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Confessions Of A Bad Feminist

2010 March 29


Even Good Feminists Can Enjoy These Things, Right?

Katy graduated from Bard College in 2009, where she majored in Literature and the fine art of bullshitting. Katy is employed as a blogger at Jezebel.com, where she writes about lady-issues, and a blogger/editorial assistant at LiteraryTraveler.com, where she deals with literary-issues. She currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

On multiple occasions, I have drunkenly professed my hatred of the term “guilty pleasure.” This sweeping statement is usually followed by an explanation of how I love Nickleback and I shouldn’t have to feel bad about it! As absurd as that statement is – because Nickleback is horrible, and maybe I should feel bad about it – there is a certain level of truth in it. Why should we feel as though something, be it a band, a food, a dance move from the 1980s, or even a person (though this category is probably better termed Shame Lust), that we genuinely enjoy? I decided long ago that I may have bad taste, but it is my bad taste, goddamnit.

However, there is one subcategory of enjoyment that actually does cause me real guilt, and it has nothing to do with my serious obsession with slasher films. As a semi-professional feminist, I often find myself cringing when I realize just how counter my entertainment tendencies run to my politics. So, in the interest of complete and total internet honesty, I present you with: Feminist Guilty Pleasures.

The Bachelor

What is there to enjoy about watching a handsome, but unbelievably dull, pilot search through his own personal harem for the one special lady who will make his engines roar? A lot, actually. This season of The Bachelor was perhaps some of the best television I’ve watched in the past six months. Possibly even the past year. And since I watch a lot of TV, that means it was good. But this year had it all. There was hardcore slut-shaming early in the season, when it was discovered that the Scarlett Johansson look-a-like had been romancing a producer – perhaps even entertaining him in her boudoir. She was expelled from the house and given a hearty dose of finger waggling as a parting gift. And yet, I still love watching the mascara tears and “romantic” dates with multiple, continually squabbling, women. To make matters worse, I don’t even like The Bachelorette, which is because it lacks that essential cat-fight element. I suppose this makes me a bad feminist, but as we learned when Jake chose Vienna, the heart wants what it wants, no matter how absurd.

Coffee And Cigarettes

These aren’t actually in themselves feminist guilty pleasures, but I have, at times, consumed large amounts of both in order to suppress my appetite. This violates a cardinal rule of My Feminism (that is: eat what you want, when you want, and dudes can suck it if you don’t look perfect in that freakishly tight American Apparel u-neck dress you bought on a whim), but no matter how hard I try, I can’t entirely throw off the desire to slim my frame into tiny, child-like proportions, which could very well be my greatest feminist shame. But I am working on it. At least, that is my excuse for just downing an entire bag of Cheetos – I like to think of it as eating for the cause.

Cosmopolitan

Cosmo and I have quite the love-hate relationship. Everything about this magazine is pure ridiculousness, but yet I can’t wait to find out what new, entirely impossible sex position I should try (the can opener! the dances-with-wolves!) or what I should eat to make my butt look better (the answer is always grilled chicken with salad). Like many things on this list, Cosmo is fluff. Damaging, dangerous fluff made from the navel-lint of the patriarchy, but fluff nonetheless.

My Brand New Padded Bra

I hate the emphasis placed on boobs – and the whole bigger-the-better attitude. But I love the way this floral thing looks. And now that I just announced my recent purchase to the entire population of The Interwebs, I can’t be accused of false advertising. So, actually, I’m feeling pretty okay about this one.

Rosemary’s Baby

I believe Roman Polanski is a rapist and should rot in jail – American jail, that is, not some cushy European prison where they serve fresh brie and cocoa. Unfortunately, he is an immensely talented rapist. This does not mean, like much of Hollywood seems to think, that he should be given a free pass on drugging and anally raping a 13-year-old, but it does mean I can’t stop loving Rosemary’s Baby simply because I hate the director. There is an important debate to be had here whether one can divorce the art from the artist (I vote yes), but I have neither the time nor the space to start that shit. Suffice it to say that I think Rosemary’s Baby is one of the best films ever made, and I absolutely adore Mia Farrow’s hair cut.

Mainstream Rap Music

This one requires little explanation. Rap and hip-hop are so rife with misogyny, they deserve their own post. But despite my feminist leanings, “Blame it on the Alcohol” and “Bitches Ain’t Shit” are still among the top played songs on my iTunes gym-list. And while I may not be ashamed about loving “This Is How You Remind Me,” I do feel bad that I know all the words to “Laffy Taffy.”

While there are certainly many more, this should give you a sampling of the shame that lurks in the heart of feminists everywhere. The more I write, though, the more I become convinced that there is actually no such thing as a Bad Feminist. Anyone fighting the good fight – even in a padded bra and pounds of makeup – is on the right team. In the immortal words of Charlotte from Sex and the City, “I chose my choice.” And isn’t that what it’s all about?

4 Responses
  1. Patrick Casey permalink
    March 31, 2010

    Total agreement about” Rosemary’s Baby”
    More so “Repulsion”
    Separation of Art from Artist, essential, unfortunately

    • March 31, 2010

      I just wish it had been made by a more stand-up individual.

      More difficult, I think, is separating Art from Artist when the artist is an actor. Can you enjoy watching someone play a role when, IRL, they are a horrible human being? This question has been bugging me now that the whole Sanda Bullock-Nazi-Husband story broke (not that she is a horrible human being, just that she may be tolerant of white supremacist view points, which makes her a questionable figure).

      • March 31, 2010

        Word. More difficult still is when the artist’s personal demons have not only revealed gross character flaws and ethical deficiencies, but also compromised the integrity of the art — both theirs other people’s (see: Kazan, Elia, whose grand-daughter, Zoe, makes the case for separating art and artist very unconvincingly here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6fk2PJbkhQ).

  2. akiebermiss permalink
    April 1, 2010

    i have never read such a spot-on description of Cosmo. “fluff made from the naval-lint of the patriarchy.” i am delivered.

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