"Feminist women may be better equipped to combat gender programming, but we are by no means immune to the impulse to take care of everyone else's needs before our own."
by Shannon Drury
I love feminism, but it doesn't always love me.
In fact, the very movement that has given me so much (from the right to vote to the Women's National Basketball Association) has also provided me with more than my fair share of headaches and anxiety attacks.
Feminism by definition requires an awareness of systemic injustice, which is not a great feeling. It is exhausting to have a constantly functioning injustice detector, even when one is in Target Center, rooting for a professional women's team that didn't exist a generation ago. Unfortunately, star forward Maya Moore's flawless jump shot will be ignored by the Twin Cities media if Viking Adrian Peterson so much as bruises his pinky while mowing his lawn.
(On second thought, that would never happen-Peterson makes too much money as a pro athlete to do his own yard work. Olympic gold medalist and world champion Moore probably has to yank her own dandelions.)
See what I mean? No wonder feminists have a reputation for being surly and unpleasant! It doesn't help that I can't surf to Facebook without seeing some new knucklehead in power claiming to be an expert on "legitimate rape," among other things.
It is now my pleasure (hell, my obligation-see tip No. 3) to provide you with the essentials to feminist survival in the 21st century:
1. Humor. At the end of an exhausting day, I usually turn to my husband and say, "Let's watch something really stupid on TV." People tell me that I should be watching intelligent, complex dramas like "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Men," but I prefer Snooki's unabashed lunacy any day. Even better is the over-the-top theatrics of the queens on "RuPaul's Drag Race," the greatest show on television. I'd advise you to stream it right now at Logo TV online if my next tip weren't for you to find....
2. Quiet. Last fall I took a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course. While I wish I could say I kept up my meditation practice regularly (hit or miss is more like it), the class opened my eyes to the sheer volume of garbage I was consuming in the name of "information." As my Internet speed improves, the cacophony amplifies and multiplies, until it threatens to drown everything else in my head. I'm learning that I can write an angry blog post about Todd Akin tomorrow. Today, however, I can turn the computer off.
3. Honesty. Feminist women may be better equipped to combat gender programming, but we are by no means immune to the impulse to take care of everyone else's needs before our own. Burnout is painful but entirely preventable if we have the courage to make our frustrations known.
4. Therapy. I don't mean retail therapy, chocolate therapy or wine therapy-I mean old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness, talk therapy with a licensed mental health professional. A quick glance at this magazine's classified advertising section or online Directory will reveal numerous feminist therapists who offer sliding scale fees, so do not let that fear deter you. I think everyone, feminist or not, deserves a good therapist upon whom to unload, a person who is not obligated to agree that everything is your boss', spouse's, or mother's fault. A great therapist is someone who challenges you to learn more about yourself as you untangle the knots in your heart and mind-and feminists are quite knotty people (if you don't believe me, see tip No. 1).
A quick Tweet about this column's topic generated many other suggestions, including but not limited to: patience, stubbornness, Aretha Franklin albums, a properly fitted bra. I'm out of space, but not ideas-the feminist survival kit, like feminism itself, is definitely a work in progress.
Shannon Drury is a self-described radical housewife. She lives in Minneapolis.