My fault I’m no feminist

by

My story isn’t so much an event in which it’s MFIF so I can’t do something. It’s more my fault I’m not a feminist.

I wear dresses and skirts, gloves, a corset and a small amount of jewelry. I am always well covered and am polite and courteous. I never swear unless I know the person I am talking to is okay with it (and even then not very often)and I enjoy cooking, sewing, singing and other ‘female’ hobbies and even a few chores. I sit with my legs crossed or together, back straight and my hands neatly folded in my lap, on a desk or however is most appropriate. I have no idea how to use power tools or fix things, I hate sports with a passion and dearly love medieval dress. I am slowly loosing weight, aiming for a 22″ waist while keeping my larger hips and breasts.

At the moment I’m hard pressed thinking up ‘unfeminine’ traits of mine. Oh wait, I hate children and chew gum. There. Two.

Sometimes I find myself receiving unwanted attention because I ‘am a perfect lady’ or am ‘encouraging sexism from males.’ So I should burp, slouch, take up sword fighting, swear, ditch the gloves, corset, dresses and skirts in favor of jeans and a shirt?
No. I will always stand up for another woman’s right to swear in public, wear short shorts, and/or be as ‘unladylike’ as they want.

To me feminism means letting women be men’s equal. If a man wants to wear a dress and enjoys cooking and sewing should we tell him to be more ‘manly’ and learn woodwork? No. So what’s wrong with a woman doing these things? I guess I have to change my whole being to fight for woman’s right to do as she pleases even though I don’t please to. I guess it’s #MFIF and can’t do as I please.

Susanna

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47 Responses to “My fault I’m no feminist”

  1. Kirsten Says:

    Aren’t you doing what you please?

  2. cassandra Says:

    I would consider myself a feminine feminist. I wear make-up and dresses very often and yet don’t think that has anything to do with wanting equality between the sexes. I wear dresses because they are comfortable and easy and make me feel good, I wear make-up because I’ve uneven skin-tone. But I think very, very much that ladies should have equality, and I don’t think I should denounce feminism because I fall under those stereotypical ‘trappings’.

    Feminism is an idea, not a kind of dress, not a group of people. When people die, an idea lives on. Please don’t let something as piddly as other people’s opinions of how you should present yourself get in the way of the idea.

  3. Alibelle Says:

    I think you need to look into feminism 101 if you think feminists in any way encourage men who are feminine to be more manly (this is what other men do because they see feminine=less) or that they would tell a woman not to dress any damn way she pleases because men might become more sexist because of it.

    However, I’m sure there have been some individual women who have said things like this, they’re wrong, but they don’t represent feminism as a whole.

    Also, you seem to be refering to a post on MFIF specifically (I may be wrong about this, it was just the impression I got) where a woman was angry her mother told her to be more lady-like. She was angry because that wasn’t her personal choice. The comments that follow also mirrored anger at these double standards and that women reinforce them and push them on other women. They never expressed anger at anyone who wanted to be very ladylike, they simply didn’t. Only one commenter who called these actions treasured keepsakes that women should still follow, and said that men don’t like “butch” women. Which also had an undercurrent of homophobia.

    This whole “Feminists hate women who are feminine” thing is a strawman that works against feminism. You say you support women who don’t act feminine, you support equal rights. So you are a feminist. I’ve never worn a flannel shirt in my life and I like “girly” clothing, and I’m a feminist. Everything about your post seems smart and feminist except it kind of seems like you’re coming to a feminist website to attack feminists in a passive-agressive way.

    • Alibelle Says:

      Though now that I think about it, it doesn’t matter. This is a rant site and you have something to rant about. I really shouldn’t have questioned that because I know there are people who get angry when women willingly dress in a feminine manner.

    • Susanna Says:

      I know that feminism as a whole is about the idea, and wearing a dress doesn’t make a difference, but maybe it’s just all the feminists in my area that feel that a feminist has to dress a certain way.

      As to the post here, when I posted this ‘Condoms for the Lady’ was the first one on the page, dunno why it took so long. But when I saw that one I felt really bad because it would look like I was offended by it (which I’m not) so I’m sorry to anyone who took it that way!

      I also don’t mean to attack feminists, just people who feel that you can be either feminist or feminine not both.

      Also it’s okay, you have every right to question, reading it back again I am very nearly out of line. Especially considering the ‘mother/daughter’ divide post.

  4. IMTB Says:

    You sound like a feminist to me!

  5. sz Says:

    I agree with your take on feminism. My aim is always to live my life how I want, not hindered by ideas – from either side – about what I should or shouldn’t do. I tend to associate the thing you’re complaining about with the older wave of feminism – but then again I don’t know how accurate that is either. But I agree – dress and do what you like, just like I do.

  6. Flutterby Says:

    Feminism is the right for women to act however they damn well please without being expected to fit into outdated social roles. You aren’t being pressured to act like that, you’re choosing to! Feminism at it’s finest!

    The women who tell you to act otherwise because your presentation is too traditional are being anti-feminist, as they’re trying to police a woman’s behavior for arbitrary reasons. It’s great that you’re embracing a more traditional role because you want to, and I salute you for it!

  7. Sparky Says:

    Did someone actually tell you to change your behavior? And if so, why do you think that that person speaks for feminism?

    I’m a feminist because I support women’s rights to participate safely and equally in whatever way they choose to, as long as they’re not hurting anyone in the process. That includes your right to dress and behave as you like. (Although I would caution you in a friendly way not to diet excessively, or invest too much of your own self-worth in your appearance–this kind of attitude makes aging very traumatic for some women.)

    If you speak up for and support women’s rights to do as they choose, you are a feminist, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just plain wrong.

    • Trix Says:

      Seconded.

      -Some- feminists like to profess that their lifestyle represents the totality of feminism, or should do, but they’re the minority. Of course, they are often the same ones the media promotes as being the voice of feminism – “you don’t want to call yourself a feminist like this harpy, DO YOU, ladies?”

      For the rest of us, feminism is about CHOICE.

  8. Kirsten Says:

    Although I wouldn’t say feminism is LETTING women be men’s equal – I’m not looking for their permission.

    • Pavlov's Cat Says:

      I rather like that point. In the history of women’s rights, references always seem to be to women being allowed things rather than no longer denied them. It’s a whole different way of thinking.

  9. yolanda Says:

    Hey, you just need to learn how to politely put forceful people in their place. Keeping a nice sweet tone, simply thank them for caring and assure them that you’re exercising your freedoms to follow your preferences. I used to run afoul of [offensive term deleted] too and learned that it’s only when you’re very young, as you age, they learn to go fight elsewhere.

    Comment edited by mod for offensive language. -B

    • CM Says:

      Oh look, the Tone Argument.

      Really Yolanda, this is not a site to come into uninformed on feminism 101.

      Telling the OP “how to” anything is policing her behaviour, which is the exact opposite of what she is posting about.

    • CM Says:

      Also, the term “feminazis” is extremely offensive. It is wrong to equate activism looking for equal rights to an opressive, genocidal regime.

  10. Sophia Says:

    The problem with seeing feminism as being equal to men – as bell hooks so clearly pointed out – is “which men?” Do we really want to equal to the powerful wealthy privileged men? To the men of color who do stoop labor in much of the western world? Which men?

  11. Clare Says:

    My own personal understanding of the notions of feminism is this:

    Feminism is about allowing women to be as individual as men (generally) are. I recall a cartoon with the two panels: one is of a man/boy who gets a maths problem wrong and the other person says ‘wow, you’re not good at maths’, while the second panel is exactly the same except that the person not good at maths is a woman/girl, so the other person says ‘wow, girls aren’t good at maths’. It’s the fight against that lumping in of everyone who happens to fit a certain classification (and therefore becomes a much bigger fight for a wider freedom for everyone, which is why woman-on-woman sexism, or racism or trans-hate and so on within feminism is so heart-breaking to me).

    Feminism is, or SHOULD BE, the quest/fight for the freedom for every woman to be exactly who she chooses to be. If that means you wear dresses and like sewing, then I say: ROCK ON. If it means for someone else that they wear army boots, or flipflops, or go barefoot, then I say: ROCK ON.

    It’s about being taken as an individual, whoever the frell you are.

    So I say to the OP personally: ROCK ON. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

  12. JR Says:

    Trust me, you’re a feminist. And I think you have a fair point. I used to go to university with a very unenlightened woman who believed that because I sometimes wore tops which, shockingly, showed my shoulders and some cleavage I was in some way the Anti-Feminist. This woman also refused to vote for a woman in the student elections for the sole reason that she wore a vest top in her promotional photo and therefore ‘wasn’t likely to be as clever or take the job as seriously’ as a woman who wore a buttoned up cardigan in hers. And this woman genuinely believed herself to be a feminist and felt that Vest Top Candidate and myself were ‘letting the side down’.

