It’s Hard to be Woke

Every day we have to make conscious choices in order to be a good human being. I wish it were easy, that being a woke, intersectional feminist came naturally to me, to everyone. But the truth is that it is exhausting to be ethically conscious at all times. We are constantly bombarded by the opportunity to make bad choices –– to indulge in guilty and easily accessible pleasures such as catchy sexist lyrics, movies featuring sex offenders, funny off-color jokes and pretty packaged meals that are bad for the environment. On a good day it is hard to keep yourself from indulging in all of these appealing options, but on most days this is just impossible.

In order to be awarded a golden woke star, one would have to read closely into all the news about movie stars and filmmakers involved in sexual abuse and actively boycott all of the films that they are involved in. The perfect feminist would never listen to any songs that have sexist lyrics; they would never watch a movie that did not past the Bechdel test. A true environmentalist would cut all red meat and only shop for clothes that use fabrics and materials that are kind to the environment; they would give up using straws and pretty much buying anything in supermarkets.

Being woke is a privilege. It represents a high cost in time and money. Organic food is expensive; being vegetarian (or vegan) means an extra effort to learn recipes, educating oneself in nutrition and making sure that you are getting all of your proteins. To not produce unnecessary waste is increasingly difficult in a consumerist society. It implies conscious choices on what and where to shop and changing your entire lifestyle. Not everyone can afford to do that, and that is okay.   

I tend to find comfort in Roxane Gay, as we all should. Her essay “Bad Feminist” reassures me into realizing that other people struggle in the same way I do. She writes about the constant battle that rages inside her as she tries to fit feminism (the idealized kind) into her very incompatible life choices. She describes her guilt whenever she finds herself enjoying rap songs that are far from feminist, and then she finishes her essay saying she would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.

I would prefer to try and fail at being woke than not being woke at all. I believe in trying my best, and I also believe that self-care is turning off your social consciousness and just enjoying a movie or a song for the sake of it and moving on.

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