The best feminism in life is free.
Long-time host, provocateur, academic, and glorious shit-kicker Anita Sarkeesian is back on the digital airwaves.
Founder of the non-profit Feminist Frequency, Anita first became a household name with her much-beloved/maligned Tropes Vs. Video Games series where she took aim at the sanctioned misogyny and sexualized violence that runs rampant—rampant like a Mario-less Yoshi right off a goddamn cliff—in video games. All of which, of course, landed her in the hot heart of GamerGate, the “proxy war” for pesky socio-cultural mores like gender and race equality.
This is all to say, we need voices—angry, articulate, unrelenting voices—like Anita’s in the feminist fray. Her new show asks, “What do representations of race, gender and sexuality in pop culture have to do with our current social and political climate?”
QUITE A LOT.
Anita’s newest episode, “Feminism For Sale in Aisle 4!” takes on the commodification of the movement. Anita argues that with every tote, mug, and #GirlsCan campaign, the movement itself is being stripped of its meaning — rendering it sexy, sure, but also pallid and ineffectual. Dangerous even. Because while you’re busy being the “Girl- Boss” in powder-puff pink, marginalized people of every size, shape, and creed are being threatened and killed.
“If feminism is a vague, fun, upbeat idea everyone will want to buy it!” she says. Because what’s less sexy than actual beliefs you’re willing to make people uncomfortable for? While it’s all well and good to don a, “If It Ain’t Woke Don’t Fuck It,” t-shirt (GET IT?!) the movement demands far more than an oh-so-pithy message emblazoned on your chest. (See: wearing safety pins in solidarity as an ally in lieu of actually doing anything to dismantle white supremacy.)
I would argue it’s a kind of soma—a seemingly benign ubiquitous drug—Aldous Huxley described in Brave New World; if everyone is distracted by what message they want to be promoting on their totes, T’s, and tea mugs— “Just how angry do I want to seem?” she muttered to herself, fingering the teal tank top at Gap—we lose sight of the fight at hand, and that’s exactly what capitalism wants.
Questioning the system doesn’t fuel the system—so said system will never actually provide you with the tools to dismantle it.
So be wary of Dove telling you “flawed is flawless,” because the actual work of feminism “has requirements and feminism has limits,” Anita reminds us.
I.e., “You can’t be a feminist if you’re serving in a press administration that rescinds rights for trans people and enacts racist immigration policies.” (Cough, Ivanka, cough cough, “Women Who Work,” splutter, groan.)
Get thee an earful of Anita’s new pop culture eviscerations—because they’re funny and smart and lord knows we need that—and then go out and do the work.
Because to be a feminist you’ve got to fight.