As Americans, we keep righteous indignation heaped with our raked leaves in suburban backyards. It’s apple pie. It’s collegiate sexual assault. It’s tradition. I’m no stranger to the feeling. I get righteously indignant about things every day. I just suck at the follow-through so I try not to rant and rave too much on social media lest I be caught in an embarrassing conflict of interest.
Feminism as a trend annoys me. If that sounds confusing, it’s the phenomenon of popular celebrities “coming out” as feminists but sort of missing a lot of the point of the struggle. These faux-minists don’t let that stop them from making speeches and influencing the impressionable minds of America’s youth (and a rogue 30-year-old). They just make music with misogynist tones or diversity-phobic cable TV shows and meekly apologize when a media outlet calls them out for “racial blind spots”. Meghan Trainor fancied herself a hero to chubby little munchkins everywhere when she released “All About That Bass” and flipped the shame game onto skinny girls, like we fat girls so love to do. She also didn’t think about the fact that the entire song is about the desirability of a woman’s body based on what men would prefer. The song is like if you ground up the autonomy of the female body with Sir Mix A Lot and squeezed it into the intestinal casing of the Patriarchy. Chart-topping sausage. That, and “Dear Future Husband”, which is so obviously harmful that I’m not even going to explain why, are SO damn catchy, though. Like, I love both of those songs. Hate Meghan Trainor. Diva-hand the business out of literally any of her songs when they come on the radio. I know it’s wrong. I feel bad. But the bop. I can’t resist the bop. Don’t tell her I said that.
Today, as I half-heartedly scrolled through my Facebook feed, I learned that H&M might use sweatshop-style practices to keep their trendy wares at low, low prices. I stopped, sighed and let out a little whimper. I love H&M. For the very cost-effective reason that likely drives them to use pseudo-indentured servants. So now what do I do? Do I stop stocking my closet with multi-colored grandpa sweaters and tasteful high-waisted slacks that are perfect for the business-casual young professional? Or do I pretend I never saw it? Just close my eyes, hum a soothing tune like “All About That Bass” and merrily skip on into the brightly lit retail haven? Yes. That’s exactly what I do. I scout for sales and get that mod-inspired dress for half the price they originally planned when they tied little Timmy to his sewing machine (or however that works). Of course I am horrified at the prospect of anyone being forced to labor over synthetic fabrics for well below a living wage. Of course. But I also have a limited budget and really like fall fashions.
It comes down to whatever is easiest for me. I want to make a difference, I really do. I don’t want to be this cog in the problem-machine of our country. But I also don’t want to try that hard. I like not doing things. I like convenience and boppy tunes that allude to a reward-blowjob but never own up to it. I like saying “#squadgoals” and drinking seasonally flavored lattes out of solid red cups. But I also like for women of color (and any other combination of intersectionality) to have equal rights and opportunities. I also hate that we live in a literal caste system but we pretend we don’t, just like Meghan Trainor pretends she’s not promising her future husband a David Blowie if he nods and smiles while she nags him.
I’m conflicted. I’m basic. I’m a white feminist. I’m sorry. I’ll try harder. Probably. I’ll definitely mean to.