    I think the problem is that too many people, men and women, have a skewed understanding of the concept of feminism based on long running preconceptions and stereotypes. Most men I know, and several of the women, consider feminists to be man-hating women with buzzcuts and dungarees. Of course, some feminists do wear this sort of outfit and there’s no problem with that. It’s damn well their right to do so just as it’s my right to wear makeup and the OP’s right to wear her corset. But this stereotype has left many women who ARE feminists afraid to admit to it for fear of being considered ‘unfeminine’. How ridiculous and how damaging.

  13. CM Says:

    Welcome to the site poster 🙂 You have the main tenet of feminism down pat – owning your choice.

    You can be whoever you want to be, and anyone telling you different doesn’t full understand feminism.

  14. Marie Says:

    I hope you don’t mind but this does seem feminist, albeit of the queer variety. I don’t have much source material on the subject in english that isn’t brainpsraining, but if you look up some key words like performativity and drag, or explanations of Judith Butler, you might find some ammo for arguments.

    • CM Says:

      The term “queer” refers to GLBT. To call the poster’s feminism “queer” is to attempt to label her as gay (she made no reference to that, nor is being queer wrong), or call her assessment of feminism wrong.

      She is not wrong. She can approach her rights however she chooses.

      • Alibelle Says:

        I’m unsure, but I think she was saying queer as in GLBT and not as in “weird.” She mentions drag, which is what makes me think that she’s talking about queer men and female dress and how it has to do with feminine being seen as less and queer men being seen as feminine and owning that by dressing in drag. It wasn’t a very clear post, but I don’t think she was saying the OP was wrong.

      • CM Says:

        Mmkay Alibelle, if they were calling the poster queer as in lesbian…ummm why? In no way does the OP reference Susanna’s sexuality, or how that would effect how she dresses.

      • Alibelle Says:

        Yeah, I don’t see her calling the OP a lesbian at all. Like at all, not even a little tiny itsy bit. I think, and this was simply my interpretation of the comment, that Marie was saying that it was feminist in way that the queer community might be feminist. Like their personal activism is, not that the OP was queer. I’m not even saying she’s right about it, just that I read it that way.

      • Marie Says:

        I’m of course referring to queer in academical terms. Butler and other theorists don’t just talk about sexuality, but also about how we construct, subvert or raise awareness of gender through dress and behaviour. From the poster’s description, i got the (perhaps wrong) idea that her dress and conduct is a concious thing. In that case a little knowledge in these theories could be argument gold.

      • Adrienne Says:

        Although Marie and H (and others?) already spoke about it, queer theory is definitely a concept that while beginning in certain LGBT and feminist studies is a much different beast. Queer theory in way too simplistic terms is an area of studies that reacts against identity politics (the idea is that using a “natural” identity or an essentialist identity in order to gain acceptance into mainstream society could possibly further continue the damage and essentualism that is partially responsible for the marginilization in the first place). Queer theory strongly tries to stand against the mainstream and yes- one of the pillars of queer theory is the performative nature of gender and sexuality. I’m a little doubtful that the original poster’s actions would be considered queer… although I absolutely get why it seems to be circling in that arena. Heh… off track. Anyway, queer theory uses queer to refer to activities or “identities” that are deviant. A question I’ve discussed before about queer theory is if someone can be queer without that being their intent. And I think this can be asked of being feminist too. Can we (and/or should we) label a person as feminist if they have not taken on that consciously themselves? Is it better to speak about feminist actions?

        I’ve also met too many women that did not want to call themselves feminist not because of the problems of feminism (of which there are many but hey feminism does try to react and evolve) but because they swallow all the negative things associated with feminists. “I don’t wanna be a bitchy, picks on everything, ugly man-hater.” I also don’t think that all feminism is about “choice.” Hard to talk about choice when we don’t live in a vacuum in which choice can be so easily made, understood, and talked about. I think lots of feminism goes way above and beyond the concept that women should have a choice to be what they want to be.

