Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

April 10, 2012

My So-Called Feminist Eureka

Last month on Twitter, reader Leah Gates asked me to share my Feminist Eureka moment on the tumblr blog The Eureka Moment.

I didn’t have a eureka moment per se.

I never had that cinematic money shot where I jumped on my desk in the middle of my social studies exam and suddenly declared “This is patriarchal hegemonic bulls**t of the most rank and venomous order and, as God as my witness, this misogynistic outrage shall not stand!

After all, I was popular and being Popular While Fat, especially in high school was radical enough. I didn’t want to ruin my chances at Prom Queen.

The truth was, and still is,  I’m a pretty girly girl on the outside and my highly-polished candy shell has served me well.

It’s not fake.

I point that out because  we’ve all run into sugar-coated vipers from time to time — in the South their distinctive hiss is, of course, blessherheart— but I believe for every poisonous powder puff there are a dozen women just like me, whose almost cartoonish femininity is just one letter in their persona’s alphabet soup.

It has always been thus.

I loved classic movies as a kid.

I still do, but as pretty as Audrey Hepburn looked in all her Givenchy frocks, I never related to the easily-digestible non-threatening Professional Naif. Where were the female rugged individualists with opinions and guns to back them up? Except Annie Oakley from Annie Get Your Gun. Screw that trick-shooting traitor.

Sure, I wanted to DRESS like Holly Golightly but I wanted to BE The Duke.

And as much as I wanted it, I knew it was out of reach and it was out of reach because the Rules were Different For Girls.

I didn’t even know what the rules were.

I knew they didn’t involve  pushing for the front of the line or trying out a new and exciting dirty words only to have it excused away with the mysterious “boys will be boys“.

I knew it involved being a Nice Girl, since the worst thing in the world –with repercussions so terrible I never exactly found out what they were– was to have your name whispered along with the pointedly capitalized phrase “Not a Nice Girl”.

Nice girls did (or more often didn’t) do this, that or the other thing and the finishing school finish line always kept moving.

I was walking a moving tightrope just to make sure I didn’t fall into perdition before the training wheels fell off my bra and yet somehow when my brother acted up it was —say it with me now— “Boys will be boys“.

Sure he got punished –I still can’t believe he thought making pornographic calls to 911 from a payphone and then hanging around the phone after was a good idea– but for he was punished his actions, not as a judgment against his character.

He had to worry about grounding, about spankings and demerits, but I’m pretty darn sure no one ever told him he’d end up alone, unloved and surrounded by cats unless he had gleaming bouncy hair, inoffensive opinions and a stomach that curved in instead of pooching out.

In fact, I suspect if someone had told him that, he probably would’ve nodded his seven year-old head seriously, sworn to walk the straight and narrow forever and then shrug the whole thing off as ridiculous and proceed to do what he damn well pleased.

I was 17 before I realized rebellion, either oblique or acute, was an option for girls.

It would be five more years before I started saying “no” to menial gender-based assignments and another five before I understood wanting freedom from being treated involuntarily like a publicly-held commodity in which all people everywhere own shares is not sociopathic entitlement: It’s a basic human right.

My brother figured that out at seven.

So no, I didn’t really have a “feminist eureka” moment.

I am a work in progress, and like many women who’ve grown up in the comparatively calm waters of passive third-wave feminism, the recent “War on Women” (because yeah, that’s new) has been an unpleasant wake-up call to necessary activism.

I’m interested in hearing the stories of other women. Did you have an easily traced Feminist Eureka or did it comes in drips and drabs, like me? Maybe you’re still waiting. Either way, put it in the comments.

As an aside, Hot Latin Boy’s workplace offers free birth control to employees and their partners –not just spouses– and most of my friends here were genuinely surprised that was not the case in the United States, since it’s seemingly standard practice in their culturally Roman Catholic developing third world nation. Interesting, no?


  1. When I was 6, I was told that I could join the softball team if I wanted. But I was confused, the boys in my class already had a very successful baseball team. Why was I playing this other sport called softball?

