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Feminist Fatigue

Feminist fatigue, the kind of philosophical sleepiness that sweeps through me/you/everyone when there is too much to say no to and is something I have felt for years and years, in waves. Not nice warm ocean waves like in Florida but, like, 'The French...
Κείμενο Kate Carraway

Oooooh la la, you guys, it’s Nike Sky High City Pack “Tokyo” Dunks release month! I put it on my iCal. How are you? How is your heart? Can I hold your teacup face in my hands, just for a second, or a second too long? Let’s make this all about feelings, OK? Or mostly, anyway. I’m Pre-Monster-Screaming or whatever that’s called.


I mean, aaaaaahhhh. This girl! I like when she hops around in her sports bra in that movie I haven’t seen yet. Except, as my fashion-professional bestie pointed out, she was wearing an actual wedding dress to the Oscars which is, at first pass, “Whoah/gross” but one beat later is maaaaaybe who-gives-a-shit-ish and cool? I am still waiting for a Juliette Lewis/Bjork/Amanda de Cadenet-and-Courtney Love-in-1995 figure to arrive on the red carpet (now actually a more TV-appropriate, “carbohydrate, sequined-jumpsuit, young-girls-in-white-cotton-panties, waking-up-in-a-pool-of-your-own-vomit, bloated-purple-dead-on-a-toilet phase”-purple-red-carpet) with a fashion-commentary-stakes-defying dress and some baditude, but in the meantime, I’m down with this girl. OK, so this isn’t about feelings. (Also, that’s from Wayne’s World, of course.)



Turns out I was right about necks, at least according to my recent shoppings. See you soon, transition toward wide and densely fabricated necklines! This isn’t about feelings either.


This is, though. To square away an important through-line of current feminist discussion, which is a strawberry-sweet way of saying “internet dry-heaving”: feminist fatigue, the kind of philosophical sleepiness that sweeps through me/you/everyone when there is too much to say no to (covered by Lindy West at Jezebel and Jessica Valenti at the Nation and by other women in other places that I didn’t see/can’t care about because ZzzQuil) is something I feel, have felt, for years and years, in waves. Not nice warm ocean waves like in Florida but, like, The French Lieutenant’s Woman waves.

I want to reject its existence, boogie away from the idea that feminism is anything but obvious, natural, just hysterically intellectually easy and available. Try this: “Equal.” “Same.” “People.” EZ, right? I do want to experience Feminist Boredom—when femsplaining and fem… doing (?) become periodically recursive and repetitive, but in a nice vacationy way that is very much a part of working toward something—and Feminist Arrogance, which is fun and about just deciding that everyone who doesn’t know already is pretty stupid. Instead, what happens to people who are magnetized to the feminist discussion publicly or with our pals or in our work or wherever it’s all made explicit, is that the very same—the very very very very same—arguments and notions and ideas and tropes are turned over again and again in front of and between us, within days and over years and decades. The most progressive, interesting stuff of my brain-life is also, then, the most hideously annoying and Zzzzzz and bone-itching.


A really good example of this is any occasion of a not-explicitly-offensive joke or comment or comedy song on an international broadcast about actresses’ naked boobs having to be contextualized, again and again and again, as part of a culture of disparagement and diminishment, and then explaining that again and again and again a day later. Then it’s “Relax, baby” and then you do it again, and then you talk about how exhausted you are… again. I feel like I’ve been responding to “I’m not a feminist, but…” since 1994; I should probably just call it “INAF-B” like a problematic, faltering government program, that has a portfolio and officers assigned to it, who specialize in its particularities. (I don’t, and yet…)

Maybe even more tiring is being involved in the process of opposing parts of a dominant culture that you also really like and opt into. My friends and whoevers who are more generally against capitalism and normieness and the vanilla ice-creaminess of it all—I am definitely not among them—don’t seem to experience the same feminist fatigue, maybe because there is a lot less checking and rechecking and establishing and reestablishing of one’s self in relation to everything else. What I mean to do with my feminism now is what I still get to do sometimes: just know things, about the experience and meaning of being female, and get power and acuity and a warm ocean-wavey creative push from it. Instead, what I actually do with my feminism—maybe more and more?—is resent that I ever cared in the first place, and feel stunned and betrayed by it, or more specifically, by the implications of caring.


Caring about anything should be hard. It should be a metabolic, active, and difficult process, to care and to participate and to do love-work of it. This applies to an intellectual idea as much as a chill friendship, of course. (This is especially true for a lot of privileged feminists, who have to do the a priori/personal work of how you can live in a Fabergé life-castle and yet also be periodically TKO’d into an emotional and psychic gutter because you’re a girl, and what you’re supposed to do with the heavy and contradictory info-and-feelings-piles you’re holding in each hand.) But, caring for something else always makes an equal/opposite demand, which is why feminists of the yelly variety were more up on “self-care” stuff before everyone else. (If your whole deal is making coffee-art Pinterests you probably don’t need to self-care very much?) None of it, though, not self-care or understanding why it gets so tiring or knowing that other people are tired, too, makes it any better. In summation: buh.


Are you guys watching Bunheads??? Email me.

Previously - The Relative Transgressions of Girls

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway