Guess who’s back. Back again. The renegade master! Bet that went a different direction than y’all were expecting. *cough* Anyway. Apologies for the absence. My raging social life got in the way. It won’t happen again, I promise.
I’m just going to come out and say it. It’s hard being a 21st Century feminist sometimes. We live in a patriarchy, though we try to combat this. However, patriarchy is, much like many other ruling systems, an ideology. It operates invisibly, as it is so embedded in our minds and our culture.
And then feminism comes along. Feminism is a lens through which we can assess and deconstruct those structures that were put in place by da malez. Feminism lets you see the need for feminism. Yet, much like when you discover that those jokes you never got in The Simpsons were dirty and you feel your childhood indefinitely ruined, feminism can ruin things for you. And rightly so. When the veil of patriarchy is lifted and you see the world for how it actually is, it’s pretty shit.
So, where does that leave us? Us 2016 women have many more luxuries than women before us. With the heavy onset of Third-Wave Feminism, it sort of feels like the list of things we shouldn’t like/enjoy seems to be getting longer. There are so many things that we take part in daily, without thinking, that not only play into the deeply-rooted patriarchy of our society, but that may also be reductive and regressive for us.
There are many things feminists still struggle to correlate. Therefore, I find myself asking the question, am I still a feminist if….
I like fashion?
A few nights ago, the Oscars were on and meme generators everywhere lost one of their most stable memes; Leo and his ever-elusive Oscar. I was watching the Snapchat story of Irish author Louise O’Neill (if you haven’t heard of her, go find her and read her stuff. NOW. And then come back to this post), where she was discussing this. Does it make us less of a feminist if we enjoy shopping and fashion? She argues that no, there’s nothing wrong with it, if you merely comment on the fashion itself, and not the women or men wearing the fashion. I had never thought of it like that before, and I find myself agreeing with her. There are so many times when I look at red carpet pictures, and when I see a dress I don’t like, it’s because “it does nothing for her”, or something along those lines. I admit that, for me, the lines between the dress and the woman wearing it were heavily blurred in my eyes. But to equate a woman and what she wears, is reducing said woman to a piece of fabric. Louise, in her Snapchat story, reminded us of the pressures for women to conform to an ideal beauty. By commenting on the woman’s body shape underneath the expensive gown, I wasn’t talking fashion. I was talking about the woman’s body, and weight, and just perpetuating the un-achieveable, yet standard beauty ideal that has been set for us. Once we realise that fashion does not equal women, but that it equals beautiful pieces of clothes through designers and artists express themselves, dresses too gorgeous to comprehend, or getting your nails done (which is half the reason this post is taking so goddamn long to write), I don’t think it should take away from your stance as a feminist.
I want to be proposed to?
I wrote about this the other day, in honour of Feburary 29th, and I ended up discussing it with two girls the next day in college. Am I still a feminist if I want to be proposed to? In my post, I argued that the general understanding of men being the proposers only enhances the archaic relationship structures that are still in play today. However, I do not begrudge women for not proposing, or even wanting to be proposed to… because I am one of them. Many girls grow up surrounded by the idea of being proposed to by your bae, down on one knee, with a huge rock to weigh down your hand. Can you really blame us? That image was everywhere growing up, and it still is. I still agree with my latest post. Women should be able to propose to her partner if she wishes to, without the need for a specific day every four years. Yet, I don’t feel that, as a feminist, I should propose purely because I am feminist, if I don’t want to. What is important is that we are aware of these constructed gender roles that have remained with us to this day.
I like when my boyfriend is chivalrous?
Much of the feminist movement is about deconstructing the harmful images and gender roles women are placed under. However we can’t deny that men are subject to this too. For almost as long as women have been put under the Madonna/Whore dichotomy, men have been pressured to remain … men. To be masculine, strong, protective, a gentleman. And you know what… I like it when my boyfriend is masculine. I like it when he puts his arm around me, or insists on picking me up from somewhere, or even just generally being manly. I have no shame in that. But does that make me a bad feminist if I enjoy that? For I am celebrating him engaging in the constructed gender roles for his gender, the very thing I fight to change for mine. Am I being totally regressive and reductive by allowing him to be chivalrous to me? By letting him do these things, am I no better than Rapunzel, sitting in her tower? I think the difference is, I do not ask him to do these things. They are merely small things he does that I appreciate, but do not request from him. If I were to force him to pay for dinner, or hold every door open for me, and give out when he doesn’t, that would be a different story. I do not hold him hostage to these ideals, and he knows this. We are in a relationship of equals, and we do not hold each other to any certain standard. (And to be honest, I think he enjoys doing those small things for me, as I enjoy him doing them.)
I don’t see any gender inequality in my world?
In many anti-feminism articles I have read, one of the reasons why the author declares themselves not a feminist, is because they do not see, or have not experienced inequality in their world because of their gender. Which is a round-about way of them burying their head in the sand. Just because you haven’t seen it, does not mean it doesn’t exist. I don’t work, bar two small Christmas jobs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe that there isn’t a gender pay gap. My experience may not be the same as someone else’s. It may not be as big, or as traumatic. But that doesn’t take away from me being a feminist. You don’t have to see a dog being cruelly tortured in front of your eyes to know animal cruelty still exists. You can’t ignore the need for something, just because you haven’t had direct experience with it. Just like how there is a strive now to make sure feminism is inclusive, this is a sort of weird opposite of exclusive feminism. By denouncing feminists, you are merely deflecting the problem to other people, because you may not want to deal with it. So while I may have only had the seemingly obligatory ass-grabs in a club, and only yesterday was “fuck you!” yelled at me from a car of teenage boys who drove past me at the bus stop, that doesn’t make me any less of a feminist.
While there are the basic requirements for being a feminist, if we were to begrudge females these small pleasures purely because they are the product of a patriarchal society, the Third-Wave would have very few members. What’s the harm in letting a man open a door for you every once in a while, if he and you know you are in a relationship of equals? These things may be part of the problem, but part of the solution is just breaking down those barriers, and knowing that some things are purely a societal construction. This gives you the freedom to subvert these tendencies, as you know they are constructed, and can be deconstructed, and as a feminist, I hope I will.