Your feminism is not a game, it should not be sport for others either. But what has been going down lately in Australian media and social media suggests otherwise. As a feminist, I think you have a duty to be open to criticism, but that willingness to participate in self-reflection should not be exploited for kicks. Feminism requires critical review in order to maintain integrity but there’s something else important in this equation. The critical review must also come from a place of integrity.
So, this very nurturing and insightful piece, “What armchair commentators say about your feminism doesn’t matter” from Karen Pickering in The Guardian is important reading for Australian feminism and its detractors right now:
The good news is it actually doesn’t matter what armchair commentators say about your feminism. It’s up to you to learn, listen, say sorry when you get it wrong, and grow into your values. You don’t have to engage when a critic’s signature strategy is abuse. It’s thinly veiled insecurity that drives this tactic. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your deepest held beliefs and how you live them, unless you want to offer it.
Your feminism needn’t be immune to new ideas that will challenge and strengthen it. But crucially, it’s yours. It’s yours to work on and work through and it takes energy and thought every day. It may thrive if you harness your energies alongside other likeminded people and organise collectively, but it will still be valuable if you perform it by having mind-changing conversations at your kitchen table, back fence, church or union meeting.
The critical mass of feminist thinking is built day by day, conversation by conversation, and this is what will eventually transform gender roles. The hard work of feminism is being done by ordinary people who are changing the minds of their family members, students or colleagues with reasoned explanations, sincere engagement and respect.