Selling out

I am an environmentalist feminist. Also agnostic. I wish agnostic ended with “ist” instead but oh well.

I sell out sometimes. A lot.

As an environmentalist, I buy almost exclusively used clothing. I believe it is better for the environment. Also, I am really really thrifty and it feels better to say it is for the environment than to admit I am cheap—or worse yet, to admit that if I want to send my daughter to summer camp, I cannot afford the extravagance of brand new clothing.

But I can’t get myself to take a shower every OTHER day. Having lived in England, I know that a great many nice, clean people don’t take daily showers but I just can’t do it. I feel too yucky when I don’t take a daily shower. I tried. I tried to make myself used to it, for about 6 months. But I still felt disgusting, so I gave up and now shower daily. ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLl that water, washing my sweat off. Not even a lot of sweat, as I work inside, at a non physical job. All that water, wasted.

I am just not as good an environmentalist as I would like to be. But I keep working at it.

As a feminist, I sell out almost every day.

Sometimes I sell out because I don’t have any better ideas. When I worked for AT&T, they would pay for some college expenses. The bookkeepers told me that a certain expense was not covered, and I said it was. We went round and round on that until I had my husband call. As soon as his male voice, saying exactly what I had said, was heard, my expense was covered.

I wasn’t married at the time. I got a guy friend to make the phone call. I didn’t want it to end that way but I had had run out of ideas. I KNEW they would listen to a man saying exactly what I had said. When it turned out the way I thought it would, I didn’t feel at all good about it. I won that round, yes, but at the cost of getting a man to do my fighting for me.

Sometimes I sell out because of a bigger problem. My child wanted to be in a children’s troupe and I let her. Production week came out and one of the other moms bought a full “make up” kit for my child. It wasn’t stage makeup, it was street make up. And my child was ten. And no one asked my permission. And the house sat only 300, nobody needed make up anyway, except for character parts.

But I was outnumbered by moms who wanted their girls to look “pretty.” After the show was done, I wrote a letter to the board about the inappropriateness of making up all the girls with street make up when the boys got nothing, not even aging make up for the ones playing old men, and of course I got no answer.

Sometimes I sell out and don’t admit it at the time. Sometimes there is a smoke screen. The first time I got married, I changed my name. It was a horrible, horrible mistake. I told myself I wanted to have the same name as husband and wife, that his name was easier to spell, that I didn’t even like my last name, all of which was true, but the fact remains I helped the patriarchy by wiping out my own identification.

For the time we were married, every accomplishment I made was recorded under his family name, not mine. Any person looking for me had to know who I married in order to find me. Even when I was married, I knew it was a mistake—it was not getting un married that told me this.

 

If having the same name were the issue, we could have changed to my name. If spelling my name were the issue, we could have changed to a brand new name for us as a couple. I deluded myself.

Yet, if a friend changes her name–that’s her business. I will address the congratulatory card with the new name, and that is ok, because feminism means SHE gets to choose.

 

I sell out at work, all the time. Every week, at least. Someone asks for Twilight and I give it to her, even though it is practically a primer on how to be in an abusive, gender role relationship. (If the person asks what I THINK of Twilight, that is a different matter.)

I sometimes sell out by inaction. I had to watch a video at work about workplace violence and how it can be prevented. The whole video didn’t mention that men tend to be the killers and women tend to be the victims. And I just signed the damned thing that said I saw it, without bringing up how silly it was.  Really. A video on violence that doesn’t mention men are likely to be the perps is like a video on addiction that fails to mention alcohol.

About ten years ago I made a New Year’s resolution that I would not stand idly by when bigotry was happening, by which I meant, at the time, racial, LGBT or ablist bigotry. So I am often the one saying, at parties, “Eh, you know, that is not funny,” when someone makes a queer joke. A few years ago I expanded this to include gender jokes, so just IMAGINE how much fun I am now. When I overhear, “You are lucky you have a daughter; they are so much easier than sons, not as rough,” I don’t let it go.

 

Funny thing, though, how far behind feminism is from other isms and causes. Just yesterday I overheard someone making a “gay” joke, and the person listening said, “Well you forgot, I work with a gay guy and he is ok and I don’t like that joke,” and the joker apologized.

Can you imagine, after hearing a sexist joke, someone saying, “I know a lot of women and I don’t find that joke at all funny,” and the joker backing off???

I don’t shave my legs, because I think it is sexist, imperialist bullshit. (When I was a student in England, the other girls in my dorm were fascinated by my razor. They asked what it was for, and I said shaving my legs and armpits. Completely baffled, they asked why I would do that.  Why, indeed. I still shave my armpits because how else will the deodorant get to the source? But I think men should also shave their pits. PS American imperialism seems to have taken over the British fashion industry and the last time I was there, women seemed to have adopted the practice of leg shaving. Damn.)

I think I have a pretty nice, if abundant, figure and wear tight and low cut gowns whenever I can. Why do I even DO this?  How can I be a feminist and show off my figure? How can I not participate in leg shaving and make up and still enjoy wearing pretty dresses?

Well, until I can figure out the balance, I will continue my few steps forward, few steps back, on trying to be a good feminist. And environmentalist, too. And LGBT ally.

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