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is feminism still a dirty word?

June 16, 2010

Okay, I’m no bra-burner. I like a guy to open doors for me, I like them to do the disgusting jobs that I don’t want to do, and I like to be treated well. Truth is, I’m a total little girl who just wants to be looked after. And sometimes I play on it. But to be honest, I would definitely consider myself to be a feminist, or at least, I’m interested in feminism.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot recently. I enjoy reading feminist perspectives on different things. Right now I’m really interested in feminism in popular culture and I’m considering writing my dissertation for American Studies on something along those lines. I’m taking a course in feminism next year.

But am I a contradiction? Does an interest in fashion argue for a world where women should be dressed up as dolls and look perfect all the time and only be interested in shopping and clothes? I hope not. Because as far as I’m considered I fit into both categories. Just because I wear makeup and high heels and try to look good it doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset and offended when the boys at work describe me as “like a cheerleader. you’re pretty but you’re useless.”

I still demand the right to be paid the same as a man, and more to the point, be employed in the same jobs as a man. I have been asked several times what I would do if a man asked me to be his wife, look good on his arm and he’d pay for me to go shopping every day. I replied that that would be my idea of hell. Recently I’ve become quite annoyed by the perception of me as “useless” just because I’m girly, into fashion and I conform to society’s ideals of attractiveness. Which I am keen to point out is a recent thing. I was never a pretty child or young teenager and I always felt a need to prove myself to be funny or smart or good at things otherwise people didn’t give me the time of day. I refuse to accept that just because I am “pretty” now I no longer have a purpose.

I find feminism very interesting. I am intrigued by theories and ideas. I bought a few books on feminism yesterday to prepare myself for my module next year and for my dissertation, and so far am really enjoying a book called Living Dolls by Natasha Walter. I’ve only read the first chapter so far but I have a feeling I’m going to find it very interesting.

I am a feminist, to some extent, but I am still very much a girl, and a girly girl at that. Yes, I enjoyed makeup and shopping, my sport of choice is dancing and I’m probably one of the least competitive people you will ever meet. But I dress up and look good for me, not for anyone else. I refuse to be objectified and while I often make sexual jokes and enjoy talking about sex, I can be a bit prudish in my ideals and morals. I will not become just a sex object. I am not a bra-burner or a lesbian or anything else that comes into the bracket of “feminist”. I just believe in the rights of women and am interested in our roles in society and how they are portrayed in popular culture. So far I’m just really enjoying learning more about feminism.

I do think sometimes men are better at some jobs than women, and often women are better at other jobs than men. My ideas on feminism are only just forming, so I’ll keep you updated on how I get on with my reading and research. As always, this is just a musing about what I think. It is in no way structured or an argument or anything more than my own thoughts on the page.

What do you think? Are you interested in feminism? Are you a feminist?

I’m really interested to hear what you have to say :]]]

Charlotte xxx

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2010 14:42

    I consider myself a feminist. But I do feel like a contradiction because of some of my interests. Yet, I prefer to be independent and not rely on men in a traditional sense. I wasn’t so much apart of a traditional patriarchal family and that’s not what I see for myself in the future. Part of this comes from viewing past relationships in my family and how the abusive relationship my mom tolerated with my dad. Since those experiences from my childhood, I refuse to let anyone make decisions for me and I have zero tolerance for men who try to exercise too much control over my life. For me, it comes down to me being completely independent and making my own decisions. I can have an interest in fashion and clothes because that’s what makes me happy, not what popular culture tells me I should be interested in.

  2. June 16, 2010 16:35

    You made some great points about feminism. I feel the same way, I am very much a girly girl yet at the same time I am a feminist. I think that anyone can be a femnist (so yes even guys can be) if they believe in womens rights and equality for all. One of my biggest problems is that people think just because I am interested in fashion I am not interested in anything else and also that people think feminism and fashion don’t go together. However, these people are so very wrong. Fashion is a way for women to feel liberated and in fact throughout history it has been used to progress these ideas (such as when women started wearing pants which was a huge deal!). I think its great that you are continuing to read up on feminism, I am doing the same thing! Oh, and when you get a chance I cant wait to read the magazine article… Thanks! 🙂

  3. June 16, 2010 23:10

    I always disagree that women were clothes so they look good for men- “If women wanted to look good for men, they’d walk around naked all the time.”

  4. June 18, 2010 17:07

    I am on the fence with feminism. Sometimes I’m all for it; other times I’m completely old-fashioned. :/

  5. June 23, 2010 21:32

    It’s a tough thing to balance and unfortunately, I don’t really have any answers. I think that fashion’s relationship to feminism is particularly interesting. On one hand, the industry is oppressive to women in the standards that it promotes. On the other hand, it’s empowering because it’s an industry in which women can be enormously successful. Then there’s the whole question of whether the clothing is oppressive or whether women choose to wear it. Of course that’s oversimplifying it and like you, I am still learning about feminism.

    Personally, I don’t think that there is such thing as a “perfect” feminist, but I also think that feminism encompasses a lot more than people realize.

    Anyway, if you don’t read it already, I would check out Jezebel (www.jezebel.com). It’s a really good resource for contemporary feminist issues.

    -Simone

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