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Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to The Shabby Suitcase - a blog documenting the creative outlets and general wanderings of a nomadic twenty-something. 


The latest adventure.


Internet Feminism

Marissa Conway


the look: top by Zara, jeans, boots, and sunnies by Topshop


Alright babes, this is a long one, so grab a cup of tea and cozy up:

Feminism doesn't get it right all the time.  In fact, feminism doesn't get it right a lot of the time.  My current affair with feminist academia is mostly spent critiquing failings of the movement, the shortcomings of women who are trying so desperately to negotiate some autonomy for their lives, but falling short.  Every.  Time.  Be it the oppressive fabric that covertly weaves itself through society, or the people who recklessly cling to fading power - I often find myself feeling like feminism has been set up to fail.  And you know what?  A lot of this comes from within the feminist movement itself.  

It's like shopping at Whole Foods when I'm hungry.  I want it all.  I want the Mexican wedding cookies that will give me a stomach ache, because I will eat them all during the walk home from the market.  I want the 'limited time only' curry flavored cashews, the ones they leave out samples for, knowing fools like me just can't resist buying a bag after tasting it.  I want the coconut water that I hate but feel like I should buy anyways, because I'm from California after all.  But fortunately for my budget and unfortunately for my taste buds, I can't have it all. 

A tangential and nonsensical metaphor - mostly because once I started thinking about all the yummy things at Whole Foods, I couldn't really stop - but let's boil it down to this:  Feminism can't have its cake and eat it too.  It just can't.  

Before you start mentally berating me for my pessimism, indulge this train of thought just a bit longer.  Feminism is an ideology that informs my personal belief system and heavily influences my actions and thoughts - like religion, if you will.  As long as it's used in this manner, as a catalytic source of inspiration, I think its impact remains fruitful.  When it becomes a vessel for uninformed policing, a tool for personal agenda promotion, or simply a mechanism for complaining, influence and authority is lost.  But let's remove this from the theoretical and ground it in the real: that of the reckless Internet Feminism, a term I've kidnapped from one of my friends (thanks Abeera!) because it's so fitting.  It could be argued that the advent of social media pumped new and fierce fuel into the veins of feminism - but it also allowed for the rise of the internet feminists, who would indignantly shame their way to the top of the nonexistent gender equality totem pole.  

Case in point: This morning I read an article posted on Miss Representation's Facebook page criticizing Ryan Seacrest for not asking women on the red carpet questions about fashion.  This was in reference to the #AskHerMore campaign, which explicitly evolved as a reaction to the fashion and appearance-driven questions that women fielded at awards shows.  My yet-to-be-caffeinated brain had to take a minute to fully absorb what was written.  After years of buildup for the #AskHerMore campaign, it's laughable that when we are finally close to guiding red carpet questions away from appearance, a subgroup of internet feminists get upset about it.  In a world where nothing is absolutely perfect, and feminism seems to always just fall short of what we really need, all the little milestones need to be celebrated.  The reality remains that drastic change simply won't happen overnight - it's the small steps toward equality that have historically built the foundation of this cause.  Truly, look how far we've come.  And this isn't to say we must ignore where we have to go - there is so much left.  But perhaps before invoking feminism as grounds for complaining, let's ask ourselves: does this bother just me, or does this harm the feminist project?  Either way, shout your lungs bloody, because women have been silenced for too long.  But it's time to stop using feminism to justify nonconstructive complaining.