Jessa Crispin is a feminist who has written a book that has provoked a good deal of criticism, or is bound to.
Its title, "Why I'm Not A Feminist" is meant to provoke people, those who identify as feminist and those who do not. In it, she criticizes all of 21st century feminism, which she calls "bland, shallow and lazy."
I know the words she uses are a lot to take in, especially if you're someone who has shown up in the cold, traveled on buses to DC to march for women, thrown fundraisers to support Planned Parenthood or donated your own money (even though you make less than men) to fund your own rights when the government refuses to do so.
But there are a few reasons why listening to Crispin is not only valuable, but useful to feminists and non-feminists alike.
First, by listening to women without writing off what they have to say, you are demanding more from yourself and from feminism as a movement.
Any woman who has identified herself as feminist her entire life, as Crispin has, is undoubtedly dealing with some level of anger at watching her morals and her long-held beliefs turn into a marketing campaign.
Crispin admits that while her book offers more questions than answers, it's an effort to express what she believes about this new wave of feminism.
So what is this new wave of feminism? Crispin tells The Guardian,
[It's] a t-shirt you can wear in order to cloak your bad behavior, to let you think of yourself as some kind of political hero or rebel without you actually having to do anything. It's about individualism, and self-achievement. It's about pop stars and television and narcissism. It's not about subsidized childcare, or institutional and structural social change. It's meaningless.
To call feminism today "meaningless" is so harsh, it makes what Crispin is actually saying a little difficult to hear. But if you're able to put a hold on your arguments, you might see there is at least some truth to it.
There is a lot of division in this country, as if everyone is dying for an instruction manual on the "right way" to be a feminist, an activist, an ally.
We scream, "listen to women," but when one says they're "not a feminist," we shame them or write them off with outrage. Political change takes more than just taking part in the fun stuff.
It takes more than choosing a side, buying a t-shirt and showing up for a march. It involves listening to others we don't agree with, seeing things from their perspective, working out the kinks.
For instance, she sees the Women's March as problematic, considering there have been multiple elections in the US since where the female turnout was 15 to 20 percent.
She claims that the celebratory nature of them is a symptom of an ongoing problem for the left wing, which is a lack of focus.
In her book, Crispin seems to be struggling with the same questions that deep down, we all do: Am I doing enough? Is there more that I can do?
To her, the answer is yes, and although it seems that she has more questions than answers, the questions themselves are valuable, as we all begin to live our way into the answers.
Asking the question of whether or not feminism as a movement is DOING enough is well worth asking, and I for one am glad that Crispin is offensive enough to get our attention.