This is a complicated issue and I’m going to work through it as best as I can.
I think there’s this idea that feminism is a trend that goes in and out with whatever is popular- which is totally wrong. The patriarchy and the media (synonymous) will do whatever they can to have you believe that feminism is just the big thing of this year- that celebrities, politicians, and us plebeian bloggers will all get tired of and it will go out with the fall fashions. And they’re doing this the best way they know how- by selling it to you.
Things that can be purchased can be thrown away.
My first example is Unilever, the company that owns most of what is in your bathroom. It owns Dove and it’s “Real Beauty” campaign, as well as Axe and it’s ad campaign to make boys think that being clean is the ticket to some sweet vagina.
Dove is also responsible for the videos of the women who have poor self image being taught by strangers to have a better self image, even though the reason they have poor self image is probably because of the shitty ads the same company runs so that women buy products to improve their self image. They have a monopoly and create a perpetual client base.
So that’s capitalism.
My second (and bigger) point is that you cannot buy empowerment and you can’t purchase self esteem. There’s this idea floating around that wearing red lipstick is, in itself, an empowering act. And it’s just not. Wearing red lipstick/high heels/leather jacket may make you feel confident (which is awesome if you like it, not hating at all) but you must realize where it’s all coming from, which is a lot of places including:
-Hyper femininity: Makeup, heels, dresses, are traditionally feminine items that are all considered sexy because of what is alluring to men. Men are also traditionally the ones selling these items in the big picture so, capitalism full circle again.
-Role Models: Powerful women wear these things and we like emulating them because girl power.
-Sexy Aggression: I put those two words together, and I think it’s more of a feeling. Like, wearing bold makeup is daring because it says “I dare you to talk to me fuckboy.” while also “eat my ladybit while I shop Nordstrom online for pantsuits”
But the thing is that if feeling confident comes from whatever you purchase, you don’t have the power. Whatever made you want those things has the power. And I need to make it clear that I love makeup and clothes and shoes and stuff, but it took a long time and a lot of thought to realize that I love these things because it grants me the illusion of control.
So there’s this thing when women take selfies wearing red lipstick (my for all intents and purposes example) and they’re posting to instagram like “red lipstick= feminism” and I’m here like “naw, your thoughts and values> red lipstick & red lipstick =/= feminism bc red lipstick = capitalism”
I feel the need to clarify again: YOU CAN BE A FEMINIST AND WEAR RED LIPSTICK, BUT IT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO REALIZE THAT EMPOWERMENT COMES FROM YOU AND YOUR ACTIONS NOT FROM WHAT IS ON YOU.
I also feel like there’s this idea that you can morph feminism into whatever you want so you don’t need to change anything about your ideologies. And I personally don’t think that’s cool at all. I think feminism is for everyone, but there are goals that need to be met and things that need to be changed that will never ever change if you’re masturbating alone in your room and saying that you’ve met your feminism quota.(And we def talked about this in my Feminist Theories class, so if you were one of my classmates, I holla atchu.)
Like I said, this is very complicated and hugely multifaceted and there are so many factors that it would take hours and 9 other blog posts to come even close to what I really want to say.
The Oscars tonight is a really great example of what I mean. The #askhermore tag is what I am talking about- these are smart, beautiful, talented women, who are wearing gorgeous clothes but what ultimately matters is what they have to say. Which is finally getting more recognition this year.
Don’t let feminism become last year’s trend!