    • H Says:

      I agree, Marie. When I dress up in pretty dresses and heels and the rest, it’s always in the knowledge that what I’m producing is something of a caricature, something a bit camp. Camp and queer aren’t just to do with being gay, they’re also about an attitude towards your performed identity. I’m not sure how relevant this will be to the OP, or whether she had thought of her behaviour in this way before, but she might find it interesting to look into theories of performance.

  15. D Says:

    Your arguments sound very feminist to me.

    One thing that concerns me as a feminist is that “feminine” traits and interests are treated as inferior, which seems to be what you’re ranting about. The idea that someone (male or female) has to be stereotypically masculine to be taken seriously is sexist. In my experience, most feminists are more likely to be concerned about the pressure women receive regarding how to look or act than what women themselves want and like.

    I’m sorry people have been rude to you.

  16. Uly Says:

    I’m sorry ignorant people have been making you feel bad.

    As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not trying to make me live by your choices, and not trying to restrict my freedom, and you honestly believe men and women should have equal rights and privileges etc. etc. etc. then you’re a feminist.

    The people deriding your choices are rude, and ignorant, and they’re not any more feminist than thou – no matter WHAT they think.

  17. JuneBug86 Says:

    Susanna,

    Your ideas of what is “feminine” are social constructs, not actual traits that females are born with and meant to have. However, you are correct that feminism is the belief that women and men are equal. The beauty of that definition is that any type of woman, girly or tomboy, can be a feminist.

    However, I do find it sad that you feel you have to have Barbie’s figure to be feminine. I would have to remove half my rib cage to have a 22 inch waist even at my thinnest weight. If that is your belief though, then more power to you.

  18. CH Says:

    I completely support your right to act as you please, and I actually believe its really important to include all women with their own versions of femininity in the feminist movement.

    Certain behaviors or types of work have been devalued throughout history simply because women dominate them. Often the example used (I don’t remember the specifics) if of two similar villages, one where the women raise crop a and the men crop b and the other where the women raise crop b and the men raise crop a. In both villages, whatever crop the women raise brings in less pay and less respect because simply because it is women’s work. Part of the problem is not only women’s lack of access to opportunities dominated by men, but the devaluing of what they themselves do.

    A classmate of mine had a similar experience, she was engaged throughout her senior year of college, and was going to be married at 22. She said she faced more criticism than she expected from female professors who thought she was putting her life on hold for a man. It’s frustrating that for someone who understands gender issues and has made an educated and well thought out choice personal choice to be criticized for their dedication to equality.

    I agree with a few of the other commentators though about trying to maintain such a thin figure. I have written a few papers on beauty standards and from what I understand, your body size really doesn’t vary greatly unless drastic measures, often detrimental to your mental and physical health. I have had four very close friends struggle with ED’s/body image issues and would hate for someone else to follow this path. I in no way mean to imply this disqualifies you as the feminist you are, but please be careful.

  19. J Says:

    I’m a little confused. Because you like things that are considered traditionally and stereotypically feminine, you’re not a feminist? Is that what you think or is that what others think?

    I don’t think people should think less of or more of a woman that’s traditionally and stereotypically feminine. It should be seen as just part of someone’s personality and likes. “Feminine” traits shouldn’t be thought of as a negative thing, but they also shouldn’t be pushed on women to be the ideal.

    I have some very stereotypical girly traits, and I’m totally a feminist.

  20. yourbirdcansing88 Says:

    You sound like a feminist to me. You support individuals’ rights to express themselves however they please without having social pressures shaming them into acting “appropriately” according to their gender. And you, too, seem to express yourself in a very feminine manner not because anyone says you “should”, but because that’s who you are. True feminism does not mean rejecting feminine behavior if that’s how you personally prefer to act. Feminism is against the idea that women “should” act one way or another merely because they are women, and to put you down for being “too feminine” would actually be a very anti-feminist thing to do.

  21. suzbomb Says:

    Hey, I definitely agree that the OP may be working from some badly stereotyped mainstream understandings of what “feminism” is, but I’d also like to point out that we should respect the rights of individuals to choose to NOT self-identify with a label.

    I think it’s well-meaning, but not necessarily considerate to tell someone “You believe x, y, and z? Yup, you are totally a feminist,” when there are also people who believe x, y, and z and actively choose not to identify as “feminist”. I think respect for self-identification definitely applies.

    • jesurgislac Says:

      Yeah, but… defining yourself as “not a feminist” because of your clothes?

