The Girl Who Didn’t Need Feminism
A Fictional but Probably Pretty Truthful Cautionary Tale
Once upon a time and approximately 40 minutes outside of Dover, Delaware, there lived a beautiful girl who was sitting on the metaphorical top of the world.
But four weeks before, the beautiful girl was the angriest she had ever been.
The United States Supreme Court had issued a ruling in a case about some craft supply store where they basically said — from what the girl gathered -that employers didn’t need to pay for sluts’ Plan B.
Women are so irresponsible sometimes, she thought to herself. Just wear a condom and this wouldn’t even be an issue.
The girl was enraged. Besides the fact that it was a Monday, now she had to deal with watching her friends post irate statuses and tweet angry tweets and make ridiculous claims that women are oppressed in the United States of America.
She was ashamed to be a girl, pissed that she was associated with these harpies who harped and harped about oppression and the fact that five men ruled “against women” and that women needed special protections and that the ruling was proof that the country needs feminism more than ever.
By the time she read a Planned Parenthood graphic that screeched “We dissent!” (using the royal we to mean all women, she assumed), the beautiful girl had had enough. She could tolerate that Sandra Fluke character bragging about how much sex she had on CSpan, and she could grit her teeth as everyone celebrated the misandry-laden new season of Orange is the New Black, but the fact that these women tried to speak for an entire gender — her gender — and propagate the lie that all women were victims in this great, star-spangled country was simply too much.
I don’t need this, she thought, with the same tone as high-stressed, impatient young adults who “just can’t.” Then she thought harder: Not only do I not need this, I also truly don’t need this! Like, it is not required for my success! And I want to tell the world!
And so she did what any self-respecting millennial would do: She scrawled out loud block letters on her throwback-ironic Lisa Frank stationary, took a selfie from her good side, and started a Tumblr. She wrote: I don’t need feminism because I make my own choices and don’t need to blame men for my problems. I support equal rights for ALL humans and don’t need to be told what to believe!
Now, just four weeks since the ruling that supposedly set the Women’s Special Rights movement back decades, the girl was on top of the world. Through her Tumblr, she realized that she wasn’t alone. In the four weeks since her post, tens of thousands of people followed her Tumblr, and hundreds of girls like her — affluent white girls ages 14-23 — submitted their own photos and statements standing against male-hating feminists.
I LOVE my boyfriend and he LOVES me too!
When I dress feminine it’s for ME! I am NOT oppressed!
Women have the same opportunities as men in this world!
It’s 2014 and I love all humans equally — equal rights, not special rights.
I have a boyfriend who is a good cuddler he really is he wraps me up in his arms and he does not abuse me he is a man and men have rights too and men respect women who respect themselves (so no I’m not a feminist because I don’t hate men) and btw taking your husband’s last name isn’t sexist it’s UNITY!
The girl found the last one especially inspiring.
As she watched the submissions roll in each day (Because I have agency too!) the girl carried about her daily routine. She shaved her legs and applied her makeup for 20-25 minutes each morning; she had a sandwich for her boyfriend ready right before he left for work (with the crusts sliced off, just the way he liked it!); she answered phones and scheduled appointments for her male boss; she came home, took off her high heels and soaked her blistered feet in a bath; and she had average sex with her boyfriend (even though she wasn’t particularly in the mood).
One day, the girl received a Gchat from one of her best female friends from college, upset because she had been passed over for a promotion at her job in favor of a male colleague.
The beautiful girl felt a great sense of pity for her friend — the friend was really great at her job, was really passionate, and had been working really hard.
If only she just leaned in a little more, the beautiful girl thought, thinking of some of the submissions on her Tumblr. If only she took her fate into her own hands and asked for the promotion — really showed her boss that she was the right one for the job!
The beautiful girl knew that her friend’s biggest enemy was herself: She simply didn’t have the confidence. But the girl didn’t say anything — she didn’t want to Fem-splain the situation.
On her drive home from work that day, the beautiful girl stopped at the grocery store to pick up a 6-pack for her boyfriend (who she loved and was equal to). As she walked from her car, she heard a chorus of whistles from across the parking lot.
“Well hey there pretty lady — you are looking delicious today,” an older gentleman called to her. “Why don’t you come over here and tell me about your day? And while you’re at it, smile for me, sweetie.”
