works. I should change that!)

  2. James Welborn replied:

    Maxim is a men’s magazine, so maybe next year Cosmo (is there a Maxim-equivalent sexist women’s magazine?) can do a “Sexiest Men of DragonCon.”

    Although, I’d bet that’d be a short list.

    • Cuppy van der Cake replied:

      I would be so deeply entertained by that. There’s actually a lot of rather foxy dudes on the con circuit and I’d love to have the opportunity to ogle them a little more openly. ;)

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