      The OP has a perfect right to rant about whoever it was (she doesn’t mention) told her she wasn’t feminist because of what she was wearing.

      But I can’t take seriously anyone who says “Oh, I like mini-skirts, so I can’t be a feminist: you can be a feminist, you wear jeans.”

      My jeans are not feminist. My right to wear them is.

    • Jessica Says:

      You’re a feminist if you believe in the rights of women, in equality.

      Denying you are one can be a bit like saying ‘I’m not an atheist but I definitely don’t think there are any higher powers.’

      • suzbomb Says:

        While I agree someone who believes in the rights of women is holding feminist ideals, there are certainly people who actively choose to avoid the label of “feminist” because of the ways that feminism has historically and still in contemporary settings has failed many women (e.g., women of colour, poor women, trans women, disabled women).

        There are people who hold what are mostly considered to be feminist ideals, but refuse the self-identification of “feminist” because of problematic attitudes that have persisted through the movement. For instance, as a way to deal with this, the term “womanism” has been used to describe the experiences and perspectives of women of colour.

        I respect the choices of these individuals to dis-identify with the feminist movement, and respect their decisions not to self-identify, even if I believe that all of their ideals are what I would personally call “feminist” in myself.

      • Jessica Says:

        Somehow I doubt the OP calls themselves a womanist either, though…

        I know too many straight white girls who say ‘I’m not a feminist, but…’ not because they feel the movement’s failed WOC or LBT women, but because they’re afraid to identify with that cartoon of a feminist that pop culture has sold us – the one who doesn’t shave her armpits and hates men and so on… it really bugs me.

  22. Clarisinda Says:

    Like everyone else, I agree that dressing and acting in a feminine way is in no way at odds with being a feminist. I think where it stops being feminist is if you are using your feminine looks/behaviour and fluttering your eyelashes in the hope that men will play the traditional masculine role and, well, pay for stuff – from buying you a drink to paying your rent. I don’t think someone can claim they are all for equality whilst simultaneously milking the traditional gender roles that *do* benefit them, and not be a hypocrite.

    Not that I’m saying the OP is doing that (nothing her post suggests she is) but I think this is why some people are suspicious of someone who calls themselves a feminist yet to their eyes appears to be playing a traditional feminine role.

    • CM Says:

      Nope, engaging in a traditional role is a choice as well. A woman is perfectly entitled to do that, and it is not our place to police her behaviour.

      • Clarisinda Says:

        I didn’t say anyone should police anyone’s behaviour. I said that it is hypocritical to on the one hand for a woman to call herself a feminist and demand equal treatment/pay to men, while on the other making the most of the few benefits of a patriarchal society- i.e. expecting men to treat her chivalrously/paying for stuff because of her gender.

  23. Brie B. Says:

    There is a perception of feminism as self-loathing, devaluing things that are seen as “female” in order to attain the greater respect that comes with “maleness”. While this does happen, it is certainly not the goal of feminism; rather, it is due to the influence of the culture by which we are, to some degree or another, bound — after all, which seems like an easier way, as a woman, to gain the same respect a man gets: change the dominant culture and worldview so that people believe that you’re intelligent and capable regardless of whether you’re wearing heels and pearls, or cut your hair short and throw on jeans and a sports bra?

    There is a case to be made that corsets, high heels and makeup and such are tools of the patriarchy, being as their point is to increase women’s visual appeal at the expense of comfort and utility, but if men were seen by the culture at large as equally entitled to wear them, then it would lose that implication. It’s just a garment, we add the cultural baggage.

    So, in summary: the fact that you’re annoyed that you get less respect because you engage in traditionally feminine activities to the exclusion of traditionally masculine ones, means you’re a feminist. Even if the people giving you crap about it say they’re feminists, too.

  24. Meg Says:

    My definition of feminism has two components. The first is that women be treated equally to how men are treated. The second is that women be allowed to live as they please. I have every intention of being a stay-at-home mom if I am able. This doesn’t mean I think this is what women are “supposed to” do, it just happens to be what *I* want to do, and even so, I am in college working toward my computer science degree (not looking forward to the sexism I’ll likely face in that field). What disgusts me, as a feminist, is someone who expects a woman to stay at home and do things that are “lady-like” just because she is a woman. Women who do these things of their own free will are exercising their freedom, just as I want all women to be able to do.

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