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Knowledge, Perspectives

Gen Z Frenzy

Polite Passivity: The Root of Bad Feminism

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Having recently engaged in far too long a chat with a man who prefaced our conversation with, ‘we probably won’t get along, because you seem like a leftie feminist’, afterwards I pondered: ‘why did I bother to carry on talking to him?’

“Don’t worry, I’m not that good at it” is what I would’ve replied if I was being perfectly honest. Instead, I opted for loud silence accompanied by a slightly perturbed face (before bitching about it to my group chat). Upon some existential level self-reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was polite passivity that forced me to continue the conversation with Mr Anti-feminist which is – in my opinion – one of the roots of bad feminism.

Sure, I’m a bad feminist in more ways than I’d like to admit; I nod along to someone mansplaining to me how to work a radiator, I apologise for saying what I mean, and I end every work email with ‘no worries if not!’. But, is it better to be a really sh*t feminist than not at all? And, if you never speak up for what you believe in, is there much point in believing in it?

It’s only natural that after years of being spoken over, women have got used to the idea of not speaking up. As Roxane Gay once said, “When women respond negatively to misogynistic humour, they are “sensitive” and branded as “feminist,” a word that has, as of late, become a catchall term for ‘“woman who does not tolerate bullsh*t.”

Toleration is boring, and it’s got me stuck in far too many conversations with men who say things like ‘you’re funny for a girl’ – thanks mate, you’re awful, even for a man, so why am I bothering to play nice?

Modern feminism is less about burning bras and more about burning bridges, so if, like me, you often find yourself nodding and smiling at things that make you want to claw your eyes out, stop it. Stop trying to avoid awkwardness that wasn’t created by you.

Happy International Women’s Day, and don’t worry if you’re a bad feminist, as long as you’re a loud one. x


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