I’m featuring another guest post for Friday’s The F-Word!
Sareeta is the blogger behind Flight & Scarlet, a blog of feminism, gender, and sexuality, with a touch of life’s humour and cuteness — kitty photos included! In her spare time, she likes watching Netflix, reading, going for walks, and playing with her new kitten. Sareeta loves meeting new people and helping others. If you would like to connect with her, leave a comment or find her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!
The last while, I’ve been really struggling with whether or not I should be enjoying games, movies and TV shows that are clearly not feminist. And from talking to my friends, it seems like I’m not the only one.
My first instinct is that it isn’t bad to enjoy things that have sexist elements to them. (Assuming you aren’t offended by it and that you actually can enjoy them).
But… how can you enjoy stuff that is clearly against your core beliefs?
After thinking about this a lot, I asked a few of my friends (and even those of you on Facebook) how to enjoy things that aren’t feminist.
I got some awesome answers — some involved things that I didn’t realize I was doing already, and others really taught me something.
Here are my favorite ways to enjoy movies and TV shows that aren’t feminist. (Thank you if you were one of the people who helped me out — you’ll see your ideas are part of this list!)
1. Be critical.
Being critical of what you see is one of the most important things about being a feminist.
When you watch a show that isn’t feminist, like The Bachelor, you might be buying into the sexism a little if don’t notice what’s happening. But if you do sit back and acknowledge how pitting women against each other just encourages women to compete with each other, and that it portrays women’s success as entirely their relationship status, then the show is actually making you think.
That’s right. Watching The Bachelor could actually make you think!
And that’s why it isn’t anti-feminist to enjoy the show.
Because you are thinking critically, and you aren’t being suckered into the messages it might send, instead it could be a reminder for you of the stereotypes and double standards feminism is trying to fight.
2. Understand the background story.
Lots of superhero movies and spy movies originated in a time when women didn’t have nearly as much recognition as they do now.
It’s hard to expect everything to be different when it’s been ingrained in our culture for so long. And when films and series are made to reflect an original story, it’s going to be hard to justify changing it so quickly. While some historical movies challenge the values of their time, many simply reflect the periods of time when women had no rights whatsoever.
And I am definitely a huge superhero fan, even though it is disappointing that female superheroes are still few and far between, at least on the big screen. It takes time to improve. But with “queer-inclusive” series like Jessica Jones and characters like Scarlet Witch in Avengers, I think things are moving in the right direction.
3. Use it as a learning opportunity to strengthen your beliefs and understand others’ beliefs.
If you’re watching a sexist movie or something else that has sexist undertones, analyze the crap out of it.
Look at the humor and ask why it’s funny, from the perspective of those who would not be offended by it. Break down what’s happening, and you might actually learn more about feminism!
Yes, you are looking at material that directly conflicts with what you believe. But when you see other points of view, it can strengthen your own. You can defend your own stance better when you can find the flaws in the others’, and if you can understand the others’ perspective, you’ll be able to approach them in a better way as well. It’s always helpful to know the opposition.
4. Most importantly, remember this: it’s not possible to be the “perfect feminist” like the Internet might make you think.
You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone.
Feminism is about thinking critically and the belief that sexism needs to stop because the genders should all be equal. It’s about improving our society by learning as much as we can and encouraging others to do the same.
And you will never learn if you never challenge your beliefs.
Think about it as if you never, ever left your house. You never visit people — they visit you, and they’re only family and friends that you know. You read books you like, watch movies you like and listen only to music you like. You cook the same meals every week, and you always go to bed at the same time. You never venture outside.
It doesn’t sound so bad — who doesn’t want a week where you can just do what you like?
But never leaving your safe space means you don’t ever get to experience everything else there is out there.
Approaching material that goes against your values helps you get out of your comfort zone, and that can help you understand why you believe what you believe. It can strengthen your beliefs, or it might show you another way of looking at things which might change your beliefs. Or it could show you something new that does strengthen your beliefs — that’s the beautiful thing: you’ll always learn something.
So yes, it’s okay to enjoy material that is clearly un-feminist, or even slightly un-feminist.
Just be open, think about what you watch and see, and keep on believing in equality.
Know that it is helping you grow.
If you’re doing those things, you’re one hell of a feminist, my friend.
What’s one un-feminist thing that you like? How do you enjoy it? Let me know in a comment below!
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