    I’m not saying softball isn’t hard, because goodness knows, I can’t play it. But at 6 my reaction to being told I had to play a different sport than the boys got to play was easily summed up as “Fuck that.” Sadly I didn’t have quite the vocabulary then, but they never managed to make me play softball.

    Comment by Shinobi — April 10, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

  2. don’t know if it could be described as a eureka moment, but when I realized I had to do outside chores on the farm the same as the boys and then the inside chores too (they didn’t have to do cooking, laundry and housework…it was women’s work), I decided that the double standard sucked, and I would do everything I could to have the kind of power over my life, actions, and Word that men enjoyed… I just went about it quietly until I got out from under the thumb of my parents (as any sensible pro-survivalist would).

    Comment by Velia — April 10, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  3. Yeah, but “culturally Roman Catholic” glosses over a whole hell of a lot of conflict between the church and the state in Mexico (and Latin America more generally). I mean, we’re talking about a country where priests have been executed for being priests within the last 100 years. Not to mention the intersections between poverty and government support for contraceptives. Just saying.

    Comment by Julie — April 10, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  4. I was raised by a feminist mother so a lot of consciousness was already there as a child. I do remember a flash, though, in grad school, after reading John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing.” I felt like I had my eyes open to the male gaze for the first time in my life. I realized that a lot of the way I dressed and carried myself was designed to present myself as attractive but not in overtly sexual way in order to avoid that gaze. I think it’s around then that I finally became comfortable calling myself a feminist.

    Comment by jamy — April 10, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

  5. It always annoyed me that my mother signed my tests in second grade “Mrs. Wm. Prick” and I made her stop and start signing them “Karen Prick”.

    Plus, I hated when Ricky Ricardo threatened to spank Lucy, as if she were a child. So I was maybe seven or eight when I started sniffing out the sexist bullcrap.

    Comment by harri p. — April 10, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  6. My Eureka moment came when I was in high school. One of my church acquaintances was showing pictures of herself and a boy at a dance: standard tuxedo-and-crinoline-in-front-of-a-backdrop sort of thing. She made the comment, “He’s nothing special but he has the most amazing CAR!” I remember having a knee-jerk reaction of “If the car’s so important to you, get a job and buy your own.” It seemed ludicrous to me that a girl revered for her quote-Christian-Virtues-unquote was selling herself out to a guy she didn’t admire for a ride in his hot car.

    Comment by Karen — April 10, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  7. Early indoctrination. My mother worked at the Pentagon during WWII and was fired after the war so men could have a job. She was NOT HAPPY.

    My dad had a strong mother and 6 very strong sisters He wasn’t about to let anybody tell me I was less than any boy – including my 3 brothers.

    I wasn’t allowed to watch Lucy (I’d backhand him into next week if he talked to me like that), or Jackie Gleason (don’t you EVER let a man raise a hand to you). Mom did like Bewitched tho and Endora’s utter disdain for both both Darrin and for Samantha’s ‘lifestyle choices.’ Bewitched gave me an early love for gay men and chiffon.

    So I’m a girly girl who tells men “Look, I won’t tell HR what you said, but I will beat you up in the parking lot and take your lunch money”

    Comment by Thea — April 10, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

  8. I became a feminist upon reading The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes. ( a terrific book from waaaay back in the day) where the male bunnies all laugh at the little single mother bunny who dreams of becoming the Easter Bunny. And then she kicks bunny a** and BECOMES the Easter Bunny hellz to the yeah and rocks out at it.

    Endora is one of my role models. Uncle Arthur, too.

    Comment by Lisa from SoCal — April 10, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

  9. Baseball really seems to start some issues in girls, doesn’t it? I had a school-memories book, where you put your first-grade picture on this page and your second-grade pic on the next page…Every couple of years it asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Under BOYS it said Baseball Player, Astronaut, etc and under GIRLS it said Nurse, Mommy, etc. I knew I never wanted to be a Mommy (still don’t) and I thought why can’t I play baseball? I’m as good as those other boys. This was in the 70s even, when we were free to be you and me.

