Here’s why we need feminism, not just everyone-ism: One of the authors of this piece is much more likely to be paid significantly less for doing the same work as the other. One of us is much more likely to receive specific, gendered online harassment for writing the same words. One of us is much more likely to be the victim of violence—85 percent of domestic violence victims in the U.S. are women, and that violence is usually inflicted by men. Globally, women remain hugely underrepresented in positions of power and influence—just 7 out of 150 elected Heads of State in the world are women, and on average only 17 percent of parliamentary seats are held by women. And these statistics are an incomplete introduction to the problem: a woman’s race, gender expression, and sexual orientation can put her at even greater risk of discrimination and violence.
That’s our current reality. That’s why feminism, despite the movement’s imperfections, is still so important. It’s not just appropriate to acknowledge that these gendered inequities are less frequently experienced by men and more frequently perpetuated by them—it’s essential to recognize that the playing field isn’t level. Of course, that recognition doesn’t preclude men from becoming valuable allies in the fight against sexism. But it does require men to recognize that they are privileged by virtue of their perceived gender identity."
When women are unlikable, it becomes a point of obsession in critical conversations by professional and amateur critics alike. Why are these women daring to flaunt convention? Why aren’t they making themselves likable (and therefore acceptable) to polite society? In a Publishers Weekly interview with Claire Messud about her novel The Woman Upstairs, which features a rather ‘unlikable’ protagonist, Nora, who is better, bereft, and downright angry about what her life has become, the interviewer said, ‘I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.’ And there we have it. A reader was here to make friends with the characters in a book and she didn’t like what she found.
Messud, for her part, had a sharp response to her interviewer.
For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscao Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t ‘Is this a potential friend for me?’ but ‘Is this character alive?’
Perhaps, then, unlikable characters, the ones who are the most human, are also the ones who are the most alive. Perhaps this intimacy makes us uncomfortable because we don’t dare be so alive."
— Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist (via brutereason)