By Catherine Connors

My favorite thing about storytelling in the League of Badass Women community is that it tends to favor stories about badasses. There’s a lot of super smart commentary and reflection and idea-generation, but if I had to guess what share of stories are about the badass ways that women (including ourselves!) are showing up in the world, I’d say that it’s somewhere north of half.

This makes sense, of course: we’re a community of badasses who are dedicated to using our badassery to make a better world, and so we’re rich in stories of that badassery, and we delight in discovering more such stories. Our feeds and email threads and virtual gatherings resonate with the names of women — some famous, some virtually unknown beyond our circles — who are changing the world in ways both big and small. And we hold tight to the conviction that our work and the work of all the other badasses whose stories we share are changing the world.

That does not mean, however, that every woman who shows up in a powerful way in the world is a badass — at least not on our definition. Nor does femaleness or femininity automatically confer badass status: having lady parts or a preference for feminine appearance does not make one naturally more compassionate, curious, courageous or open-hearted. Badassery is about what you do more than it is about who you are.

In the U.S. there’s recently been much fuss made about the fact that Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, is a woman. That the nominee is a woman is no accident: it’s a tactic to (among other things) make any criticism of the nomination sound hypocritical. How can Democrats claim to support women but reject a female nominee? Isn’t that just typical of feminism, the argument goes: it only supports somewomen.

That’s false, of course: feminism, on its core definition, supports the right of all women to be treated equitably under the law and to be able to participate fully in the social, political, and economic spheres of their communities. And it rejects and resists the marginalization or oppression of any and all women.

In other words, feminism supports the right and freedom of Amy Coney Barrett to pursue a career as a judge — to pursue any career that she likes — and to have equitable access to the resources and opportunities that are granted her male peers. It does not guarantee her a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. (When Ruth Bader Ginsburg declared that she wanted a future in which the majority of the seats on the Supreme Court were filled by women, she didn’t mean any women — she meant qualified women, appointed under legitimate process. And not “qualified” in the sense of being liberal — RBG famously befriended and respected Justice Scalia, a devout Catholic conservative — but in the sense of being literally qualified. Amy Coney Barrett has not only been nominated under highly suspect circumstances by a corrupt President, she’s been nominated with only two years of judicial experience.)

But the more important point about feminism — and badassery — relevant to someone like Amy Coney Barrett and her supporters is this: it rejects and resists the marginalization and oppression of women, and indeed of anyone, and therefore can’t be claimed by any person who accepts and/or promotes the marginalization and oppression of women or anyone.

In the League of Badass Women, we define badassery in explicitly feminist terms, and in explicitly humane terms. To be a badass isn’t to show up aggressively in the world, scrambling for power and influence at the expense of others. It’s to show up generously and compassionately, curiously and bravely, assertively and humbly. (Some days, as we discuss frequently in the PowerUps, it’s just to show up. When the world weighs so heavily upon us, it is badass to just get out of bed and do the work.)

That means, of course, that YOU are a badass.

Note: the assertion “YOU are a badass” is true regardless of your gender — being a feminist or a badass does not require one to identify as female. Some of my favorite feminist badasses are men and boys.

One way of exercising your badassery is to celebrate it. Today, take a few minutes to celebrate yourself and any other badasses in your world. Share those stories. Remind yourself and each other that showing up as badasses is making a difference.

Because it is.

— Catherine

Wear A Mask, Save The World

We created a series of badass masks for anyone who wants to practice care through mask wearing and mask giving. Choose from Wear A Mask / Save The World, Badasses Wear Masks, and Unf*ck The Vote. All proceeds go directly to saving democracy in the US, via the #VOTEUS project.


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