A while ago a friend of mine was shocked to hear me call myself a ‘feminist.’ From what I could gather, his definition of the term was reserved exclusively for hairy man-haters who c0nsider the male gender an out-dated product of evolution.
Let me tell you, the discussion got pretty ugly. In fact, in the end we weren’t able to resolve it.
To me, however, the incident was an eye-opener. It made me realize the dire need for clarification.
So here it is.
Here’s the Deal with Feminism, and It’s Very, Very Simple.
Feminism is when I get to call myself whatever I want to call myself without having anyone, be it man or woman, telling me that it’s the wrong term for what I want to call myself.
I am suffering multiple nervous breakdowns listening to podcasts that discuss whether or not Beyoncé is a ‘real’ feminist. If Beyoncé SAYS she is a feminist, then BEYONCÉ IS A FEMINIST. Discussing whether the woman has picked the right term to describe herself is precisely the reason why we still. Need. Feminism.
And guess what.
Feminism is shaving my legs. You know why? Because I choose to do so. Or feminism is not shaving my legs. You know why? Because I choose to do so! No, you cannot force people to find beauty in leg hair. But you can expect them to respect someone’s personal decision to have it — or not to have it.
When I cut my hair to chin-length, a colleague gave me his unsolicited opinion as soon as he got a chance. “You cut your hair,” he said. “I liked it better before. I don’t like short hair on women.”
I am sorry —did I evoke the impression that I give a shit? If so, let me correct my mistake. I turned around, looked at him and — with a smile the sweetness of which surprised myself — said: “Well my friend, since my life revolves around you and you alone I will swiftly grow it back to a length that pleases your eye.”
His face turned very, very crimson after that.
Feminism is being being a stay-at-home mom. It is being a programmer, a Target cashier, a secretary, or the freaking President. Because I choose to be a programmer, a Target cashier, a secretary, or the freaking President. Maybe I’ve just got what it takes and it makes. Me. Happy!
Feminism is when I expect people to not get irritated with me if I don’t smile through meetings like an idiot just because I am supposed to be nice at all times. This is my think-face, you prick. I can think, you know.
And here’s another one: I don’t owe you looking pretty whilst doing so. In fact, I don’t owe anybody looking pretty whilst doing anything. I am trying to get shit done here. I have more important things on my mind than hoping my appearance won’t offend your visual preferences.
Feminism is when the existence of #girlboss makes you sad because it implies that female superiors are still such an exception that #boss does not automatically include them. Also, it’s when we can all stop admiring women for being bosses or mechanics or doctors or senators simply because they are bosses or mechanics or doctors or senators. That’s downright depressing.
Feminism is taking my husband’s name. Or not! It’s choosing to have 7 children. Feminisim is choosing not to reproduce at all, instead celebrating my pay-check with a life-time golf club membership and a bunch of margaritas. Daily. Forever. Until I turn old and wrinkly and, by all means, visually unpleasant.
Why? You guessed it: because I want to.
No other reason necessary.
No. Other. Reason. Necessary.
So, Does Feminism Go with White Wedding Dresses?
I was once asked whether I thought my white wedding dress wasn’t perhaps cementing old-fashioned, misogynist traditions. The question is legitimate but the answer is: No. Why?
Do I even need to elaborate? I feel like I am repeating myself, but here we go.
Feminism is when I choose a white dress. For my wedding. Because I want to have a white dress. I don’t want a red dress or a blue dress. I think white is awesome. I also think blue is awesome. I think whatever a person chooses for themselves is probably right for them.
And can we all just stop discussing whether or not someone who is wearing a hijab or a mini-skirt or a low-cut top can in fact be feminist? Jesus Christ, prostitutes can be feminists — if only they wish to live in a world in which ALL people, no matter their gender, truly get to make the choices that they think suit them and their lifestyle and their situation the best.
So! You want to be a feminist AND wear a hijab? Welcome to the club, sister (or even better, brother) — because why on earth would I want to make this ONCE AGAIN about what Woman is allowed to wear or not?
I want to live in a society where my choice doesn’t have to be a reaction to the past or to an accusation or to a stereotype— it is actually a choice. A real, proper, free choice.
And I want to live in a society where this choice no longer has to be justified or explained, to anyone.
Also not to my co-worker.
Oh God, When Can We Finally Stop Talking about Feminism, You Ask?
After seeing Wonder Woman a few weeks ago, a straight white man asked me whether the movie was, in my opinion, hyped ‘just because’ it was directed by a woman and featured a female superhero. Or — and this was the alternative — was it actually a good movie in and of itself? Like, was it better than the average superhero movie?
Here’s a question for you, weird white dude: It’s a 2017 superhero movie. How good can it be?
Why does everything women make have to be BETTER than the totality of all the stupid shit men have made over the course of human history? Why can’t we just make the same, average stuff they have made for centuries — nay, millennia? And enjoy it, too? And earn a fortune with it, perhaps simply entertaining the masses, and have no claim to be any better than anyone else?
Feminists don’t ask to be super-human. They ask to be human. That is all.
And so feminism will have succeeded when society naturally thinks of all genders, including those lying outside of the strictly binary man/woman concept, as equals that have the innate potential to do anything the other is capable of doing, too.
Feminism has succeeded when, after being physically harrassed, intelligent people don’t automatically revert to victim blaming, mumbling weird stuff like: “Well, to be fair, she’s good at provoking.” (True story. I was asleep.)
Wake up people. This isn’t the old testament. Even if Eve did tempt Adam with that apple, ADAM STILL MADE A CHOICE. Get this into your brains. Adam made a choice.
Adam made a choice.
Adam made a choice.
Feminism believes that both women and men are more than just a bunch of uncontrollable hormones. It firmly believes in the intellectual capacity of men to control their urges to take what is not theirs— and it believes in the intellectual capacity of women to reign countries and think smart things despite having periods.
Conversely, feminism has succeeded when people stop mocking men for being supposedly useless in household matters, or natural idiots at childcare. Yes, please go on reinforcing Woman’s role as the only gender capable of order and cleanliness and, above-all, baby stuff. That seems like a great idea.
Feminism has succeeded when a man wearing a skirt is as unspectacular a sight as a woman wearing pants. Because performing what we as a culture have defined as femininity will no longer be considered degrading.
Similarly, feminism will have succeeded when women astronauts are no longer asked about how they do their hair in fucking space. Or it will have succeeded when male astronauts are asked the same kinds of questions just as often with just as much interest. Fine by me. I don’t care which option it will be.
But it’s got to be one of them.
And this is why, yes, I call myself a feminist.
Whether people — and men especially — like it or not. Which brings me to my last point.
Women Who Aren’t Feminists
When can we stop talking about feminism? We can stop talking about feminism when women can all stop trying to be cool by not being ‘feminists.’ When ‘feminist’ has in fact stopped being a bad word.
Because what the fuck are you even talking about?
You can’t seriously be ashamed of the people (men and women, for that matter) who fought for YOUR right to use birth control, to wear jeans, be considered a human being instead of someone else’s legal property, to get an education, to get a divorce for a reason other than ‘he beats the shit out of me,’ or to pick your own spouse in the first place?
But then again: feminism is giving everyone the right to be what they want to be. So go ahead women: DON’T be feminists. Because conceding you the right to choose — that, too, is feminism. Ah, the irony!
What this boils down to, though, is this: yes, everyone should be a feminist. Not because gender must matter more — because it must matter less.