The Future is Feminist Joy

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Released: May 2, 2017
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This article appears in our 2017 Summer issue, Invisibility. Subscribe today!

The laziest go-to stereotype of feminists is that we’re angry, angst-ridden folks with an unsightly chip on our collective shoulders. But in my experience, that doesn’t ring true—across the board, my feminist friends are funny, open-hearted, empathetic, and introspective. We’re outraged by the pervasive injustices in our social, economic, and political spheres, but we also find joy in creating tight-knit communities and building relationships based on shared ideals. As Jill Filipovic describes in her first book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, the blueprint to happier lives can be found through implementing holistic feminist ideologies into our friendships, romances, workplaces, homes, and political institutions.

As the 45th President of the United States pushes to, among other horrors, eradicate important gains in reproductive justice and workplace protections for women and LGBTQ employees, it’s often tough to envision the much-needed shifts in public policy that would emphasize equality, fairness, or choice. But for Filipovic, the current backlash makes this a “crucial time to work in the service of hope, social justice, greater equality, and more responsive and representative institutions.” The work lies in redefining culture so that it’s not just the privileged who are “stable enough to seek out new experiences, to learn, to evolve, to take a break,” but that marginalized communities also have access to regular leisure time, affordable and enjoyable food, better working conditions, and family support.

As defined in this full-scope reimagining, happiness can be “both a state of being, something that involves contentment and pleasure, and also an aspiration, a way of living that considers fulfillment and purpose.” Most often, Filipovic observes, women define themselves by their roles in service to others: mother, wife, daughter, employee. But to find happiness, she argues, it’s essential to create roles that support our goals and passions. Among The H-Spot’s strengths are its personal narratives: Filipovic uses her own experiences, as well as interviews with others, to illustrate both the structural obstacles to happiness and the profound connections that can be found when striving for more in our social and professional circles. Such stories also provide a lens for Filipovic to dive into the cultural and political histories of these inequities—and explore ideas for subverting or even eradicating barriers to bliss.

A path to happiness in the time of Trump might seem like a tall order, but Filipovic’s energetic, joyful writing insists that feminists will be the ones who lead the way.

This article was published in Invisibility Issue #75 | Summer 2017
by Allison Mccarthy
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Allison McCarthy is a writer with a focus on personal essays, intersectional feminism and social justice.  Her work has been featured in print and online publications such as The Washington Post, The Guardian (U.K.), AlterNet, The Establishment, Vox, RogerEbert.com, Time.com, xoJane, DAME, Autostraddle, Ravishly, The Frisky, Medium.com (“Human Parts” series), Bitch, make/shift, Ms. (blog), Girlistic, YourTango, Hip Mama, Bustle, Global Comment, Role/Reboot, Shameless, The Feminist Wire, ColorsNW, The Baltimore Review and Hoax, as well as in several anthologies. A graduate of Goucher College and the Master of Professional Writing program at Chatham University, she currently lives in Maryland. She tweets at @allison_writes and her website is http://allisonmccarthy.net.

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