In Defense of ‘Assholes’ (Feminism)
People talking, glasses ring, and chairs pushed about
in a small, dark, and dimly lit room.
I can hear the host, a famous comedian, introduce me
while she asks the audience my ‘dangerous’ question:
‘Are Women Assholes?’
The room goes quiet, and I make my way to the stage…
I nervously introduce myself and clarify my ‘dangerous’ question.
I wanna know, “Are Women Assholes… to each other?”
Again, the room is silent… but this time still, as well.
I call out the discomfort in the room.
I acknowledge it. Every. Time.
And feel the same.
I put a name to the problem: intragender sexism.
And then for the next 10 minutes, I state my case:
I’m aware patriarchy has created the conditions of sexism.
I understand why women are misogynistic and sexist toward each other.
(Hell, I’ve been guilty of it, too. And fully acknowledge that to the crowd.)
But I insist that why we commit offenses against each other
may reveal the answers to our imagined future cooperation
…and the liberation we claim to so desperately want.
For the last several years
I’ve presented this lecture—controversial and uncomfortable
Across festivals, venues, stages, and classrooms.
And each time, the same response: still silence.
These last few years, I’ve learned to embrace this.
To use this tension—created by the very question asked
For a conversation, many women are unwilling to have
And like a bad feminist, I throw into the room
Like the bomb it is—and demand we pay attention.
Do you know how many women have reached out to me
to discuss these ideas (always privately)? Tons.
Do you know how many “feminists” have reached out to me
to discuss these ideas—in any capacity? None.
Because ‘feminism’ is now about appearing supportive—
in order to be accepted
It is about being liked rather than being right.
It has morphed from a gritty, unpopular, political stance
into a buzzword for ‘equality’ and ‘equity’
—lacking the interrogation and demands it once cultivated.
In short—it has become performative.
As a ‘good’ feminist, I call out sexism:
men’s oppression of women.
But as a ‘bad’ feminist,
I simply cannot ignore women’s participation
in their own subjugation—or mine.
When did being a ‘bad’ feminist become a problem?
Hell, ‘Feminism’ is about being bad.
It is a political statement—as much as a personal.
It’s anti-status quo at its heart—it beats because of its resistance.
If ‘feminism’ to you is about being liked,
then you’re doing it wrong.
It’s about demanding your gender equality—
especially from your own backyard (comrades)
Because both of you—them and you—need it.
And if you can’t rely on each other,
then who the hell is there?
As a woman, I’ve been called many things,
‘slut,’ ‘bitch,’ ‘whore,’ ‘cunt’…
But as a feminist, the deafening silence of other “feminists”
have been the toughest blow
And that’s the silence in the room—I just can’t stand.
So in defense of feminism… I continue my outspoken piece.
And as I leave the stage to applause and praise
I can’t help but notice the irony of the drama.
Here I am performing feminism that’s not remotely performative
On behalf of a crowd concerned with appearances.
This piece is based on the lecture Amy will deliver at the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, on the 26th of August 2021 at 17.00 BST. To watch her deliver it in person, register here. To watch online, click here.
Amy Andrada is a PhD Sociology candidate at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on deviance, family, and gender studies. She is currently writing up her mammoth of a PhD while simultaneously raising her precocious teenage son. (Wish her luck in both.) She may be reached at email@example.com.