It’s been a long year.
To be fair, there have been a lot of long years, but as a progressive, queer feminist–2017 felt particularly long.
If you’re here, you have feminists in your life–good on you for keeping great company. But if you’re not sure this post is for you, let’s go over some basics.
Feminism is for everyone.
I mean it. Any human who believes in gender equality can be a feminist. Feminism benefits people who are women, men, gender-variant, transgender, intersex, straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, lesbian, feminine, masculine, androgynous, and any combination thereof. The systems that keep marginalized genders oppressed, also confine men to unrealistic and unhealthy standards of gender.
Feminism is not black and white.
As a feminist, sexism probably isn’t the only problem in your life. Maybe you’re also coming up against homophobia, racism, transphobia, fatphobia, or ableism. All these issues are interconnected and affect each one of us in different ways and in different amounts. Being aware and taking these factors into account is known as intersectional feminism.
It’s kind of like we’re all looking at the huge problem through tiny peepholes. No single person can see the entire issue because we’re all viewing the world through our limited experience. We need to listen to each other to fill in the gaps and get a full, accurate picture of what’s going on.
As a queer person, I can speak to how my feminism is affected by homophobia, but as a smaller person, I rely on others to guide me on how gender inequality is compounded by fatphobia. As a white person, I defer to people of color for how their experience of sexism is complicated by racism.
Feminism mixed with capitalism is complicated.
Whenever I see a for-profit company start breaking out whatever feminist lingo is trendy at the moment, I have to ask myself, “Why?” Call me cynical, but I doubt it’s altruistic. A shaving cream company doesn’t talk about women’s rights so you’ll question why American culture has decided it’s “gross” to not shave. (Spoiler: it’s not gross. Are men’s legs gross? No, they’re just legs.) The shaving cream brand wants you to feel like choosing their shaving cream is a feminist act, but is it?
Feminist acts are lifting others up, taking political action, and making the radical leap to be who you want to be and love who you are.
Capitalism, in many ways, is counter to feminism. Products that help people chase unrealistic and sexist body ideals (for all genders) is a multi-billion dollar industry. If we start liking ourselves, they lose money. Capitalism is set up to benefit the same demographics that benefit from gender inequality.
So isn’t a feminist gift list an oxymoron?
Pretty much, yes. While many wonderful acts of charity happen this time of year, the holidays are a capitalist playground. But here is something you already know and that our feminist elders knew before us:
It’s a long march. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And you get tired.
We need to take care of ourselves. We all need to recharge so we have the energy to fight another day. To keep pushing for our rights and the equal rights of others who don’t have the ability to take a time out.
People recharge themselves in all different ways and for many of us it’s bringing humor into this dark, tough work. Our goal is to be thoughtful and self-aware without holding ourselves to impossible standards.
Will wearing a tee shirt that says “Smash the Patriarchy” bring down the patriarchy? No.
But if wearing that shirt gives you the energy and hope to dig in and do the hard work instead of getting so exhausted you’re binge-watching Netflix to avoid thinking about it, then, yes, the feminist tee shirt helps.
What you can do about it.
While you’re doing your shopping this year consider adding a women’s shelter to your list of people you’re buying gifts for. According to the CDC, one in four women will experience “severe physical violence by their intimate partner.” I’m sure you know more than four women. How scary is that?
Organizations that support survivors of domestic violence are critically important and often underfunded. When you’re picking out the perfect gift for feminists in your life, take a look at the Amazon wishlists of these domestic violence centers in Georgia, Massachusetts, California, and Washington state. If you’re able, buy them something too.
To borrow from airline language, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first and then assist those around you. If you can’t breathe, you’re no help to anyone. Take care of yourself, because we need you, so we all can keep marching on.
(And smashing the patriarchy.)
1. Best Unique Christmas Gift for Feminists: Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles
For an unexpected and intriguing read, take a peek at Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisia Kitaiskaia who is speaking on behalf of Baba Yaga. This is a “Dear Abby” advice column but instead of some columnist, people are seeking advice from Baba Yaga: the cunning, witch from Russian folklore who is both wise woman and the wild, dark crone that makes children hide under the covers.
Started as an online column, Ask Baba Yaga was released as a book this fall and I’ve been counting down the days. Baba Yaga’s advice is ancient, other-worldly, more than a little blunt–yet somehow entirely on point. It’s even presented in a typewriter format, as if Baba Yaga could only stand so much of our silly technology. It’s a fun, easy read and perfect for reading the short questions and answers out loud to each other. In an age when our lives are so entwined with the digital, it’s good to reach out to the feminine wisdom of the dark, ancient forest. If this sort of thing intrigues you, check out my guide to the best Yule gifts for Wiccans and pagans.
2. Best Christmas Gift for Feminist Coffee Drinkers: Tears of the Patriarchy Coffee Mug
This is exactly what it says on the tin. When you just need a little mental pick me up, drinking your morning coffee from a mug that proclaims it’s the tears of the patriarchy is hard to beat. You work hard to make those misogynists weep, so you ought to be able to proudly enjoy the fruits of your labor. It’s also a perfect reminder every morning of the goals we have and what we’re fighting for. This 11 ounce mug is microwave and dishwasher safe to be as convenient as possible because we’ve got important things to do. It arrives in a handy gift box.
3. Best Christmas Gift for Feminist Parents: Lego Women of NASA Building Kit
If you’re looking for a feminist activity with your family, this Lego set is an awesome choice for kids of all genders. It’s for ages 10 and up and features four women who made great contributions to NASA. Women in science? Absolutely. Women into building Lego? Heck, yes. This set includes Margaret Hamilton and her stack of code for the Apollo missions, Nancy Grace Roman and the Hubble Space Telescope, and astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison with the Space Shuttle Challenger. It’s educational but fun. This is a great way for your kids get to learn about the history of women who made a huge differences in the sciences and show them that women can do anything.
