Recently someone posted a response to a status update on my Facebook asking if it were necessary to stop shaving my armpits in order to attend The Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington DC.
- The comment that got me thinking.
This statement says a lot. First and most obviously it says that all feminist are ‘hairy armed’. Second it implies that to be allowed admission into a feminist event one cannot fit into the current aesthetic of feminine beauty. Now, it perpetuates the concept of the “ugly feminist”. Okay I know what you’re going to say. “Just because I want to have the same equal human rights as the next fella, to be paid the same, to not have an unpaid ‘second shift’ after work, to feel my job safe if I chose to have children, to know my culture status is not at risk if I do not [etc.] Doesn’t mean I’m ugly!” And you are right. You are beautiful. Most of the men and women involved in feminism are. So, let us examine the myth of the ugly feminist and set the facts straight. Since this is my first post I’d like to start with me. I am 21 years old. I love reading, tea, coffee, art , especially printmaking. I wear dresses. I like pretty things. I wear make-up with some frequency. I like to painting my nails and I shave my pits…There’s more to me but what am I forgetting? Oh right and I AM A FEMINIST! [pardon the caps locks].
- Me. I am a feminist.
Now that’s out-of-the-way. You ask ‘What is a feminist any way?’
1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
Basically, it’s this funny idea that ladies are equal to gentlemen. We have some work to do to make sure that this idea is reflected in the law, economy and society. So, women (and men) have joined forces throughout time and have made huge strides to make everything more equal. Let’s face it- men and women are different. That’s a good thing. As time goes on and society evolves, things change. Gender roles are always in flux. There are inequalities that face us all and things that just don’t work no matter what our race, class, or gender. These issues hurt us all. It’s complex. However, we all deserve respect and we all deserve the same human rights. Feminism is a way of talking openly about these issues instead of ignoring them. Plus when we get together better things happen.
But do we still need feminism? Isn’t that, like, a 60’s thing?
So, a little background. There are three ‘waves’ of feminism: The first wave happened way before the 1960’s. These women got us the right to vote in the US. They also focused on property rights for women and they fought against “chattel marriage,” which legally allowed a man to own his wife [and children] Their main goals focused on overturning legal obstacles that stood in the way of equality. The second wave is what you’re thinking of. They did a lot of work. They had a lot of great ideas and basically shaped the way we live today. They didn’t actually burn their bras.
The movement starts with Simone de Beauvoir
and ends when Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first woman nominated to the Supreme Court with a unanimous vote by the senate. Read Gail Collins’s book
for the fullest historic overview that I know of, it’s also a fantastic and easy read.
Now the third wave. That’s where I fit in. The third wave had the realization that women come in all shades and sizes and are everywhere. We come in many colors, and from all nationalities, religions and cultural backgrounds. We “embrace contradictions and conflict, and accommodate diversity and change. There is, in this wave, no all-encompassing single feminist idea.” [1
] Which is great! And it means we all have different ideas about sexuality, the law, policy, everything—including beauty.
Some women see pin-up queen Betty Page as an iconic, beautiful, liberated women. She is to some a feminist icon. Others may disagree and say Betty Ford reigns queen over their feminist world view. Libbers may recall that Betty Friedan is the penultimate feminist ruler. These three Betty’s are totally different and give a very small sample of the varied images of women and feminists alike.
So what does a feminist look like?
Well a feminist looks just like me. They look like you, and my boyfriend, and your boyfriend and your girlfriend and your mom and her mom … Oh yeah and my Dad too.
I’d like to thank the girl who posted the comment, because it was what sparked the need more me to blog this.
Please share feminists that you find beautiful.
OR ADD YOUR PRETTY/HANDSOME/GORGEOUS FACE!
Gloria Steinem, often deemed too beautiful.
Erykah Badu, stunning black feminist.
Miranda July, Performance Artist, Musician, Writer, Actress, Film Director, Feminist
Yoko Ono & John Lennon. Both feminists!
Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Feminist
Lauryn Hill, Queen of hip hop, feminist.
Joan Jett, sexy rocker feminist.
Zora Neale Hurston, groundbreaking and beautiful.
Liz Phair, Indie Queen
Tori Amos, redheaded siren of Feminism.
Founder of Feministing, Jessica Valenti in her wedding dress looking lovely. OMG Feminists get married!