I started celebrating 2015 with a New Year’s brunch in Park Slope. My friends and I packed into an old white BMW convertible and drove down a sunny street, led by the promise of crisp potatoes, strong Bloody Marys and chilled champagne. Three of four of us are staunch feminists, so the pleasant exchange about the New Year quickly devolved into a brawl about rape, chivalry, whether or not American men have charm, and the importance of being fashionable.
The brunch was a mess of things: we objectified the sexy waiter, whose eyes were an indescribable color, and hair dirtier than one would hope;
drooled over the fascinators worn by a group of beautiful black women in 1920s dress;
had a discussion about Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her. And I couldn’t possibly recreate the passionate, thoughtful argument we had about whether or not men can be raped by women. Nor could I share with you L’s brilliant commentary on why some white men are fearful of James Bond being played by Idris Elba, the most gorgeous black man on the planet.
After the lively conversation at brunch, I knew that my new year’s resolution would be to spend more time cultivating friendships with bright men and women who embrace the unpredictability and oft conflicted nature of my feminist ideals. They understood that I would fight tooth and nail for equality and then expect whatever man I was with to physically protect me. That I would fight against objectification, but expect a man to objectify me upon my invitation.
They got that I would spend the whole brunch arguing that men can be raped, but would spend more time fighting sexual violence against women. That I would fight for the right for women to speak, but stay silent in the pews of my own church, head covered, following the Apostle Paul’s dictates. I would fight for sexual freedom while holding on to my virginity.
And it doesn’t necessarily make me a ‘bad feminist’, but it does make me…complicated.
Not everybody gets it, but they did. So after hours of conversation about equality, I was happy and thankful when L’s boyfriend picked up the check.
p.s. i’m thanking Roxanne Gay for the concept of a ‘bad feminist’. it’s on the top of my reading list!