Guest Post: Goofy Feminism
Whoa-man is a long-time fan of Exponent II. She was introduced to the community by some of the founding mothers while she was working on her PhD in Boston and has been grateful ever since. She just gave birth to her first child and is trying to figure out the work/life balance.
What image comes into your head when you think of the word feminist? For some it is a baby-hating red power suit wearing bra burning man-eater. For others it is a revolutionary suffragette handcuffed to her cause and being threatened by egomaniac law enforcers with raised night sticks (pun intended). For most it is a hardened serious person described with words such as: bitter, cynical, critical, and/or bitchy.
Even for ardent feminists the word doesn’t usually connote a light or funny person. However, this idea is completely contrary to most of the feminists I know. The feminists I know are silly, happy, loquacious, adventurous, easy to smile, gregarious women who do not take themselves too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, they take issues about female inequality and sexism very seriously, but themselves, not so much.
The feminist I know are hilarious, irreverent women who know how to have a good time. When we get together it is more likely that we are laughing rather than screaming. Cackling before cajoling. Giggling more than marching. Bonding instead of tearing each other down.
One of my feminist friends tells stories that make you almost pee your pants. Another is so quick to laugh it’s infectious. Another says the most outrageous things you wonder how she makes it through her day without offending or befriending everyone she meets. In fact, I have never met the stereotypical bitter, single-minded, power hungry feminist. At least not one I didn’t instantly like because she was also fun.
Me, I’m a goofy feminist. While I have my serious side, I can be a capable mother, caring wife, fastidious career woman, and responsible calling magnifier. I’m also the foot-in-my-mouth, falls on the floor laughing, do a little jig, clap my hands too fast and too loud in excitement, face, noise, and smell making, goofy person. I can probably write an embarrassing story for every week of my entire life (and yes, they begin very early). I just do goofy things. It is a quintessential part of me just as much as my feminism. They are not mutually exclusive.
Sure I get feisty about women’s rights. I talk passionately. I feel enraged. I cannot tolerate or feel complicit in injustice. But for every time I cry out in frustration, I’ve laughed at the perpetrators 10 times more. For example, we have this counselor in the bishopric who is outrageous. He attends every activity (even those not in his stewardship), has opinions about every decision (and voices them), and oversees everything from the folding of the chairs to whether or not next year’s meeting (365 days away) will be a potluck or not.
This guy is crazy. While no one directly confronts him, tells him to back off, or asserts their rights in the traditionally feminist sense, every woman that I know in the ward—feminist or not—secretly laughs or tells jokes about him. I hope I’m not divulging “The Secret Life of Bee-hives” or something, and I know that gossip is “bad,” but maybe that is where we claim our power. Maybe our laughter is a tool for recognizing the absurdity of injustice, our way of subverting structural violence. Maybe humor protects our unhealed wounds. Maybe that is why all the feminists I know are funny.
So my question to you is: Is there really that feminist archetype out there? Do we take ourselves too seriously or do we just have a serious public relations problem?