old woman, i hold in my hands a bird. tell me whether it is living or dead.
she doesn’t answer, and the question is repeated.
is the bird i am holding living or dead?
she still doesn’t answer. she’s blind. she can’t see. she doesn’t know their color, their gender, or their homeland. she only knows their motive. the old woman’s silence is so long the young people have trouble holding their laughter. finally she speaks and her voice is soft but stern: i don’t know, she says, i don’t know whether the bird you’re holding is dead or alive but what i do know is that it is in your hands. it is in your hands. her answer can be taken to mean if it’s dead, you have either found it that way or you have killed it. if it is alive, you can still kill it. whether it is to stay alive it is your decision. whatever the case, it’s your responsibility. for parading their power, and her helplessness, the young visitors are reprimanded, told they are responsible, not only for the act of mockery, but also for the small bundle of life sacrificed to achieve its aims. the blind woman shifts attention away from assertions of power to the instrument through which that power is exercised. speculation on what, other than its own frail body, that bird in the hand might signify, has always been attractive to me.
bigoted feminism is feminism but it’s an extremely skewed and awful version of feminism that needs to be called out and critiqued and altered. there are huge problems within the feminist movement such as racism and transphobia and transmisogyny that need to be addressed, and writing off these sort of things as “not real feminism” ignores these issues and writes off the experiences of the affected people as unimportant
why i always feel hesitant to identify myself with such a huge movement, but why i feel more hesitant to write it off as entirely prejudiced. there is always space for critique—there’s no “all good” or “all bad.” the complexity that goes beyond other people’s value judgments is difficult and frustrating. anyone can call themselves a feminist and act in any way they see fit. there are feminisms i agree with and for which i am grateful. there are non-inclusive feminisms that reproduce systems and standards that are harmful to people. there are empty, “girls rock, wear red lipstick” feminisms. those are the ones that i don’t feel a particular urge to promote.
i think if you’re going to become an advocate or ally for a social movement, this has to reflect in your actions. i think if someone chooses to identify as a feminist or an anti-feminist or neither, there’s a necessity to eventually complicate that identity and shift the focus from self-image toaction. there’s a necessity to ask the more difficult questions of embodying beliefs instead of preaching them, right now and in the future.
why does this identity matter to me, and why does it matter to other people? how can i embody ideologies to work with other people for collective goals? what does that look like? where do i feel my skills are needed? what can i learn, and what can i contribute?