‘Nu Feminism’ by Katie Service

Make-Up Artist, writer, beauty blogger and singer Katie Service assisted me for nearly 2 years and is now the right-hand lady to International Beauty Director of Vogue Asia Pacific, Kathy Phillips.

‘The Nu Feminism’ by Katie Service

The best thing about having a Kindle is that no one knows what you’re reading.  I was given a Kindle for Christmas and over the course of the holiday period I was able to dip in and out of the books of my choice, be it Jane Austen, Jilly Cooper or Ovid, at my discretion and without detection.

To those in my company it was unclear as to whether I was reading a steamy shower scene or a world-changing piece of oratory.  The blank back of my Kindle wasn’t going to give me away.

Secret reading – as I now call it – has become my new favorite past time and during one of them, I downloaded Caitlin Moran’s book ‘How to Be a Woman’.  For those of you who haven’t read ‘How to be a Woman’ (and you should have) I shall briefly synopsize… Caitlin recounts the worries and wonders of becoming a woman, bravely and comically dissecting her own awkward teenage years.  It is feminism in it’s funniest form – less hunger strikes and more witty quips, less angry shouting and more laugh out loud, clear as day humour that surrounds the irony of being a women in our “modern” society.

‘Uh oh. Feminism.’  I hear you smirk.  More so than other discriminations, sexual equality has become a bit of a laughing stock of late- a ridiculous unachievable filled with far too many grey areas to be believable.  Feminism is no longer chic. Why is it that women’s rights no longer bear the exciting stamp of hope?  Long gone are the golden years of shoulder pads and power suits or so it seems.


I have worked with enough strong, intelligent females from the generation above me (Kay included) to know that feminism hasn’t always been the ugly thing that many 20-something females have been brainwashed into thinking it is.  In fact, Kay said to me that she would be interested to know about feminism “from your generation’s viewpoint, easy for us gals who grew up with feminism as THE intelligent & sophisticated thing to be.”

Why is it then that young women today don’t see feminism as the elegant and, well, feminine state of mind that it really is? Why is it that we shy away from feminism – stereotyping its team members as women-who-wear-sandals-and-woolen-tights-and-have-hairy-armpits.

How can I, as a 24 year old, have had such a bypass of feminism that I have forgotten the likes of Eva Peron, the beautiful Frida Kahlo and the divinely glamorous Lee Miller? All feminists. None were the sandal wearing type.

In the past I wouldn’t consider myself a feminist.  In fact I have always said that I’m not a feminist.  I like pink.  I drink tea and enjoy knitting. I wear pretty lace dresses and want to get married to Mr Darcy – how could I be a feminist?  But the more I read through Moran’s opinions the more I realised that I kind of am a feminist after all – even though the only sandals I own are of the strappy stiletto variety.  (This can only be a good thing.)

I shan’t paraphrase Moran’s book for too long as you should read it yourself but her chapter on pornography and how its male orientated mindset is single handedly distorting the way young couples think about sex and sexual equality is particularly interesting.

Moran’s line of argument, in my own words, goes as follows-If you’re faint hearted (or my mother please stop reading now…)

The average porn video on youporn/redtube/youjizz is 6 minutes long.  This is the average time that it takes a male to ejaculate.  The time it takes for a woman to orgasm is on average at least 20 minutes longer.  Hang on a second – so does a girl have to watch at least five different Youporn videos back to back to achieve the same level of satisfaction as a man?  There’s no setting for that – I’ve checked – how unrelaxing to have to be constantly changing video whilst trying to find your inner zen! The longer videos on the site only fill time with some poor terrified looking girl awkwardly removing 16 layers of latex alone in a room.  How realistic.  How sexy.  Not.  What happened to real sex?

What Moran argues is that the global porn industry today has become warped into something unrealistic where women are merely vessels, groomed and dressed in a very unrealistic way.  The backlash has been that young women and men have found these videos to be the norm.  A 16 year old is likely to know no better than what he or she finds on the Internet. 

I have girl friends, for example, who have point blank refused to undress in front of the man of their dreams because they haven’t had a bikini wax and they are ASHAMED of their own nether regions.  They got the idea that they must be totally shaved from watching porn – or from their previous boyfriend watching porn and relating back. 

In the case of porn, the feminist solution isn’t to out right banish it.  That would be stupid and would make more enemies than friends.  That would be a very dated form of feminism.  No, it is that we need to make more porn.  More varieties of porn to give a more realistic portrayal of sex.  Keep the video of ‘Saving Ryan’s Privates’ but add to it a couple of films with designer lingerie, flattering mood lighting and better soundtracks!

It just shows that being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to wage war with the male race. (We still have to live with them after all…). Feminism can be a very subtle thing, a clever thing – as subtle as wearing comfy trousers to work on a Friday or taking up kickboxing because you like it (not just because the instructor is hot… although that’s a good reason too.) It’s telling your boyfriend that you’re working on a weekend because you love your work as opposed to as a result of lack of funding.

Perhaps feminism for you is wearing a lipstick colour because it’s an interesting shade that you spotted in a famous painting rather than because Justin Beiber’s girlfriend wears it.  As Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes said on British TV on New Year’s day “Clever is the new sexy”.

Thandie Newton talking at TED                                                Lana Del Ray.

They might think they do (they really might!), but no one really wants a dumb looking porn star for a wife.

It is my generation’s responsibility to prevent feminism from falling further out of fashion.  Let us put the sexy back in feminism!

This post was originally created for http://kaymontano.com

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One Comment

  1. Posted January 7, 2012 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Hi…Thank you for being candid about your experiences with feminism and for expressing the frustration you feel about the typical, or rather, stereotype image for the (hairy-armpitted) feminist. And thanks also for reading and quoting Moran’s topic of online sex and today’s pornography, which focuses more on men’s utilization of women as objects than equal participation/pleasurable expression.
    I think there might be a few websites out there already featuring feminist type porn and examples of women actually experiencing pleasure and arousal in film. I have seen Abby Winters’ website and I am about to order the film ‘Too much pussy” which are both examples of unabashed female sexual contentment in film or pornographically related material. The only criticism I have of this type of porn is that it is mostly lesbian or solo (i.e. masturbation) oriented – and there are FEW sites that I’ve seen which are really about a woman and a man being together in a ‘traditional’ sense, and where the women are actually receiving as much pleasure (as in real orgasm) as the men do…
    Anyway, your words are important, and expressing feminism can be done subtle or loud…
    THANKS

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