Nothing Is Feminist And So Can You
I see people ask if a game or anime or movie or song is ‘Feminist’.
I’m going to be a bit blunt so that there can be no misunderstanding: This question is a fucking waste of time. Don’t ask it. Don’t answer it. Don’t devote even a single second of your life to whether a thing you like or hate or don’t know about is ‘Feminist’, cuz it doesn’t mean a goddamn thing.
You are trying to decide if it qualifies as Capital F Feminist, as tho there is some single idea. There isn’t. Do you mean the Feminism of Cathy Brennan, who hates trans women and tries to drive them to suicide? Do you mean the mainstream Feminism of white women who only ever seem to doubt the Feminism of black women?
Oh wait you mean your own personal brand of Feminism which may be both or neither. Your feminism is Perfect and All-Encompassing, addressing all the world’s problems, unlike all those other Feminisms.
You shouldn’t ask if something is Feminist because the question is disingenuous. You’re asking if it fits your own personal philosophy and morals, which you have labeled Feminism.
By this definition, nothing can be Feminist because:
1. Nothing is perfect according to any standard except one based purely on that thing. (Probably not even then.)
2. There are so many Feminisms. It may be Feminist according to your Feminism, but that doesn’t mean it is according to mine, or someone else’s.
When you make discussion about whether or not something is Feminist, you waste time on a meaningless question that can never be agreed upon except amongst small groups of people with near-identical views.
Instead of this, you could be having meaningful conversations among people you might even disagree with about what it does well, what it does poorly, and how your interpretation reflects aspects of your own beliefs. This is a much more honest discussion.
(Disclaimer: There are meaningful discussions that could be had about the relationship between a particular piece of media and how it might, intentionally or not, reflect or conflict with a specific, particular brand of Feminism. This would be literary analyses, and can be done with philosophies other than feminism.
That said, I would think that to do this meaningfully you’d have to actually divorce the subject from your moral assessments of any brand of feminism. I believe whether a work has Good or Bad morals or message is a subject largely unattached to its relationship with any particular philosophy.)
On that subject, let’s also talk about the word empowering. There can be no such thing as a Capital E Empowering work because no matter how many people identify with that work or even feel empowered by it, there are bound to be those who do not feel empowered by it. They may even feel the opposite.
You’re welcome to try and convince a person they’re supposed to feel empowered by something, but I don’t think you’ll be very successful and it’ll take way more energy than anyone should waste on the subject.
Instead, talk about why it made you feel empowered. Respect that not everyone feels empowered by it, and treat their feeling as to why not seriously and valid, because generally speaking emotions deserve to be treated with some basic level of respect. Those who don’t feel empowered by something should do this as well, toward folks who do feel empowered.
Talk about the why. Talk about what you think it does well or poorly. Talk about why you have the emotional reaction you do to it. Respect the emotions of others.
It’s pretty easy, and it’ll save us a lot of time debating whether or not Bayonetta/Kill la Kill/Madoka Magica/etc is Feminist and Empowering.