Hypocrites and Problematic Faves

I’m a bad feminist. I care about women’s issues and I do notice sexist crap, but I’m much more likely to shake my head and roll my eyes if I like everything else about the person/movie/game/etc being sexist. I won’t deny myself time with someone I enjoy based solely on their problematic views on equality, provided we don’t fight so much that every moment with the person is spent either defending myself or looking for an opening to attack them. Likewise, I won’t refuse to go see a movie because it has a rape joke in it, provided I’ve been waiting in anticipation for this movie and would be heartbroken to have to miss it.

It’s more important to me that I support the folks who are doing it right than to boycott the folks who are doing it wrong. I’ll shout from the rooftops about Steven Universe and the presence of different ethnicities, body types, and sexualities, because that is absolutely amazing. I’ll also shout from the rooftops about Kamala Kahn, Spider Gwen, and Female!Thor, Falcon!Cap and Miles!Spidey. I absolutely love that there’s about to be an Avengers team with Falcon, Miles, Kamala, and Female!Thor. I’m so excited about that.

But I’ll still go see Age of Ultron, even if it isn’t the height of Feminist storytelling, because I genuinely enjoy The Avengers.

So I guess that would make me a hypocrite and it would make The Avengers my “Problematic Fave”? On that note, Lemony Snicket is also a Problematic Fave because of the poorly done watermelon joke that Dan Handler made at last years National Book Awards. I didn’t throw away my hardbound copies and I didn’t stop hoping for the netflix series to happen.

It may not always apply to movies or books: In fact, it usually applies to people. Everyone has that Baby Boomer relative they adore but acknowledge that some of the shit they say is out of line. I have SEVERAL of those, and I’ve had to leave the room before I tore into some of them. But I love them and they are also Problematic Faves.

And I guess that makes me a hypocrite and a bad feminist, but I’ve come to realize that while people will shame you for your inconsistencies, it’s only because they don’t see the depths of meaning beneath them. There’s always layers around reactions. The reaction to the sexism in Age of Ultron doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists in a culture where swarms of men are trying to intimidate and threaten women out of their spaces. If we weren’t facing widespread misogyny and threats of violence, the sexism wouldn’t have stung like it did. Similarly, the reaction you have to your Great Aunt Mildred’s hatred of black people exists in a cocoon of family respect and love and the knowledge that she was raised with different values than yourself and that those values are on their way out and won’t have power much longer.

So don’t beat yourself up for having Problematic Faves, because everyone does. It doesn’t make you a hypocrite, and you wouldn’t be alone if it did. But you should be aware of the problematic parts and be aware that the overarching cultural issues are still worth fighting.

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One Comment

  1. Cliff

    Well stated and cogent.

    Off hand I can’t think of any problematic faves … well, actually, I guess my religious friends and family. I am anti-religious philosophically, but I tend to make allowances for people who are sincere in theirs, and not too obnoxious about it.

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