Choices choices choices, that’s what life is all about isn’t it? From what subjects you take in school, when or if you should have children to what you are going to eat for your lunch. Life is about making choices. Obviously, some choices are trivial and mundane but others have the power to completely change your life. Since choosing to identify openly as a feminist my life has changed, mostly for the better, but I have also gotten a fair amount of crap from people who just don’t get it (women have it all apparently). Generally, it is the people who don’t get it that put restrictions around what you can and can’t do if you are a feminist (they don’t get it and they don’t want to get it). However, there is also a great deal of judgemental and extreme feminists about who are very quick to point out when a fellow fem is doing something ‘wrong’. “But you can’t be a feminist if you…
⋆ Get rid of your body hair
⋆ Wear make up
⋆ Like men
⋆ Are Muslim and wear any one of the head or body coverings
⋆ Are in any way religious
⋆ Read cosmo or similar magazines
⋆ Love Disney movies, epic love stories or rom coms
⋆ Want to be a stay at home mother
⋆ Took your husbands last name when you got married or will take it when you do
⋆ Act in porn or do glamour modeling
⋆ Are male or transgender
⋆ Follow fashion trends
⋆ Wear high heel shoes
These are just some of the ridiculous restrictions that have been put on feminists over the years. But for now, can we just take a minute to think about what the life of a feminist would be like if they were actually stuck living within all of these limitations? It would suck, right?
Some of the items on the list you may not necessarily agree with and some you may even be ‘guilty’ of. But here’s the thing IT DOESN’T MATTER. There are much bigger things going on in the world like rape, victim blaming, female genital mutilation, the list goes on and on. So does it really matter if you love Disney movies and get rid of every last bit of body hair you have, if you are a Muslim woman who wears a hijab or you are a glamour model who took your husbands last name when you got married? If you consider yourself a feminist then in my books that makes you a feminist. Of course I know it isn’t that simple, there are certain criteria and beliefs you need to uphold in order to be a feminist; just ‘saying it’ doesn’t quite cut it (if it were that easy I would be President and a millionaire). Put simply, if you can see that men and women are not equal but want them to be and are willing to do something about it then welcome aboard!!!
Feminism bottom line is about equality but it is also about choices, that is the whole point. You don’t have to wear make up, you can keep your name if you get married, you can have a career or be a stay at home mother if you want (there is a lot of argument about the onus of childcare being solely on women and them not actually having a choice, this to a degree I believe to be true, but my point here is that nowadays women have far more options than being either a stay at home mother, a teacher, nurse or secretary but it is definitely another issue feminism needs to work on). Feminism is supposed to give women more power to choose whatever kind of lives they want. Think about it was it not restrictions being put on women in the first place that started the suffragettes and feminists movements? Pointless and trivial ‘in house’ arguments about what feminists should or shouldn’t be doing ends up keeping potential allies away from the movement and prevents the real work from getting done. At this point I would like to acknowledge that there is a problem with white privilege and racism within feminism that does need to be addressed but as race is not a choice and I am not a WOC I don’t have enough authority or experience to comment extensively on it. There are plenty of great articles online if you want to (and should) learn more.
If a person couldn’t be a feminist because they did/practiced/believed in and/or enjoyed something that had an oppressive link or patriarchal history then there would be a lot less feminists in the world. We need to respect the choices of other feminists and stop focusing on the trivial things that separate us. All over the world women are being oppressed, raped, beaten, killed, exploited, regulated, paid less and seen as second class citizens how about we come together and do something about that before judging people for their body hair, career choices or last name?