Saturday, 2 October 2010

Feminism and femininity



I’m not a feminist – or at least I don’t define myself as such – and I don’t know much about feminist theories or even the history of feminism. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some thoughts on the matter, though, and inspired by this and this post by AlreadyPretty and VulgarMoon respectively, I’d like to share them with you.

It seems to me that at times, people who define themselves as feminist declare that one thing or another is not done if you’re feminist. That by wearing high heels or dresses you conform to the expectations of the patriarchy. That by choosing to have a family over having a career, you become anti-feminist.

As I said above, I don’t know much about feminist theories or the history of feminism, but it seems to be that feminism should not be about exchanging one set of values with another. Those people preaching that only one thing is feminist and another is not are, in my opinion, doing the exact same thing that men/society/the patriarchy did to women for the longest time – imposing pre-set values on them. In my opinion, feminism is – or should be – about having a choice.

Should a woman who wants to have a family and stay at home not be allowed to do so without hearing discriminations that she is betraying feminism? Should a woman who prefers her career over starting a family not be free to do so? Why should a woman who likes wearing high heels not do so, and why should a woman who hates high heels be forced to wear them? Shouldn’t we all be free to make the choices we want, regardless of what they are?

Saying that women should choose their career over a family takes away the choice from the woman in much the same way saying that all women belong in the kitchen does. I cannot believe that should be the point. It should be about giving women choices, not about telling them which choices to make.


  1. Works like a charm.

    And I totally agree with you about this, btw (but you already knew that ;)): Feminism is about women being unconstricted and having the choice to make their own decisions. I really dislike it when people tell other people what to do, sigh.

  2. I meant to leave you a comment on this sooner. Sorry for the delay, but I've been far away from the lands of the internets for a few days.

    First of all, I whole-heartedly agree with the idea that feminism should be about allowing everybody the greatest freedom of choice possible. Your life should be what you decide to make of it — within certain limits of human decency, of course.

    But at the same time, I believe just as whole-heartedly in the right to question the choices that people make. Especially when they can cause genuine personal harm. Now, I know that's a bit of a dramatic way to talk about high heels, but wearing them for prolonged periods of time (or even occasionally, in some respects) is generally agreed to be bad for your body in any number of ways. And I'm happy to argue that they're dumb until I'm blue in the face.

    However, I would never force anybody to comply with my opinions. Just because they don't fit in with my own beliefs about feminism doesn't mean that they don't have a place in somebody else's. And I tried to emphasise that in my post, but maybe it requires further clarification.

    Basically, I believe that you've got the right to wear whatever you want, but that I've also got the right to question you for doing so. And as long as both of us can hold our ground, that's fine with me.