Token Feminist Columnist

I used to write/rant a lot about the free daily Chicago publication the RedEye, particularly about how absurd and sexist it was. (See this or this.)

Then about a year ago I started writing for the RedEye. After pitching to the opinion editor a few times, one impassioned, rather bold and arrogant “I can do op-ed better than your current roster” plea got through. I met the editor, we chatted a bit and he agreed to “see how it goes.”

A year later I’ve written over two dozen columns and justly or unjustly so have positioned myself as the RedEye’s feminist columnist, much to the dismay of this schmutz.  Hyperbolic feminazi name-calling aside, it’s been kind of flipping amazing to write about the issues I care about to an audience of 200,000 (not to mention actually getting PAID to do it.) It feels pretty great to be part of the media I spent so many years criticizing.

But in other ways feeling like the token feminist at the RedEye, meant I felt this overarching pressure to only write about gender and to only write about things that really mattered for gender equality. Every week this meant pitching what can be the rather depressing “women’s issues” such as birth control, domestic violence and equal pay, all of which made me begin to feel like a one-dimensional cartoon character. I had pigeon holed myself into the Portlandia feminist.

The truth is I don’t only care about “women’s issues.” Sometimes I want to write about my deep love of the Green Bay Packers and other times about the how much dating sucks. And while I always wear my vagina with pride, I don’t always feel the need to defend it in print.

That is why last week’s column disparaging the Blackhawk’s Ice Crew as sexist was so amazingly fantastically awesome. Not just because it was a feminist column that I didn’t write but because it was written by a man. A MAN.

And this is where a bit of my paradigm begins to shift. I often feel the need to hold up the feminist torch as a female writer for the RedEye without realizing that I’m not the only one who cares about a more just world. As a woman, it is not my sole responsibility to end sexism. Men want this as well. And just as Scott can write about sexism in hockey, just as he can care about ending gender inequality, I can care about ending racism or homophobia or about my undying love for the Green and Gold.


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