Commentary | Confessions of a feminist killjoy

Why I don’t back down

Haven’t we beaten this horse to death? Is there really anything left for me to add to here? You know my opinion, right? You’ve got to know what I think by now. Wait…you don’t know what I’m talking about? Oh.

If you were a mechanic, it might seem strange that someone else doesn’t know how to do something as simple as change the oil in their car. If you were an astronaut, you might find it weird when you step out of your spaceship to find that no one understands the terms that you use at work every day. Being a feminist is kind of like that.

When I step out of an anti-oppressive space and find that the majority of people in the world don’t think about rape culture and the deep underlying problems in our patriarchal society at least once every day, that a lot of people don’t think about the hurt and pain that are caused by the oppressive structures built into our everyday life, it comes as a shock. Any space where I don’t have to explain the power relationship behind a man cat-calling a woman on the street feels safer than anywhere else in the world, and so I end up trying to spend as much of my life in those safe spaces in order to expose myself to as little oppressive bullshit as possible. Which seems reasonable to me – until I realize that most people don’t live in my anti-oppressive dream world, because not only do other people have anti-oppressive dream worlds that are different than my own, but most people don’t know what oppression is.

When I see a problem with the world that I’m living in, whether that means the world at large, a city, or a campus community, I want to try to fix it. Complacency isn’t satisfying. This complacency is thrown in the face of activists who are told that “we” have come so far already and “we” have achieved enough. An unwillingness to adhere to complacency is the reason why people still go to protests or write Commentary pieces in The Daily about rape culture at McGill Froshes. I am not saying this to be annoying or to spoil the fun of others, but to initiate change on a small scale in order to raise awareness among students who have never heard these arguments before or who need to hear them at least one more time.

I find it difficult to enter a social space and meet a new person without either identifying them as someone who already understands feminism and the fight against systems of oppression, or discovering that they don’t understand feminism and then talking about the patriarchy for an hour. Usually, I leave these conversations exhausted and angry, even when the person I’m speaking to is sympathetic. Is it my responsibility to explain and educate every person I meet who doesn’t understand? This is how I came to be a feminist killjoy.

Something is wrong with the world we live in and the way that we’re made to think of each other and this fucking oppressive civilization, and nobody talks about why or how to fix it in any kind of mainstream medium or political stage.  This is why I still talk about these things and argue constantly and get frustrated – because I can’t sit in the back seat and watch oppressive mainstream norms and fear of controversy dictate my life.  So next time you feel like someone is sucking all the fun out of something by bringing up that dirty, dirty word, feminism, take a fucking second to think about it.

Jaime MacLean and Isabella Mancini are Gender Studies students and members of the Valerie Solanas Makeout Club. You can reach them at jaime.l.maclean@gmail.com and isabella.ml.mancini@gmail.com.