Why I Fail At Feminism (And Why That’s Okay)

At a party a few weeks before Christmas, I was talking with one of those locavore health nuts, a Michael Pollan devotee who I know is secretly judging my every food choice, stalking me in grocery stores and snorting derisively whenever I purchase granola bars instead of making them myself. I haven’t been able to look this man in the eyes because I feed my kids Taco Bell once in awhile. The shame I feel for buying eggs at Fred Meyers is huge.
Anyway. I was talking to this guy, and then I noticed he was eating on a paper plate. Not only that, the plate held a fistful of processed crackers he was dipping into a processed cheese spread. Not only that, but he kept reaching over and eating chips from a bowl. Tortilla chips, and maybe whole grain, but still.
I wanted to raise my fist in triumph. “See here!“ I wanted to announce to the other party-goers, maybe even grabbing the karaoke machine to make my pronouncement. “See Here! Proof that the most ardent of locavores still eats crap once in awhile—and on paper plates, no less!”
But I didn’t make any such announcement, of course. Only smirked to myself a little, comforted by the sense that though we all are ideologues of one kind or another, we fall short of our ideologies, if only because none of us are perfect people, nor are our ideologies perfectly suited for the realities of our lives.
In an attempt at full disclosure, then, here’s some holes in my feminist armor. While I advocate for egalitarianism and the need for a husband and wife to share household tasks 50/50, I still do about 85 percent of the laundry and 90 percent of the cooking, stereotypically “feminine” jobs. Sometimes, I let my husband do tasks for me that require physical strength, not because I can’t do them, but because I’m lazy. I may argue that media needs better representations of women in its offerings, yet I feed the beast by watching reality shows that perpetuate tired tropes about women as bitches, whores, and gold-diggers.
Most days, I’m the feminist equivalent of a locavore eating processed cheese spread on paper plates, dreaming of a Dorito Burrito from Taco Bell.
And I think that’s okay, because while we’re trying to do the best we can to make the world a more just place, sometimes stuff needs to get done.  Families need to be fed. Cheese product needs to be consumed. In the midst of getting stuff done, we need to recognize ways we can honor and support each other, encouraging one another to be all God wants us to be.
A recent interaction with a new friend reminded me of this principle. I should say, a new and cool friend, someone whose life I admire. She gave me a Christmas gift of some really awesome homemade salsas and jellies, then apologized for doing so, worried that I would judge her for being too domestic and Proverbs 31-y.
That apology made me feel sad. First, because hey, I love to eat, and feel grateful for the largesse of others, especially cool new friends. And second, because she admitted she loved making homemade stuff, and I ardently believe that people should get to do what they love to do, unfettered by judgments from folks who assert “All women should learn to sew purple cloth, because that’s what Proverbs says” or “All men should be the dominant leader in the house, because that’s their natural gift.”
When a man is handy with a sewing machine and purple cloth, he should get to sew; if a woman has leadership abilities, she should get to lead. We need to be who God wants us to be, given our gifts and abilities: that’s what I think the message of Christian feminism is.
If I haven’t made that clear in my writing, and in my life, somehow I’ve failed, and I need to try harder—even as I’m cooking supper for my kids, shoving the zillionth load of laundry into the washer this week, and letting my husband open the pickle jar, because my hands aren’t strong enough.
So, cool new friend: keep making jam and salsa. I’ll take whatever you don’t need. Celebrate God’s good gift to you of caring for others. And locavore, keeping fighting your good fight; I’ll look the other way when a Big Mac calls.  And to all of us, may we keep working for justice, recognizing our gifts and our brokenness. May we acknowledge that being biblical has little to do with one’s own gender, but with reflecting Jesus’ life and ministry, creating an equitable world, one where we celebrate God’s good gifts to us, including the occasional Taco Bell burrito.