How to cope with feminist burnout
To live as a feminist means being proud, resilient, and unapologetic in your advocacy for equality, and this fight to abolish the patriarchy has never been an easy one.
For those of us who identify as feminists, the mere act of existing is reason enough for many to hold us in disdain. Strangers and loved ones can turn against us. They equate our demand for basic human rights to misandry. They label us as "angry feminists".
But we keep explaining how "man-hating" has no place in our movement. We embrace the "angry feminist" tag with open arms; the centuries of oppression that women and gender minorities endured gives us every right to be enraged.
There are, however, times when we feel intense exhaustion from constantly fighting for something so fundamental as our human rights, from debating over issues so personal to us with random misogynists from down the block. On days like this, we don't have the emotional capacity to deal with unwarranted hate.
This is "feminist burnout", and many feminists experience it in some form or another.
When you're fatigued, the ever-present instances of casual sexism only elicit from you a resigned sigh, instead of the usual sense of burning fury. You simply want to go to bed and wake up to a world where every individual is well versed in the feminist ideals.
While such a feeling is often unavoidable, learning how to deal with it is essential.
The very first step is acknowledging the problem. Understand that it's completely normal to experience feminist burnout. Being fatigued doesn't make you a bad feminist and it definitely doesn't take away from the legitimacy of your advocacy.
Then, take a step back. Focus on your mental health and wellbeing. If you're lucky enough to have feminist friends, make that your sanctuary. It helps to surround yourself with people who don't need an explanation for why feminism is still relevant now that women can vote.
Also, try redirecting your energy to achievable causes. Maybe you want to help your parent understand why the word "feminist", as opposed to "humanist", more aptly describes someone who stands for gender equality. Or maybe you want your school authorities to stop discriminating between male and female students when it comes to sports. Whatever it may be, thinking of specific issues to tackle can give you the sense that your activism is making an impact.
Lastly, choose your battles wisely. When you encounter a misogynist, assess whether it's really worth your time to engage. Do they seem like they are willing to unlearn biases, or are they simply being ignorant?
Being a feminist is not supposed to feel like a full-time job. This identity is meant to be empowering. Don't let it consume you.
Nahian Nawar tends to fixate on random and unimportant details. Send her ideas on what to fixate on next at [email protected]