Faux-minists & the art of girl-shamingBy Courtney Burgam
Ever heard of slut-shaming? Well, meet Girl-Shaming, the newest way to make a woman feel bad about herself, but this one has something new it brings to the table. While Slut-Shaming made her feel bad about having sex, liking sex, and showing skin through the clothes she wears, Girl-Shaming makes her completely feel bad about every aspect about herself and telling her that she isn’t good enough the way she is all under the veil of Feminism. She is now shamed by those who were supposed to protect her and accept her for who she is.
My anger reaches frustrating levels at times, especially when it comes to topics such as feminism. So when I read Deborah Schoeneman’s article “Sparkly Nail Polish, Katy Perry, and Frozen Eggs: Meet the Woman-Child”, it started to anger up my blood. Even just reading the title, I knew I would be reading something that I had thought about myself ever since I began working in the corporate world. As an almost-25-year-old, I have sometimes felt like I dress too young for my age, and working in a corporate environment just exacerbates that insecurity, even if I am in a design corporate environment. Because, through the sea of khakis and plaid button-ups (the CRAZY way for a man in the corporate design industry to dress), I stick out like a sore thumb. Sitting at my desk right now, I am wearing a long white dress adorned with large pink and lilac flower. I have all-over dusty pink hair, pink tights, scrunched up socks, and roping boots on. In some ways, I am this Woman-Child, this woman who is stuck in a perpetual state of adolescence. The characteristics of this archetype of the Woman-Child are long and numerous and I may not have all the characteristics "she" has but I do have some things such as bangs, love of cats, an interest in fashion/makeup, and many more. If you would like to find out if you are a Woman-Child check out Schoeneman’s article here.
Okay, first off, what is wrong with this article is that it not only degrades the 20-somethings who enjoy fashion, cats, nail polish, hanging out with their girlfriends, etc., but it also degrades the lives of the young women that these 20-somethings are supposedly trying to emulate. It makes them feel like their interests are unimportant, that they are wrong, they need to change themselves because of the way they dress and because of their interests.
Am I going to take my future husband’s name just because I wear nail polish? Hell no. I wouldn’t take his name regardless of the paint on my fingers, the clothes on my back, or if I like cats or not. What would cause me to take his name is my understanding of equality and feminism. And what's the best part about this writer claiming I do not care for feminism because of the way I look? It's that I can argue that the reason I have taken an interest in feminism is because of my interest in fashion, just like so many of the other fashion bloggers I know. How about instead of condemning women for wearing nail polish, makeup, liking cats, wearing polka-dotted dresses, we reappropriate these things that were once considered trivial and make them something that is okay to do. Yeah, I wear nail polish BUT I still care deeply about equality, science, civil rights, getting my masters degree, etc. Making women feel bad about the interests that they believe define part of their personality and who they are is girl-shaming. And what you are doing is making a set of rules for your ideal woman to follow and that is EXACTLY what we were fighting against all those years ago. Let these women be who they want to be, but also educate them on equality. Don’t tell them how they should act. Build up their confidence with their intelligence, their talents, and their skills. And definitely do not make them feel bad because of the way they dress, it seems so counter intuative to empowering women!
You are afraid that when we are told what is a desirable trait for a woman to have, that it was made to degrade us, to take us back in time when we needed a prescription from our doctor to not have sex with our husband. No, no, no. You seem to believe being a child is a negative thing, a teenager something worse. If a woman has interests a child or teen may have, you perceive them to be a child or teen. Is a child or teen seen as an adult if they share the interests of one? I am not acting naive or stupid, I understand the importance of feminism, what women before me have gone through to make sure I had the right to vote, to wear pants, to be able to go to college, etc. What does it matter that I have glittery nails or purple hair? I do not allow men to walk over me in the office or in my personal life, I do no allow anyone to make me feel bad for being a woman, I am proud of my gender, I am a very self-confident person. So how is my love of kittens turning back the clock on feminism?
And by the logic I have deduced from that article, as soon as a teen stops being a teen meaning she is 20 or older, she is supposed to have it figured out, she is supposed to stop liking cats because she liked them as a young person. She is supposed to wear nude color nail polish AT MOST because she is no longer a teen. Only denim or slacks for this 20+ year old because tights and skirts are for little girls.
I do not want my future daughter to be relying on me, my husband, or her significant other for income, to pay the bills, to driver her around, to order her food, to cut up her steak/tofu. I want her to be independent, I want her to be inspired and ambitious, I want her to be intelligent and to do the things that make her happy. She should have an interesting personality, a passion for what she loves. I do not care if her hair is purple, blonde, ginger, rainbow, or if she wears pants or dresses. I care for her self-confidence, intelligence, education, ability to stand up for herself, and her ambition. I will not ban her from exploration or self-expression. If she feels makeup is not for her, then I will not make her feel insecure for not wearing it. If she doesn’t want to be a mother, that’s her choice. If she wants to be a doctor, a writer, or a full-time mother, that's up to her and I will not judge her for her choices. Say she decides to not go to college, I may encourage her to go, but I will not judge her and blame the nail polish on her fingers.
By the way, see the shirt in the collage? I made one, and you can too! I just went to Michael's Crafts and bought two packages of iron-on letters ($5 a piece) and purchase a plain white t-shirt from Salvation Army ($1). Once my boyfriend and I move into the house we will be renting, then we will set up our screen printing studio and I can start printing some more professional looking ones. But these iron-on letters are snazzy in their own kitschy way because the letters are velvet!!! It's extremely simple to make so I don't think doing a tutorial is necessary. Make one!!!