Guest Post: My Own Feminist Killjoy

I’m glad to announce this will be Callie’s final guest post for us because she’s not gonna be a guest anymore! She’s joining the Damn Pants crew – we’re showing her the secret handshake and everything.

So, have you heard of this thing called ‘a feminist killjoy’? I have been hearing it a lot lately. Hell, I have even being saying it. “That’s right babe, I’m being a feminist killjoy.”

What? What is that?

In case you, like me up until a couple weeks ago, have not heard of this phrase, a feminist killjoy is someone who will notice and call attention to instances of sexism, racism, privilege, what-have-you, in a given conversation, particularly when everyone else is having a grand old time. I picture some girl with thick glasses, crazy hair and bright red lipstick repeating “killjoy, killjoy, killjoy,” over and over again while smoking a cigarette. I know, it makes no sense; Just like the phrase, ‘feminist killjoy.’

I have kind of a problem with this phrase, though, because killjoy implies that … it’s kinda wrong to point out instances of sexism, racism, homophobia … etc… It makes it seem like being worried about those things makes you kind of an uptight arse. It makes it seem like we are inadvertently supporting the idea that there are times when that kind of stuff is ok, you know?

This morning I woke up a little groggy. I might even say the wrong side of the bed. I stumbled about, made my coffee, sucked it down, and attempted to go about my usual routine. While checking facebook, I stumble across a status update proclaiming great pleasure at the ‘little fairy’ who had surprise, surprise cleaned this person’s entire flat while the person was away. “I wonder if I could leave my laundry out for the little fairies??? Hmm…”

I don’t know about you, but I have had to clean up after someone else, both as my job and also as a member of a family that doesn’t put much pressure at all on men to do *any* cleaning. I’m not sure if it was because of my history with having to clean up after other people’s messes, or because I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or because I felt very sensitive to the race and privilege disparity between this Caucasian person and the nameless Indian** “fairy” who had the misfortune of cleaning sticky, starchy, day-old rice water from her rented stove top – but I had a little… moment.

Of course, I am sure I felt much more snark than comment actually gave off (or maybe not? I mean, in the world of facebook, twitter and tumblr these things have a way of coming off all wrong) but the point is I felt downright contrary: “Having been someone’s cleaning fairy… I am sure this person would love your appreciation more than a pile of laundry.”

I mean, I don’t think this person was really trying to slight the person whose hard work and time went in to tidying the flat, or the fact that there are race and privilege politics involved in any scenario like that. In short I don’t really think they necessarily meant any harm. And yet – it struck one hell of a nerve.

Oh my gosh. Am I my own feminist killjoy?

** this person is currently living in India

One comment

  1. Pingback: Feminist Friday: Finding Joy | Put Your Damn Pants On!

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