4. Best Political Christmas Gift for Feminists: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Queen of Hearts Shirt
Queen of our hearts, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been fighting for women’s rights for years. This is the stony face of dissent in a world run by people who would rather she sat quietly at home. The Supreme Court has been around for 220 years and there have only been four women to sit on it, so Justice Ginsburg is a big deal. At 84 years old, she is in better shape than I will ever be in my life. If you ever want to see a fraction of how tough she is, you can buy The RBG Workout written by her trainer and ruin yourself trying to keep up.
This shirt shows her crowned, as it should be, with her books and a gavel. The fabric is incredibly soft and comfortable. The image is screenprinted in Michigan with American made ink that is phthalate-free. It’s available in sizes small to XXX-large.
Price: $9.95 (44 percent off MSRP)
5. Best Cheeky Christmas Gift for Feminists: Jurassic Feminist Cameo Necklace
If you’re looking for a gift for someone who is both a feminist and a Jurassic Park fan, this is the jackpot. The original Jurassic Park movie was surprisingly feminist for the time. Dr. Sattler is tough as nails, has the most intense eye-rolls when the men try to control her, and it’s Jeff Goldblum’s character who ends up in the “damsel in distress” role of being rescued and half-naked–not that I’m complaining. This iconic quote is set on scroll-work with a ferociously pink Tyrannosaurus Rex. The cameo is about two inches tall and 1.25 inches wide. It’s set on an 18 inch metal chain that is nickel and lead free.
6. Christmas Gift for Feminist Moms: Boss Babes: A Coloring and Activity Book for Grown-Ups
This is a 96 page activity book with coloring pages, crosswords, puzzles, fun facts, and other activities celebrating feminist icons. There are portraits to color of women like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Malala, J. K. Rowling, and Serena Williams. The list of women included is diverse and intersectional. There are a couple of problematic inclusions, like Amy Schumer, which you sort of have to expect from a project like this, but for the most part you’re looking at awesome icons like Michelle Obama and Mindy Kaling. It’s a great gift for adults who love to color for stress relief, adults who love other feminist women, and kids and teens who you’d like to see take a break from fairy tale princesses and instead color Frida Kahlo or Beyonce.
7. Best Cute Christmas Gift for Feminists: Cinnamon Rolls Not Gender Roles Shirt
The clock is ticking on how long I go without buying this shirt for myself. We do need more cinnamon rolls and fewer gender roles in our world. Gender roles tell us how we should act based on antiquated ridiculousness like how men shouldn’t cry and women shouldn’t swear–and that gender is binary. Respectfully, forget that. Instead, cinnamon rolls are way better, and I stand by that whether we’re talking about the sticky sweets or the internet meme that uses the term cinnamon roll for people who are too kind and pure for this world.
This shirt is 100 percent cotton with a fitted cut. If you’re often on the edge of sizing, ordering a size up would be best. Ironically, while it’s dissecting the gender binary, this shirt is available in women’s sizes, men’s sizes, and youth. In addition to the black, the shirt also comes in green, navy blue, royal blue, and grey.
8. Best Sex-Positive Christmas Gift for Feminists: F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed
For the adults on your list, check out this book by Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson that just came out this fall. Inspired by their long-running podcast, their book tackles sex and the shame that holds us back from having healthy sexual relationships with others and with our own bodies. Both women are stand-up comedians and approach the topic with humor, sincerity, and the blunt openness of people who know that there’s nothing to ashamed of. Though it’s filled with humor and personal anecdotes, the core of the book works to address and remove your own personal ideas of shame.
This isn’t just a book for women, this is a book for anyone who is interested in sexuality and in having better, healthier sex. Sexual shame is smothering and unhealthy for all genders. In case you can’t tell by the title, the language in the book is explicit. It’s not purposely salacious or pornographic, something both authors were very concerned with avoiding, but they don’t censor themselves for the sake of politeness. This is a perfect gift for the sex-positive feminists in your life.
9. Best Subtle Christmas Gift for Feminists: My Favorite Season Shirt
Another fun, lighthearted shirt, this one celebrates everyone’s favorite season. I love cheeky stuff like this that people might miss if they aren’t paying close enough attention. It reminds me of R rated cross-stitching because it has that sweet, breezy look to it that slams you at the end, like hey, you thought this was a fluffy shirt, but I’m totally plotting the demise of the patriarchy.
I like that the shirt has such a femme feel to it and, culturally, when you think of this idea of feminists against the patriarchy, the image isn’t usually feminine–which is absolutely a product of the patriarchy. So that’s one more reason why its fall is my favorite season. The shirt is 100 percent cotton and comes in men’s, women’s, and youth sizes.
10. Best Intersectional Christmas Gift for Feminists: Science is Real Shirt
The shirt the covers the war cry of 2017. Science is real. Black lives matter. No human is illegal. Love is love. Women’s rights are human rights. And kindness is everything. For the person who is getting through these rough times by making sure their position and resistance is known, this shirt would make a spot on gift. When the going gets tough, we have to remind ourselves of these unshakable truths. The shirt is a statement of love and one that may help strangers passing you on the street feel safer knowing that there is another person who is willing to publicly say that it’s important that people are treated equally and that the environment is respected. The shirt comes in men’s and women’s sizes as well as in blue, black, pink, white, and heather grey.