Shoes, Shaving and Feminism.
They coexist! January is well behind us so our local gyms have given up on bombarding us with newsletters to get us working on a beach body but shedding winter clothes is always a cue for endless talks on how to best get rid of body hair. For us this means time to discuss feminism. Look, our trend reports will never be about your bikini line. Whether you like a mighty bush or prefer a Brazilian, a Hollywood or some other weird location to inspire your private bits - it’s up to you. We’d like to think the world has come far enough to allow a woman to make that decision on her own. The hair or bare discussion isn’t all that important to us. To us, this isn’t what feminism is about. You know how the first computers were literally the size of a room? We could bet there isn’t a single person in their right mind that still believes this is the case. Yet the idea of feminism as a bunch of angry women with hairy armpits is still here. Time to get over that perhaps? Those bra burning women gave us a right to vote, they left behind a legacy. We salute them all, however, we are not them. We like short skirts and high heels (duh) and sometimes find body hair super annoying. This isn’t anything revolutionary. If someone tells you that being a feminist means you can’t be feminine, you’re probably having a conversation with an idiot. Step along.
I personally spent a lot of time struggling to admit that I’m a feminist because of that. I said I was an individualist, that I stood for equality, that gender played no role in my eyes. Eventually I realised that’s pretty much the definition of feminism. The only thing that was missing was the courage to say it. It’s the fear of that stereotype; the fear of narrow-minded people pointing their fingers at me, telling me I’m ugly or worthless and that somehow this will make me less of a woman. Now it just seems sad. What’s even more sad is that there is still a huge number of women out there who feel the same way. The opposite are the people that slap the label onto everything. A TV show about women? Why it must be feminist! Actually, not necessarily. Sex and the City may have opened a dialogue but it’s still a show about infantile women with daddy issues and lust for expensive things. It shows successful women but even that exists purely on an idea level because all we ever see is a group of thirty something singles obsessing about guys. Everyone does that, or at least has at some point in their life, but ultimately this is a stereotype. The show wasn’t feminism, it was entertainment. This isn’t to say everything needs to have a deeper philosophical meaning but sometimes it’s worth taking things at face value. We wouldn’t call Cosmo mag a feminist almanac because it would kinda defeat the purpose, you know?
Male feminists have a place on this scale too, and turns out men that want to support women in our fight for equality also have issues. Last week a male student wrote in the Guardian
about the reception he receives when calling himself a male feminist. Men laugh and some women, worryingly we might add, don’t think a man could really support the movement. The idea of supporting feminism being emasculating in any way is awful. Of course women denying men the right to be feminist is even more awful because by doing so we are excluding them for our fight. If our fight is for equality, what’s the message we are sending out? We’re saying men can’t be compassionate, that weren't not fighting for women but against men. That actually we’re not at all that equal but rather that women are better.
That's feeding the stereotype we want gone. Cliches sometimes exist for a reason but this is so much wider than just one group of women. One hackneyed opinion shouldn't apply to all of us. There is no mythical sisterhood of lesbians with shaved heads and uptight spinsters wearing woolly jumpers. Not all feminists look the same or even think the same. Some might think that by selling high heeled shoes Miista conforms to beauty standards set by the patriarchy. It's okay because there is no one way of looking at things. Maybe there are people that use feminism as a shield for their hatred of men but don't hold it against all of us. The one thing to unite all feminists is that we believe in equality. Most of us aren't planning to use flamethrowers to achieve it.
Cover image by Nick Thomm