The girl didn’t want to smile for him and his friends — she felt immediately uncomfortable, nervous about why he had singled her out and what would happen if she didn’t smile for him.
Suddenly, she remembered a recent submission on the Tumblr (Society does NOT objectify me — feminists are the ones who tell me that!), and she walked with a little more confidence and her head held high into the store.
When she left the store, her arms full with heavy grocery bags, she passed a new group of men — teenage boys on skateboards.
“Hey there mama, you got your milk and eggs for the week?” one of them cooed at her. “Are you going to share with the neighborhood kids? Are you going to bake us some muffins?” The guys all laughed and patted each other on their backs, and one of them continued to follow the beautiful girl.
He was walking quickly.
“Why are you running, sexy?” he called after her, hopping on his board and easily cutting her off before she could unlock her car.
“Why are you running away from me?” he said again, winking at her and making a kissy face. “I just wanted to talk.”
I am not a victim, the girl thought, recalling several posts she had read from that morning. I am able to protect myself. I have agency.
She surveyed the boy, though, and realized that he was much taller than her. He must have weighed 150 pounds more than her. And there were 6 others trailing not far behind. And she was pretty scared.
“I’m sorry,” the girl said, bowing her head and finally unlocking the door.
“No worries, sweetie,” the boy said, satisfied with her answer, before he skateboarded away from her car. “Have fun baking those muffins.”
As the weeks drew on, the beautiful girl began to notice that her experiences weren’t always reflected in the messages that young women held up in photos they submitted to her Tumblr. She processed a paycheck for a new receptionist at work — a man a few years younger than her — and noticed that it was a little bit bigger than her own check. When she and her boyfriend ran out of the condoms that she had bought on her own, her boyfriend complained that he was sick of using condoms anyway and asked why she wasn’t on the pill already. Her family began bugging her about when she was finally going to get engaged and have a wedding and start having kids, even though she wasn’t ready for any of that and her boyfriend wasn’t being asked those same questions.
By the time of the Tumblr’s 4-month anniversary, a majority of the new submissions didn’t sit quite right with the girl: Feminists are feminazis! Women are only paid less if they don’t work as hard! Stop being dramatic, women!
One night she brought up her concerns with her boyfriend, saying she may have overstated her opposition to women’s rights and that maybe if she had thought a little harder she would….
“That’s cute and all, babe,” her boyfriend said, cutting her off. “But I’ve been meaning to tell you something else. It’s about us. I think we have to end it.”
He told her that he had fallen in love with someone else. That while she had been wrapped up in the Tumblr and her internal monologue about whether she had Tumbled too soon, he had fallen in love with a girl who was a little younger, a little thinner, and a little more blonde.
“You’re nice and smart, baby, but she’s an 11,” he said. “I knew you’d understand.”
“What?” the girl said, blindsided. “Can we talk about this? I thought we…”
Her no-longer-boyfriend cut her off again — “I hate when you argue with me…Why do you always have to be such a fucking bitch about these things?” — before getting up, leaving the apartment and slamming the door.
The beautiful girl cried and cried, and as she turned to her legion of new friends on Tumblr for solace, she found herself disgusted by the posts.
There is no patriarchy stop playing the victim!!
I am not a target for violence. There is NO war against me. You get what you ask for.
I am thin because I WANT to be thin, not because someone told me to be.
Feminists need to shut the fuck up stfu stfu stfuuuuuuu
She deleted her Tumblr page and posted a new selfie and a new statement: “Maybe we do need feminism after all I’m sorry everyone.”
It got nine likes, three comments, and one spambot ad.
But despite the fact that she could never truly stamp out the fire her supposed “movement” had ignited in misinformed teenage girls and privileged men’s rights activists, she took solace in understanding her error, in realizing that just because a 22-year-old girl hadn’t yet noticed oppression because of her gender didn’t mean that the oppression did not exist. That her Tumblr, which by this point had launched an international feminist-hating megaphone, was a damaging pit of loathing, a festering sore on the Internet that sadly wore the mask of a legitimate grassroots movement.
She also took solace in the fact that she was referred to throughout her unfortunate fable as “beautiful.” Because feminists can still enjoy being called beautiful, you know.
Oh, and she lived happily ever after. Or like, mostly. Or like, “Happily ever after but sadly under the patriarchy.”
Or something like that.
Maybe her feelings don’t fit in a fucking Tumblr post.