Why we should stop caring if women don’t identify as feminists

No, don’t worry – I’m not talking about the god-awful abomination that is Women Against Feminism.

I’m talking about journalists’ tendency to pop the feminism question to every female celebrity they encounter. It seems we come down like a proverbial ton of bricks on any woman who, despite engaging in acts of female empowerment, doesn’t carry the label – while men are praised for expressing any variation of ‘I don’t support inequality’.

Why are there lists titled ’10 Celebrities Who Say They Aren’t Feminists’, where the celebrities are all female – yet there is abundant praise for men who say anything even vaguely pro-equality? Why is it so difficult to find lists of male celebrities who don’t identify with feminism, yet there are articles all over the internet bursting with non-feminist females? It strikes me as highly ironic that the minute a female celebrity – feminist or not – does something the media deem misogynistic, she is subjected to ongoing waves of criticism for weeks, while her male counterparts face little consequence. Has the feminism question actually become another way of criticising women?  Read More »

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On Being A Skinny Girl: My Experience with Body Image and Thin Privilege

As a woman, I face a lot of stress about the way that I look, particularly how much I weigh. I’ve been trained from an early age to feel like most of my value comes from being thin and pretty, and even though I’ve spent a lot of time intentionally unlearning those kinds of thoughts I still feel haunted by the feeling that I’m not good enough if I’m not skinny enough. Most women are made to feel like they should take up as little space as possible, and that the best way to gain attention from men and respect from women is to be thin. However, even though much of my concern with being thin comes from the oppression of sexism, many of those feelings also come from my privilege as a thin person. I’m terrified to gain weight because there are very real societal and interpersonal privileges I’ve always had as a thin person. I’ve always been thin, but I recently lost significant weight and became skinny. It’s hard for me to admit this, but I’ve been scared to gain any of it back because I don’t want to face how people would think of me and treat me if I became fat- I recently realized that that fear is how I know that thin privilege exists. (The term “fat” is preferred by many fat activists over “overweight” because it furthers the fat acceptance movement by “normalizing the neutrality and/or positivity of ‘fat’”.)

As a social justice activist, I understand the emotional, psychological, physical, and economic injustice that fat folks face on a daily basis, but I’ve only recently started to acknowledge my privilege as a thin person and to hold myself accountable for my own oppression of fat folks. My perpetuation of fat phobia comes from my own insecurity and body image issues as a woman. For example, I remember an instance when I was skimming through photos online of a guy I had just started dating, and when I found pictures of him and his ex-girlfriend I started comparing myself to her. (Disclaimer: I’m way not proud.) In response to my anxiety, my friend said something about how I didn’t have to worry about her because she looked fat and I was way skinnier and prettier than her. I knew it was a super out of line thing for her to say and that she was being fat phobic in an effort to make me feel better, but the thing is, it did make me feel better. I know that I have power from being thin, and I chose to use that power in this situation to make myself feel more secure about my new relationship. This power brought itself to my attention again recently: I gained some temporary weight quickly a couple months ago when I was prescribed steroids for a sinus infection, and I was so afraid of feeling unattractive that I started asking my boyfriend multiple times a day if I looked fat, desperately hoping that the answer was “no”. I did these things to hold onto my privilege because it’s been so ingrained in me that I’m worth more skinny than I am fat.  Read More »

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An Open Letter to Facebook, re: Violence against Women

I am the Communications Assistant for a non-profit organization[1] that promotes literacy and women’s rights worldwide, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Right now, we are in the midst of a social media campaign that encourages people to speak about what education means to them.

Recently, I posted a photo of a Pakistani woman, displaying her answer to the campaign written in Urdu. And the post had a great response: several of our followers and supporters liked it, and a few commented with their own reasons that education was important to them. But, one comment stood out to me.

“Yes, but she’s a slut lol,” commented a male user.[2] I instantly hid the comment from other viewers, but I was furious. He doesn’t know her. He knows nothing about her. But she’s a woman, so naturally, she must be a slut. Right?

But it was more than just that. This comment made me get that feeling: the feeling that I get when men watch you, sexualizing you with their eyes; or when they accidentally bump into you so that their hands conveniently make their way to your chest; or when they follow you for longer than necessary while you’re walking home alone. And I know that not all men are like this. In fact, most men are not. But, #YesAllWomen have to live with the men who are. And even though the comment wasn’t made on my photo, it was still directed at me: because it was directed at all women.  Read More »

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Pinned to “Girls Night Ideas” on Pinterest

antidaterapepolish

Wow, what a fun idea! Can’t wait to get the girls together.

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Stop with the Entitlement

“You seem a bit preoccupied,” he tried to whisper into my ear while we were dancing. He reached for my hands, trying to pull them toward his neck and show me where they belonged. But, instead I pulled them away. “Come on,” he called after me, rolling his eyes because I had had enough of his forceful advances, sleazy comments, and sense of entitlement. “What’s your problem?”

Perhaps I should have just led with “I have a boyfriend.” After all, other men seem to respect my boyfriend well enough to lay off of the sexual advances. Or, at least more than they respect my insistence of “no,” or “I’m not interested.” But I didn’t. Because “I have a boyfriend” isn’t the point. The point is that you should respect me.

We were wearing little black dresses, decked out in hot pink boas, sashes that read Team Bride, and bright red lipstick. And we were loving it. Our best friend was about to get married, and this was our final celebration together: just the ladies. But leave it to a bunch of horny, intoxicated, and overly confident males to try to ruin it.  Read More »

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