Am I A Feminist Or Not? You Tell Me

Woman in Water by Ton Haex on Flickr

Woman in Water by Ton Haex on Flickr

I’m not sure what it means to be a feminist anymore.  With all the good and bad that’s happened since the first suffragettes took up the fight, I’m not sure if wearing lipstick is a call to arms or a betrayal of everything we stand for.  I know I try my best every day, I know some days can feel like a prizefight, and I know I make compromises that I don’t always feel comfortable making.  I know I think about what makeup I’ll put on based on what I’ve got to deal with during the day.  I know I think about what to wear because I need a feminine look to counteract my aggressive demeanor.  I know I think every day about how people will perceive me as a woman, and what impact that will have on my job, and I tailor my appearance accordingly.  I don’t know if that’s a step forward or a step back.  What I know is that I’m a woman, I believe in what I’m doing, and I try to do the right thing both as a woman and as a professional.  Does anyone else wonder if you can do both?

There’s been a sort of Mad Men effect on women’s fashion and beauty in the past few years, and I think there’s been a Mad Men effect on the perception of women in general as well.  You might think I mean that women are seen as more submissive because of this, but I don’t.  I think (and have mercy because I don’t have a television, so I’m going by what people say) that seeing women confronted with starker examples of sexism than the more subtle forms we deal with today has advanced the feminist cause by showing that we face a real struggle.  It was clearer when men swilled liquor and puffed on cigars, but it’s still there, and you can hear echoes from the show in office halls and boardrooms today.  For instance, any woman who works in a male-dominated profession knows that acting confident is going to get you labeled as a bitch.  It doesn’t matter that it isn’t true.  What matters is that, when you beat a man, that’s the easiest road for him to take to try to bring you down.  People who are worth beating don’t say things like that, but statistically speaking, the people who say things like that are the ones you’re most likely to beat, so you have to get used to it.  But let me say it here, so there’s no mistake:  IT ISN’T TRUE.

Some days, I acknowledge, I’m a bitch.  Some days I’m your best friend.  Sometimes I watch sad movies just so I can cry at them, and sometimes I pick a fight because it’s been too quiet and I want to make things interesting.  I’m a woman.  I’m a professional.  I’m a feminist, and I’m feminine.  I’m every bit as good as you are, and if you underestimate me, I’ll grab you by the neck and wipe the floor with your face, so why don’t you just try me and see if I’m bluffing.  I’ll do it in lipstick and heels, because I like to look good when I kick ass, and I’ll do it in a poufy skirt because I think they’re pretty.  I’ll do it in front of your girlfriend because she might as well find out now.  I’ll do it in front of your friends so they’ll think twice before they start anything with me.  I’ll do it because I want to, because it makes me happy, because it’s who I am.  Don’t think for a second that I’ll hesitate to do it because someone else won’t like it.  I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I’m telling you:  I get the best results when I act like what I am.  A woman, a person, a fighter.  Me.

Cripple Barbie

this is a picture of my Barbie doll

Picture of a Barbie doll (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was playing with a friend’s kid the other day.  She’s awesome and smart and cute and funny, but she likes to play with Barbies.  She’s like I was at her age, though; she likes to shave their heads and pull off their arms and leave them lying naked and mutilated all around the house, so that’s all right.  She also likes to dress up Ken in Barbie’s clothes (which will only go on him if you leave them unbuttoned, if you’re curious), which is a refinement of the art that was lost on the pre-teen Little Blind Girl.  I was impressed.

She also likes to use props meant for other games and appropriate them for Barbie.  One of the props she reassigned this time around was a wheelchair; Barbie had gotten in a car accident driving her convertible after taking her “evening soothers” (don’t ask) and had to trade in four wheels for two and kick it in a wheelchair for a while.  This was fine until she got to her Dream House…and the wheelchair wouldn’t go in the door.

That’s right:  Barbie’s Dream House is not handicapped-accessible.  The imperfectly abled may not pass the threshold of Barbie’s home.  Gimps and cripples must sleep outside.  I was appalled at this message of intolerance and indifference to suffering that surrounds our children, insidiously infiltrating their still-forming minds and imparting a lasting disregard for the rights of others. We must stand up against this atrocity!  Well, not Barbie, because she’s now enfeebled, but the rest of us must stand up!

And then I remembered that, if Barbie were a real person, her height would be 7’2, her weight would be 101 pounds, her bust would be 39FF, and both her head and her waist would be 19″ around, and I was like, screw it.  Barbie can gimp it on the streets.  I’m done wheeling her bony butt around.  How’s that for a life lesson?