Imperfect feminist


Based on a desire to create a more inclusive, yet critical "Feminism, "Imperfect Feminist" confronts how in this modern era of feminism post understandings of intersectionality and especially as privileged young educated individuals we are called to be critical, inclusive, and all around "perfect" feminists who are expected to act and live up to unreal standards of "perfect" feminism. But what is perfection but an ideal? Through this exhibit I had the privilege of asking eight peers who have been pivotal in my nascent feminist journey at Harvard to sit on the red hot seat – symbolizing the hot seat we all feel as though we are on when talking about such a contentious, inconclusive topic such as feminism – and reflect on what being an "imperfect feminist" means to them.


This exhibit imagines a radically feminist world in which fear of being critiqued for imperfection or not being a "good enough feminist" is eradicated. No feminist nor ally is afraid of being a feminist inclusive of all of his, her, their imperfections. Our feminisms are all "imperfect" in some way, but starting as an "imperfect feminist" is a necessary starting point for iterating a better feminism and a better world moving forward. The obligations of a world of "imperfect feminism" is for all feminists to start and continue to grow and change.


In the worlds of the incredible bell books, "That sisterhood cannot be forged by the mere saying of words. It is the outcome of continued growth and change. It is a goal to be reached; a process of becoming. The process begins with action."

"It’s really about celebrating the attempts that people are making and yes you can critique in a way to bring about more things, but celebrating what someone has made, think about it as building off of that...Be like, "Well, this movement has gone this far, and let me help extend the movement of Black Lives Matter, or Black Trans Lives Matter," you see. You’re just adding on to that, and I think that as feminists, as individuals who want a positive change in the world, what I deem as positive is justice for everyone, equality — that allows everyone to be on the same playing field, we have to help one another and I think you can still critique that, because I don’t want anyone to feel like, “Oh I can’t say anything bad because we’re such a small sect and we have to stick together,” but critique in a way in which you give suggestions on betterment, not just on negation...I think imperfect feminist means that there is room to improve… I think that there is no ending. It's simply a continuation. An evolution. It’s an evolution that’s needed for a revolution."

"Personally I’m very new to the vocabulary of feminism (in terms of intersectionality, etc.), so it almost feels like I don’t speak the same language as others who are steeped in the movement. There are women who are amazing, but who criticize everything that other people say, down to the point that it doesn’t become a productive conversation. It's intimidating because you’re trying to be a part of the movement — you’re trying to understand, yet it feels like you don't belong. I think it brings to mind that we come from all different kinds of backgrounds. Our entry points to feminism are completely different... But I think that’s the beauty — we’re all different, and we bring our unique experiences to the table."

"A lot of people say feminism is not about bringing women up and that it's just about equality. But to achieve that equality is so broad, and I feel like I don’t have the right tools or I don’t have the knowledge or the right to say I’m a feminist just because in speaking about my experiences and my ideas of it, it's very still privileged and biased, in that I can’t escape my life or the boundaries of my experiences to feel how other women or women of other minority experiences experience the term feminism. And so I feel like I’m always stepping on someone's toes by saying something, whatever that something may be, unless I’m saying, “everyone is beautiful!” you know? Like some kind of broad term that brings everyone together but doesn’t say much... It's my hope that everyone else is aware and is cautious, and understands that that their conception of feminism is not final, but that it's a constantly evolving term. And I hope that that in turn creates more empathy between people, whether they be allies or minority members and that there’s this constant desire and will to learn more about it and to keep an open heart and open mind to it."

"You can always do better. I think feminism is definitely something that is … you never reach a point where you are exactly what it needs to be. There’s always room for growth and improvement because its an uphill battle, you know. You never reach a plateau, you can always… you gotta always be climbing up. I think that’s a part that makes it like we’re all imperfect because there’s no way to really be… content until like there’s that utopia we’re looking for. There’s always room for growth, and the acknowledgement of that is a huge part of admitting your flaws and inconsistencies… of being imperfect."

"So for me, it’s actually pretty liberating to be able to call oneself an imperfect feminist because I think that whenever we like dip our toes into something like this, there’s bound to be a group that doesn’t agree with us but allowing for that — allowing for everyone to have a different definition of it. I think that’s what imperfection is — its the fact that perfection doesn’t exist, and that we’re all imperfect feminists in a way because we all approach the issue differently."

"So I think growth has been less about becoming a better feminist and more about gaining confidence in myself as a person, and as far as future growth or whatever, people are always changing, and our perspectives are always changing based on our experiences. And as I experience new things and as I get put into new contexts, my priorities as a feminist will change."

"Just all the snaps in the world. I think that it's a beautiful phrase to capture how I feel about my own feminism, as someone who is still learning, I think that there is a tendency to want to be perfect because very ironically, I think studying institutionalized women and gender studies just ties feminism in at least for me with all the trappings of academia. It's like always having to have read the right authors, to have been exposed to the certain theories and being able to talk about them and apply them properly… And so just being able to balance the imperfections of reality and of my own life with the want to be perfect in an academic sense has been really interesting. We talk about it a lot but there’s almost no way to translate what goes on in the ivory tower to what goes on in the real world, and so I am so down to embrace this idea that we’re all imperfect and we’re all bad feminists."

"I think that that’s everyone. Because we all — our own ideas of what we should or shouldn’t be doing are all so completely different, and there is no perfect feminist, really, because there is no ideal idea of what a feminist should be. Like no one agrees on what the hell we should be doing right now. So I don’t know, we’re all imperfect, and I don’t see a problem with that."

Using Format