I didn’t know the origin of the now oft-invoked phrase “Nasty Woman” until 2 hours ago, but like almost everyone else who’s remotely in touch with liberal media and discourse, I’ve been hearing the expression for well over 6 months at this point. I tuned out of the presidential race after the first debate in late September and I’m not exactly involved in the sprawling “progressive” side of politics today, so it was easy for the origin of the term to escape me.
For the last 6 months I’ve seen every manner of merchandise with the words “nasty woman” written on it. The expression has made its way into every corner of the modern individuals methods of expression and this isn’t surprising if you take into consideration the popularity of services like Etsy and Redbubble. The usage of the phrase at first bothered me but I wasn’t sure why – I even felt a little bit of guilt when I disapproved of friends using the phrase yet I held my tongue, knowing I wouldn’t be able to defend my position.
When I first heard people calling themselves “nasty women” late last year it wasn’t hard to figure out that the term was re-appropriated from something. Our society is no stranger to re-appropriated terms but what surprised me the most about nasty woman was the phrase being touted like some relic from an age of oppression and fascism.
Earlier today I was prompted to finally learn the origin of the term when my girlfriend bought a pin with the word “nasty” on it.
Learning of its origin only served to further cement my belief that the zeal of modern feminists has increased while what’s at stake for the movement and the importance of what they are fighting for has decreased exponentially. The modern feminist is no longer fighting for empirical equality. Our media has ended the war for gender equality by supporting feminist ideals and gender equality, just like when TV shows began to support gay characters in the late 90s and early 2000s even though gay marriage wasn’t legal nationwide until 2015.
Donald Trump is a 70 year old man. There are very few 70 year olds alive today who are connected enough to their contemporary culture to support or understand feminist ideals. It wasn’t until he was 9 years old that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery Alabama. His lifespan out dates the existence of many rights that we now consider inalienable. It’s absolutely ridiculous to expect consideration and understanding on feminist matters.
The problem with phrases like “nasty women” being reclaimed by feminists is that it gives power to the person who said it when the reality is that if we had just ignored it, it wouldn’t have mattered. Everyone knows that Donald Trump isn’t a standard for social consciousness and never will be, no matter what. The man is a relic from a bygone age and acting like he poses any real threat to social progress is laughable.
I feel like feminism today is becoming a caricature of itself. The strength and passion of feminists only increases as the years wear on but it is the unfortunate case that this is happening while more and more is achieved in the realm of gender equality every day. Feminists are becoming aggressive towards those that oppose their causes while oppositions to their causes are shrinking and stand on their last legs. The phrase “nasty woman” is a testament to this. It began as a reaction to the words of someone who’s opinion on social matters couldn’t be more irrelevant and it continues to exist, achieving nothing. That being said I don’t think participating in the trend does any harm other than take away time from feminists who could otherwise be making valuable contributions to feminist causes.
This brings me to one final point that could and should be discussed in greater detail. I think that it would far more productive for an individual who considers themselves a feminist to simply donate money to Planned Parenthood or women’s shelters than to buy a $23 Nasty Woman shirt. The shirt is bought by people who consider themselves feminists and it’s made by people who consider themselves feminists but it’s one of the most counterproductive exercises of feminism I can think of. Feminism is now about achieving social equality and it’s already well on it’s way towards that. Like every major civil rights movement that came before it, it’s easy to tell when the war is won. Those who hold misogynistic beliefs have been marginalized and are disappearing. It’s infinitely more constructive for feminists to, at this stage in the game, continue to make the world a better place by engaging in empirical acts of kindness by donating to charity, doing relief work or educating people kindly and logically.
Though I know it’s not mutually exclusive, it’s my firm belief that Nasty Women should focus a bit more on being charitable women, strong women, kind women. It’s much more important for us to focus on doing good rather than pushing back against the bad. We accomplish nothing by criticizing that which everyone already understands to be wrong. We can accomplish something by putting into practice the feminist ideas that women can achieve great things. Proclaiming yourself a “nasty woman” achieves nothing. It’s our job as humans to continue to push civilization forward in a time when we have so many tools to do so. It’s our job as humans to focus on a better future for all and leave misogyny in the past.