Roxane Gay and her incredibly widely known manifesto Bad Feminist looks at the state of modern feminism, painting a picture of a vary different vein of feminism to previous waves of the movement. She firmly identifies as a feminist, however outlines everything within her life that contradicts this feminism. She believes that essential feminism “doesn’t allow for the complexities of human experience or individuality”. I think her honesty and rawness is amazing, and agree that we as humans need to learn to embrace our flaws and appreciate our individuality. I do wonder, however, whether the concept of “pop feminism” or “choice feminism” (a form of “unchallenging” feminism), which I initially discovered and touched on in my previous blog post, has arisen because of this manifesto being misconstrued. I also find it interesting that in a movement so thoroughly aimed at women not having to be apologetic or subservient to men’s feelings or desires in any way, Roxane Gay, and many others, feel the need to apologise for their “bad feminism”. Stop saying sorry!
Nancy Dowd in her article on Masculinities Analysis writes about how we can look at and reform our social constructs of masculinity as a way of helping the feminist cause. She claims that through the study of masculinity and the accompanying stereotypes, we can better understand the nature of male power within our society, and the process of the subordination of women. She believes that the hierarchies that currently exist between men reinforces this subordination of women, and we would do well the understand these dynamics. While I have considered the importance that men fully identifying themselves as feminists holds in the struggle for gender equality, I hadn’t previously considered the idea that hierarchies between men themselves had an impact on issues of gender power. However, I am wary of the feminist conversation being too heavily taken over by conversations about men, which I felt almost happened at some points during Dowd’s article. She did, however, state that there were risks of using masculinities to deflect feminist critique, and I think it would be interesting to further consider how we can avoid these risks, and whether the system we currently live in fosters positive masculinity.
Roxane Gay, 2014. Bad Feminist: Essays. 1st Edition. Harper Perennial.
Nancy E. Dowd, 2010. Asking the Man Question: Masculinities Analysis and Feminist Theory, 33 Harv. J.L. & Gender 415. Available at: http://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/facultypub/83. [Accessed 8 August 2016].
Madeleine Lumley Prince