    Comment by Rachel of Cyberia — April 10, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

  10. When I was one of the only girls in my Engineering class was probably close to it. Lots of people were “shocked” that by that, “why don’t you be a nice girl and be a nurse like your mom”. Because I like figuring out how things are put together and drafting and solving technical problems more than I liked blood and sick people (no way I could handle it! – more power to nurses!). And most of the time, when I was engineering, I could wear dresses and have a manicure, be girly and still have a nice paycheck and I was still a nice girl (well, most of the time…)

    Comment by Kathleen O'Brien — April 10, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

  11. I’ve never really thought of myself as “feminist,” (and don’t jump on my case, please). I’m not much for labels, or politics as such. But I’ve always done managed to do whatever the heck I wanted, pretty much. Though in some ways a “girly girl,” I’ve managed over the last 25 years to carve a career and be successful in an almost entirely male field. I thank my parents for that (they never told me I couldn’t)…and perhaps my own stubbornness, who knows? Certainly, I’ve never liked being told no. And I have worked hard. My paternal grandmother was an influence as well. Widowed in the early 1940s, she uprooted herself and five kids from the farm and got a job in an oil refinery laboratory, where she worked for 35 years. (She got the job because she was good at math–this was in the days where all the calculations were done by hand.) I think someone might have told her she “couldn’t,” I don’t know, but she did it anyway.

    Comment by Leigh Ann — April 10, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

  12. I think mine came right around the time I was wearing GI Joe t-shirts and jeans with a frilly white pinafore (a la Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden) when I was five and people didn’t “get it”. I was constantly reminded that people didn’t “get it” when I wore Doc Martens with Laura Ashley dresses and played pickup football games in ’em too. People still don’t “get it” when I say I’m a death metal fan and obsessed with nail polish. But, hell, I exist to let people know what’s going on.

    Comment by Sarahbellum — April 10, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

  13. I am so excited about this post!!! And I think all the feminist eureka moments in the comments are TOTALLY AMAZING. I hope you will all consider submitting your stories to our tumblr project–you can include a picture or not, put your text on an image or just as a caption, or just write out your story like Plumcake has done. Heck, just copy and paste your comments, or give me permission to do so and let me know how you’d like it to be attributed.

    SO. GREAT.

    Comment by Leah Gates — April 10, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

  14. I was a Barbie loving child of the 80s so “We girls can do anything like Barbie!” was kind of my theme song. I internalized the idea that I could do ANYTHING and that was kind of my feminist a-ha moment. (Of all the catalysts!) And because of that, from a very young age, there were so many moments where I realized that I was not allowed to do everything and anything and boys were and I definitely rebelled against it. Honestly, my very conservative mother still marvels at how I came to be this way. Blame it on Matel.

    Comment by Kate K — April 10, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  15. Just lost a comment so this will be quick:

    My experience was the opposite of yours, Plum – I was raised by a father who wanted boys, and have been slowly finding my way back to “what girls do”. You have to understand the rules if you want to know what it means to break them.

    It’s been confusing: there are a lot of “girl rules” that I’ve discovered by error, like a bridesmaid’s invitation is just a formality (not a question), and dating a friend’s ex is anathema, even if she gave you permission beforehand, because you’re not supposed to ask.

    The most disappointing legacy of this upbringing is a generalized contempt for other women. By first grade, I was already the only girl willing to compete for top grades and sports glory, and that remained pretty much the norm through high school. I don’t understand Kate’s body self-hatred (from April 3rd) because “pretty” isn’t part of my self-conception. It’s good to be strong, but it’s also lonely.

    Comment by X — April 10, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

  16. I don’t remember my first feminist eureka moment, but I know of one that was early, and it had something to do with being compared to a cousin who dutifully cooked, cleaned, and polished alongside her mother. I remember the conversation involved me, my brother, my mother, and my cousin’s mother, and it went something like this: “Why can’t you be as good as Ada (this was the cousin’s name, and she was, at that point, a whole year older than I was. I was six)? At first I wondered what good there was to be gained from it, since I’m sure Ada wanted to be playing with me and my brother instead of rustling up some coffee and cookies to bring out to company. Then I realized no one was asking my brother why he wasn’t as “good as Ada”, and no one was training him to be the butler when my parents entertained. So, wtf?

