Roxane Gay did an excellent job encapsulating the essence of being a woman and being a feminist. She explains her privilege, raised in a warm and loving family and having opportunities to obtain higher education. She breaks down the concept of privilege, telling us not to be ashamed or apologetic for ours, but to understand the extent and consequences of it – and that we should always use our privilege for the greater good.
The book gave me a lot of insight, not just about gender equality but also how to respect our body. There are many different ways of body shaming, when the beauty standard dictates us what is beautiful and what isn’t. It leaves us feeling insecure, of being too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too ugly, the list goes on. Why would we do this and torture ourselves?
On happiness and contentment, Gay writes: “We struggle to make happiness, contentment, and satisfaction interesting. Perfection often lacks texture. Fairy tales have happy endings. There are often lessons to be learned and sometimes those lessons are learned the hard way, but in the end, there is happiness. I enjoy fairy tales because I need to believe, despite my cynicism, that there is happy ending for everyone, especially me.”
Somehow this made me think of what my dad always says: “Life has to be happiness-oriented,” not money- or material-oriented. He wants me to be wise. He wants me to understand life better. And this has always made me question: is it realistic to always wish for happiness? We could never be happy all the time, right? And is happiness, in fact, overrated?
It is the personal touches like this that I can relate to that make me like this book. The thing about living in a loving family and also the struggle of making friends. All the daily struggle of being human that we have to embrace.
“I am not sure that feminism has ever suggested women can have it all. This notion of being able to have it all is always misattributed to feminism, when, really, it’s human nature to want it all – to have the cake and eat it too, without necessarily focusing on how we can get there and how we can make ‘having it all’ possible for a wider range of people and not just the lucky ones.”
She concludes everything by saying, “To freely accept the feminist label would not be fair to good feminists. If I am, indeed, a feminist, I am a rather bad one.”
A lot of the perceptions on feminism are “warped” by being a woman, she claims, asserting: “I want to be independent, but I want to be taken care of and have someone to come home to. Despite what people think based on my opinion writing, I very much like men. They’re interesting to me and mostly wish they would be better about how they treat women so I wouldn’t have to call them out so often.”
To be a feminist, is always a choice. A free choice. Whether or not to be one.
I am always thankful for being born as a woman. However many times I get reincarnated to this world, if I had the option to choose I would always choose to be a woman. It is such a privilege to live in a body that I love, the identity that I embrace. And I would never take it for granted.
“No matter what issues I have with feminism, I am a feminist. I cannot and will not deny the importance and absolute necessity of feminism. Like most people, I’m full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like shit for being a woman.”
Being a woman and being a man has to be equally the same. Both genders should feel safe wherever they are. It is okay for both to want careers and kids. It is okay to share the responsibilities of being a caregiver as well as leader. It is okay to cry. It is okay to have the needs to love and to be loved.
Hence declares Gay: “I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”
Adella Anna Pratiwi is actively working in Jakarta. She is interested in human rights issues especially gender studueis and feminism. She likes reading books outdoor and in her spare time she plays ukulele.