For the month of December – in honor of Dressember – I’ll be blogging everyday! Thoughts on anything from fighting for justice to feminism, from dresses I’m wearing to books I’m reading, and everything in between.
Last week I wrote about feminism, about how it get’s a bad rep, but it really, truly – at its heart – is simply equality. It was really cool seeing the feedback I got from people – who were glad to see me reclaim the word for good, excited that I was speaking out to the haters, encouraged that I see feminism as a two way street between men and women.
I admitted that there are some crazies out there (like within every belief). One bad apple spoils the bunch, right? Whenever I tell people I’m a feminist, I have to quickly explain, “but I’m not one of those, like, femi-nazis!” So I thought it might do some good to explain some “feminist” movements that I don’t support, or I believe miss the mark:
[For the record, these are my opinions on feminism. You have every right to disagree with me, and be totally on board with these actions, and still claim to be a feminist.]
Free the Nipple
Upset over the double standard of the female nipple having to be censored and the female upper body being overly-sexualized, while male nipples (and men being topless) raise no concern, women have started protesting. #FreeTheNipple events involve women being completely topless, sometimes with their nipples being covered by X’s. I understand that double standards are upsetting. I understand wanting to fight back against that. I understand the frustration of the female body being over-sexualized. I understand wanting that to change. I don’t understand what this particular protest achieves. I think what this movement has in shock value, it lacks in practicality. You running around topless isn’t going to de-sexualize your breasts. It just catches people off guard and makes them uncomfortable. Which, yes, isn’t something to shy away from if you’re trying to change things. But if that’s all you’re achieving? I don’t see the point. The movement has worked long and hard to change indecent exposure laws for females (so being topless is legal), and I personally feel like there are so many more important equalities to be fighting for. Plus, this raises questions on male and female bodies being different – which, scientifically, cannot be argued with. Feminism is about social, political, and economic equality, not claiming physical equality of the sexes.
A similar, yet totally different, movement lately has been defending a mother’s right to breastfeed in public without covering up. I’ve never nursed a child, so I’m not even going to pretend to have an opinion on the issue, but I’m way more willing to support that cause than to “free the nipple” in the name of feminism.
Here’s an example of an idea I so completely agree with… but the execution? Not so much. Rape culture is alive and well. When we hear accusations of rape, we ask a million question of the victim. Instead we should only be asking one, to the perpetrator – “How dare you?!” Slut walks are in defiance of the idea that what a girl was wearing, what she was doing, who she was with was her “basically asking for it” – it fights against victim blaming. Which I am so, totally, completely for. People gather, dressed as “slutty” as possible, and walk the streets of busy downtowns, to make a statement. Which I am not for. Yes, we should never judge a woman’s worth by her appearance. Yes, all women – no matter how they are dressed – deserve to be respected as human beings. Yes, NO ONE “asks” to be raped (what a horrible, horrible thought that too many in our society believe). But is a slut walk achieving this? Is walking around a crowded city with it all hanging out encouraging men to stop seeing us as objects? …or is it giving them a great excuse to view us as just that? I feel like the “feminist” stance that “I can wear whatever I want, my body is my own, it’s not an object for you to sexualize” is correct, but maybe we should start valuing our bodies and respecting them first – in order to set an example for what we hope to achieve. Once again, I feel like there are so many equalities to be fighting for – I feel like there are so many other ways to fight back against victim blaming! – than this.
Side note: I feel like this creates a strange, gray area of what is considered “slutty”. It also makes us admit that we view some women as dressing “slutty” – as in it creates a new arena for not only judging women, but judging them based on their clothes. Also also, it makes the word slut more commonplace. Do we need more of any of this in the world?? No.
Taylor Swift’s / celebrity “Girl Power”
Let me just be clear and say I am a huge T Swift fan. Huge. I know every single album by heart. However, I am not a fan of the idea of “feminism” that she gets connected to in the media (I’m not going to pretend to know her personal views of feminism). Swift (and other various young, successful females these days) promote this idea of girl power that somehow gets translated into feminism. I love girl power just as much as every other Spice Girls fanatic of the ’90s. I support girl power. Girl power, however, is not feminism. Girl power is about empowering women – it’s about encouraging them to be successful without the help of man, knowing their value outside of a relationship, reminding them of the power they have, innately, as a woman. I love that. However, the “girl power” displayed when a women puts together her new furniture by herself doesn’t mean anything when she has no social equality to lean on and the action gets written off as “oh, that looks alright, for a girl”. See the difference??
