Dear straight feminists,
Please do me a favour and shut the hell up for a second. I promise, it won’t do you any harm.
You probably know me. Not personally, but you might well be used to defending yourself against accusations that you are me. I am, after all, the archetypal feminist; the kind they parody when they mock our movement. I’m unattractive and I’m fat and I have a butch haircut. I’m mentally ill and I’m queer and, due to a lifetime of rocky experiences with men, I don’t really like them very much. I’m an ugly, man-hating gay feminist.
I’ve noticed a worrying trend amongst straight feminists. In response to these vicious and not always inaccurate stereotypes, many of you simply decry, “No, but I’m a feminist and I’m straight and conventionally pretty!” Well, good for you, you winner of the social and genetic lottery, but you’re massively missing the point.
What you’re doing is creating a dichotomy between you, an acceptable woman, and me, an apparently unacceptable woman. Does my queerness, my unattractiveness, somehow make my opinion or my femininity less valid?
I mean, in certain eyes, of course it does. The misogynists who are perpetuating the image of the archetypal feminist in the first place are doing so because they don’t know how to attack the actual movement (or simply don’t see that it’s necessary when character assassination and bullying is such an easy and accessible option). They can systematically silence us as women by creating an image no one wants to be associated with.
By claiming that we’re ugly and queer, they’re saying that our worth as people is solely to be attractive and sexually available to men. Since we’re not, for want of a better word, ‘screwable’, we have no use. No power. Our voices don’t matter, so no one has to bother to listen. By invalidating at us at a purely surface level, on the basis of appearance and sexuality, the implication is that these are the only things women have to offer the world, and without them we’re useless.
When you, my dear misguided straight feminists, reply to these comments with pouty selfies and captions that read, “Oh really? Do I look like a gross lesbian to you?”, you’re not helping anyone. In fact, you’re tacitly agreeing with the oppressor. You’re saying, “Yes I see your point, but I’m not one of those feminists so you can listen to what I have to say about sexual inequality.” Believe me, they’re not still gonna listen to you. People like that might well never listen. But we hear you. We hear you loud and clear saying that you’re better than us, somehow more woman and more feminist than us. And trust me, it’s not going down well.
In short, you need to check that heterosexual privilege of yours and make sure you’re not erasing your queer and otherwise less visible sisters.
The ugly feminist poster girl