‘Tis the season… for being a killjoy // Samantha D. Christopher

‘Tis the season for… denying all of the work I need to do and binging on TV and ‘fun books.’  However, with this break from school (and subsequent ‘ignoring of the work in question’) comes a choice for feminists – where is the line for enacting and advocating for our feminist sensibilities? 

What line? Well, popular culture kind of sucks sometimes. I have a giant list of shows I want to watch on Netflix – and I always watch shows with a critical lens. It can be exhausting.  If you haven’t seen this article about a woman taking a break from being a feminist so she can actually enjoy a TV show, you should check it out. 

And not just popular culture, but often in my personal life I’ve found myself try to “pick my battles,” so to speak.  I’ve found that it can be incredibly difficult to put feminist sensibilities to the side to just enjoy stuff and also to not be a feminist killjoy.  My mentor has told me time and time again that “being a feminist is living in discomfort” and damn, she’s right.  Feminist sensibilities bring our awareness to not just the obvious issues of sexism, racism, heterosexism (and other -isms), but feminism also brings our awareness to the nuances of these -isms.  The very discrete.  The seemingly “unnoticeable to the naked eye” kind of issues that surround us in our lives. 

One of my favorites… “freshman.” Being on a university campus we hear the word “freshman” everywhere.  We could choose to use gender-neutral terms like “first-year.” However, if we address how subtleties of language shape our lived experience of the world – we’re killjoys.  Don’t believe me?  Check out any comment related to Elon University officially making the switch to using First-Year instead of Freshman. 

Or people referring to college women as “girls.”  When I’ve addressed this I know I’ve got a “oh come on, quit being so serious” – even though calling someone a girl is defined as sexual harassment.

For many feminists (and everyone advocating for social justice), we’re addressing a lot of the big stuff. We can rally to confront shit like this (even though there were still some people who were using the “boys will be boys” justification) and the feminists who have continued to support and engage in #BlackLivesMatter.  It’s the seemingly “small things” that I think we have that choice – do we say something and risk the pushback? Or do we let it go, even if it hurts?

OR… and I think this is the case… there is a blurry gray area that all of this takes place.  Certain people, certain situations, certain times should all be taken into consideration before pursuing these little things.  So I’m curious…

What are your nuances and where is the line for you to say something?

Written by Samantha D. Christopher

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