On Suffering From Feminist Exhaustion Syndrome
I was merging onto the freeway when it happened. I started to move over from the exit lane into the regular lane, when all of a sudden I heard a loud and extremely pissed off sounding car horn from just behind me.
I was already upset, and now I was extraordinarily close to getting into a wreck on one of Phoenix’s busiest freeways. It was definitely not what I needed at that moment.
I avoided getting into a wreck. Somehow. But I pulled off the road as soon as I could, and I broke down. My car was fine. I, however, was not. I was shaken by the experience, but that was only a part of it. I’d had a moment of Feminist Exhaustion Syndrome right at the moment the angry man in the blue Jaguar had honked loudly and slammed on his brakes to avoid ramming into my car.
This was the week of the Todd Akin controversy. I wrote up the incident for Feminspire, and the remarks were fresh in my mind. And then, while listening to National Public Radio, as I usually do when I commute, they played the now-infamous clip of his “legitimate rape” remarks for probably the fifth time that day while I’d been listening.
Then the host went into a discussion about the many, many previous times that a male politician (always a Republican, I might add) has decided that he ought to bring his warped and entirely incorrect ideas of how the female reproductive system works to influence his policy preferences as a member of Congress or the U.S. Senate.
As the host went down the list, I got more and more frustrated, more and more angry that this is the level of debate in this country: STILL relying on false ideas. STILL convinced that a man so wholly unconnected to the actual experiences of the people he presumes to represent (in this case, pregnant rape survivors) deserves another chance to represent ANYONE.
I’d been face-palming a lot that week. But this was on another level. I couldn’t believe that we were still having this debate. I couldn’t believe that anyone would invoke such a private, personal decision as motherhood, adoption, abortion, whatever – a decision of another person, a person with choice, agency and personhood – as a political football. It’s cheap. It’s downright cheap.
I’m sick of people alleging that being pro-choice means we’re all baby-killers. I’m sick of people saying that they don’t want their taxpayer dollars going towards subsidizing birth control because women should just keep their legs closed. I’m sick of people telling me that feminism doesn’t matter, that because I’m a feminist I must hate men, that because I support the right of two consenting adults to marry each other regardless of their biological sex I am anti-family and that I have no values. I’m sick of seeing people of color marginalized. I’m sick of seeing women objectified. I’m sick of seeing my LGBTQ friends targeted for humiliation and terrible abuse. I’m sick of people telling me that my generation is lazy and worthless. I’m sick of hearing that we can’t make a difference just because the unknown speaker can’t think of a way to make a difference.
I am frustrated. There have been several days that I have felt overwhelmed – Feminist Exhaustion. I know I’m not the only one to feel this way – I’ve talked to several other Feminspire staffers and they, too, have experienced this phenomenon.
Fighting the patriarchy (not individual men, not even men as a group: the patriarchy) is exhausting. Fighting for the recognition of basic rights for the LGBTQ community; for people of color; for people at all points on the gender spectrum; for all income brackets; all age groups – it’s exhausting. And there are moments (more than some) when I want to quit keeping up with politics altogether. I want to drop out of the feminist community. I want to give up and just go with the patriarchal flow.
But I won’t.
I truly believe intersectional feminism is the way forward for all of the “Feminist Community” (as though we are one bloc to begin with) and I’m sick of seeing some of my fellow white cis feminists get on their mighty high horse while ignoring the very real concerns of other members of the feminist community – people who become marginalized within and without feminism.
Whatever those who oppose feminism may think, it truly is about equality. Not about making women* better off than men. Not about promoting a radical ideology.
It’s about equality.
And while I get often fed up (which happens quite frequently with the current political climate in the U.S.), I remember that there are people all around the world who believe the same things that I believe and who have my back when I’m just too pissed off at the world.
Have you ever suffered from Feminist Exhaustion? Share with us in the comments below.
Written by Savannah Thomas