The most recent upsetting display of “feminism” was Swift’s Bad Blood music video. In case you don’t have 4 minutes to spare to watch it – or weren’t part of the millions who watched it within 24 hours of its release, and broke Vevo’s record as well as the internet – it’s a gang of her celebrity friends, running around in stiletto heels and leather, fighting each other and doing action stunts. Great song? Yes. Should they have left Kendrick Lamar out of it? Yes. Does the music video look like it was so much fun to film? YES. Does it promote feminism, like so many articles claimed? No. Remember how we have so many feminists up in arms about women’s bodies being over-sexualized?? Remember how we have so many women upset over being seen as objects, as their worth being wrapped up in their bodies? But, please, continue running around in your leather jumpsuit with a push up bra built in, and your knee high stiletto boots. Please, continue to argue that the fact that you’re showing girls can fight – girl power!!! – is promoting women’s rights (ignoring that every girl is “fighting” with a pound of make up on, her hair perfectly blowing in the wind, and the video is all about girls fighting each other). This is not feminism, this is a bunch of celebrities playing dress up, living out their dreams of being a badass, and having fun with a stunt team. Which isn’t a bad thing! It’s just not feminism.
Once again, I’m not trying to hate on Taylor Swift. I’m just pointing out that a lot of celebrity “feminism” isn’t actually getting us anywhere closer to equality. Most of it just shows if you’re a girl who happens to be incredibly successful, attractive, and rich you, too, can hope to one day be respected. Maybe. A lot of female celebrities are still only valued for the brands they wear, sadly. Some celebrities have spoken up and supported feminism – which is great! – but most default to girl power.
Refusing to Shave (…or dying underarm hair bright colors?)
Fun history lesson for you: women in America didn’t start shaving their legs and/or underarms until the 1910s. Partly because fashion took a turn – sleeveless dresses were now in, and shorter dresses without (gasp) stockings were slowly becoming acceptable. Partly because of WWI – with so many men away at war, razor companies’ sales started plummeting. Therefore they decided to start marketing to women – and a barrage of advertisements starting showing up with women showing off their hairless underarms. Deodorant companies jumped on board, seeing the potential money to be made, and women were bombarded with this idea that the “modern” woman, the woman who had any chance of attracting a man, most certainly shaves. You want to be desired? You want to be pretty? You want to have worth? Buy a razor.
Is this incredibly messed up? Yes. Is it horrible that now we have this standard of shaving parts of our bodies – that men feel no public pressure to shave? Yes. Are razor blades ridiculously expensive? Ugh, yes. Am I going to stop shaving, in protest, to show my anger? Er…. no. Does this make me a sell out? Does this mean I’m caving to society’s cruel ways? Am I not strong enough to stand by my convictions? Maybe. Or maybe I like the feeling of smooth legs, I like avoiding the BO that comes with not shaving my pits. Sorry, all you hairy feminists. I’m not judging you, I’m just not joining you…
Side note: apparently there’s this new movement to grow out your underarm hair and dye it bright colors to make a statement. Just, you know, FYI.
…and pretty much anything coming from a place of hate
There’s a lot of gender inequalities in our world to be angry about. A lot. I could make a list of the sexist comments that a typical woman has to deal with in a day, the lies she has to hear, the glass ceilings (in so many areas of life) she presses her nose against. I could, but it would be exhausting, because it would be the longest blog post I would ever write. Most times, people are being sexist and promoting sexism without even realizing it. It’s sad and it’s heartbreaking that that is the world we live in, but it’s true.
So it makes sense that there are a lot of angry feminists out there. Sometimes I fall into that category. There’s a time and place to be angry. But anger can quickly and easily turn to hate. And I’ve come to learn that any kind of change – real, lasting change – doesn’t come from movements or protests or actions born out of hate. Please don’t hear what I’m not saying – we can hate the injustices of the world, we can hate the wrongs that have been committed, we can hate the pain that they have caused. But when we are blinded by our hatred, and only have hate towards those who perpetrate these wrongs, we can’t accomplish justice. There are so many feminist protests and campaigns and movements that are born from hatred towards men – and they don’t go anywhere. It’s people (mainly women) who are so consumed with hate they don’t know what to do, they simply lash out. This is why feminism has been come to be known as “man hating”, which isn’t fair at all. We need men if we want women to be seen as equals; we also need to value men if we claim to value equality.
This doesn’t mean that actions can’t be extreme or feminists can’t be fired up or protests can’t be born from a place of anger. I’ve seen far too many feminists lashing out at the world, hating everything in sight, that they end up pushing away the change and progress they want so badly. Yelling at a man for his sexist comment may be called for, at times. Yelling at every single man for every single sexist thing they say is not – because, like I said, there’s so many every single day AND sometimes they don’t even realize what they are saying. Having a conversation with the men (or women!) in our lives – who know us and trust us and respect us – about their sexist comments is always a great place to start. Talking about sexism in general is a great place to start! The world needs more voices on this issue. It doesn’t need more screaming about this issue. Please don’t think I’m passive or submissive or too scared to get my hands dirty here – if you know me, you know I’m not scared of a fight. I simply desire real, true change in our world towards real, true equality of the sexes. I have yet to see an angry, bitter movement born out of hatred towards men accomplish this. But I have seen honest, vulnerable conversations transform lives.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’m not perfect. Maybe I’m narrow minded in some areas or too liberal in others – maybe (definitely) my experiences in life have skewed the way I see things. Do you disagree with what I’m saying?? Do you want to know more? Let’s chat. Not scream, not yell, not sit down simply to prove each other wrong, but really, truly chat.