I have some guilty pleasures, pleasures for which I no longer wish to feel guilt…I love thinking about my future wedding. I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to it. I also love reading style and beauty blogs.
I’ve been embarrassed about these things for a long time. I feel like, because I’m interested in them, I’m somehow not being a good feminist. I sometimes think that taking time to learn about new ways to braid my hair or thinking about first dance songs is taking away from the time I could be spending smashing the patriarchy. And technically it is, but I think it’s okay that I don’t spend all of time on patriarchy smashing. I’m allowed to have multiple interests, and I’m not less of a feminist for having them.
It’s really problematic to assume that there are good feminists and bad feminists. I know this idea can be perpetuated by both men and women, but today I’m going to focus on women because I hear it from them more.
Women shouldn’t be working against each other and picking out each other’s flaws. A big part of feminism is pushing back against gender stereotypes, against the people and institutions that say women need to do one thing while men need to do another. It’s important that we fight gender stereotypes, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing if women (or men) do things that have been traditionally considered female (or male) things. To me, feminism is not about eschewing every single “traditional” gender role; it’s about getting rid of the absolute mindset that assumes the traditional roles are all that is available or are somehow better.
I think that it’s completely okay for people to still participate in behaviors that are considered typical for their gender. But I think it’s also important that people are (a) not insisting that everyone else participate in that particular behavior, (b) insisting that this behavior is tied directly to their gender identity, and (c) doing some critical thinking about why they’re doing what they’re doing.
It’s been important for me to occasionally stop and think about why I want to wear makeup. Why is it so important that I leave the house with crap on my eyes? It’s not because that’s what girls do. My simple answer is that I think I look better with it on. But why do I think I look better when my eyes are “more defined”? Because I’ve been told that that looks better than my natural face. Whose ideals am I trying to live up to?
I still think it’s fun to put on makeup and curl my hair, but I’m working on being more confident sans eye garbage so that I don’t feel bad about myself when I have days like today, when I have to leave early and would rather sleep longer than take time to smear stuff on my face.
I still enjoy looking at wedding dresses and thinking about playlists. This doesn’t make me any less of a feminist. On the flip side, it also doesn’t make me more of a woman than someone who doesn’t care about planning a wedding.
In short, criticizing other women for liking traditionally feminine things is not cool. There are so many more productive ways to spend one’s time. Like smashing the patriarchy, for example. Instead of tearing other women down (something I plan to write an entire post about because it’s something I really struggle with), we need to work together and focus our energy on creating a better, more equal world.
And really, if you’re calling someone a bad feminist, maybe you are, in fact, the bad feminist ;).