And no, I’m not talking about the singer. I’m talking about the color, and I’m talking to all the feminists out there who wring their hands over the fact that they like traditionally feminine things. Inevitably, they reassure themselves that it’s okay to like feminine things and be a feminist.
I agree that you can be a feminist and still wear high heels and make-up. I love shoes and dresses and lipstick, and I’m a feminist. I’m also a lesbian, which adds another level of complexity to my love of feminine things. But please, stop posting about how you shouldn’t have to feel guilty for liking the color pink. Being a girly feminist is not revolutionary. You’re not special, and your post about how it’s okay to like pink is boring and unnecessary.
I have a big problem with these kinds of posts because they all boil down to the “I’m-a-feminist-but” formula. What does that mean? It’s when a woman says, “I’m a feminist, but I wear lipstick.” What she means is, “I’m a feminist, but I’m not butch.” She’s relying on a largely male-enforced idea that feminists are fundamentally un-feminine. They don’t wear skirts, they don’t pluck their eyebrows, and they burn their bras.
I think it’s pretty obvious that the specter here–unspoken of, but omnipresent–is the lesbian woman. Some years ago, British TV host Graham Norton was asked, “What does a lesbian look like?” He pointed to a drawing of a masculine woman with short hair and said, “That!” It’s a persistent image in the popular imagination. What is a lesbian? It’s got nothing to do with a woman’s sexual preferences. Quite simply, she’s not feminine.
I know a thousand feminine women who are feminists will fall all over themselves to deny this idea that they’re afraid of being labelled a lesbian. I don’t really care, because I do believe that the specter of the lesbian is used to scare straight women away from feminism. There is always this threat: if you’re a feminist, men won’t want you, because you’ll be perceived as masculine (in this context, interchangeable with lesbian).
But it’s my choice to like pink/lace/eyeliner! I hear these feminist women cry. Really? You were just born that way? Somehow, I doubt that. From birth, women are conditioned to like feminine things: dresses, make-up, pink. I played with Barbies and baby dolls, even though my parents wouldn’t have cared if I’d played with cars and G.I. Joe. Did I, as a five-year-old girl, make an informed decision to play with feminine things? Probably not. Of course, a grown woman is more capable of making an informed decision, but to say that the feminine woman is completely uninfluenced by society is absurd.
I take issue with choice feminism because it encourages women to not examine the choices they make. It’s not wrong for women to embrace femininity, but it is counterproductive for those women to claim that it’s entirely their choice. If a woman doesn’t present herself as feminine (and appealing to men), she is criticized and ridiculed.
Look, I’m not trying to mean. I just find it frustrating to witness young women repeating the same unproductive arguments when there are so many more pressing issues relevant to women’s lives. Let’s talk about bodily autonomy. Let’s talk about intersectionality. But for god’s sake, stop talking about the color pink.