    Generally it was pretty easy to see the bias everywhere, and I could tell everyone saw it and those who gained from it didn’t want that playing field leveled out at all.

    Comment by ChaChaHeels — April 11, 2012 @ 7:19 am

  17. Mine mostly came in bits and pieces, but one experience that was crystal clear and an absolutely defining moment was when my I got some old pictures in their original frames from my paternal grandparents. I was looking at them and how the frame was put together to see if I could get them out in order to better preserve them and/or clean the frames. My maternal grandmother, a woman who spent my entire childhood telling me that women didn’t need men and that men just wanted to keep women down (which I don’t necessarily believe, but that’s another rant) told me “Oh no…don’t do that! You’ll ruin them. You should call (ex-boyfriend). He’ll know what to do.” Now, ex-boyfriend is a nice person and all, but he’s the subscription manager for a small campus magazine and an alcoholic stoner with no experience in archiving or antiques. Turns out, all you need for preserving pictures is a penis. Who knew?

    There are more, obviously, but I remember that one so clearly. It was one of those “click” moments for me.

    Comment by laura512 — April 11, 2012 @ 8:53 am

  18. Uncle Arthur! Doctor Bombay! And Endora…well, the genius of Agnes Morehead goes without saying.

    I kind of agree that I didn’t have a “Eureka” moment. All the women in my family have always worked with the men. I remember my grandmother re-roofing a house (along with my grandpa and uncles) when I was a kid. She was badass. But then she also went inside and made lunch and cleaned up afterward too. So yeah, totes not fair.

    I also remember as a child of 8 or 9 getting a book from the library about the differences between how girls were treated and how boys were treated. But I also remember that I already had some inkling that things were Not Fair, and that book kind of cemented it. “Why are the aisles in the toy store with the trucks called Boys Aisles and the aisles with dolls called Girls Aisles? Why didn’t I see commercials on TV of boys playing with dolls?” I think that really opened my eyes to what was happening.

    Comment by Orora — April 11, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  19. >>I wasn’t allowed to watch Lucy (I’d backhand him into next week if he talked to me like that), or Jackie Gleason (don’t you EVER let a man raise a hand to you).

    Oh, I have to defend The Honeymooners. Ralph did always threaten Alice, but it wasn’t serious, and she always gave as good as she got. Alice never did the whiny tears thing that Lucy did. It was a totally different dynamic.

    Anyway, I’ve always been a feminist. Always. My parents told me anything a boy could do a girl could do. And I’m raising my kids the same way.

    Comment by harri p. — April 11, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  20. I’m younger then most of the commenters here, I think (based on pop culture references mentioned). I didn’t really have a eureka moment either– but I grew up with my aunt the engineer and my mother who got her masters before my dad did, and I was encouraged by both my parents into pursuing my interest in maths and science and the like. (And now I am continuing the family tradition of engineers by being a software engineer.)

    As re: the Girls Rules, I admit to being totally baffled by them until about high school, when I started to read manners books and have more formal social engagements that I was required to attend. (I think my grandmother’s funeral started off the manners book kick– I wanted all the information I could get about what was to be expected at the funeral.) Now, somehow, I’ve turned into the person my friends turn to to have social conventions, mostly fashion, explained– and how to break them, either gently or in a more blatant manner.

    Comment by ananas — April 11, 2012 @ 11:51 am

  21. I was a tom-boy early on and the majority of my playmates were neighborhood boys. One of the first times we play ‘army’ one of the older boys told me I had to be a nurse because I was a girl. I responded that I would be the nurse/assassin if that was the case. Everyone agreed that was much cooler. And I refused to ‘stay in the hospital’, and acted more as a medic, running on to the ‘battlefield’ to patch people up.

    Not a complete rejection of labeling and cultural restrictions, but I tended to push at the constraints from the get go.

    And similar to Kathleen and Leigh, the cultural restrictions weren’t really there from my parents, and I ended up in a male dominated field because math wasn’t hard and I was encouraged in that direction.

    Comment by jojo.k — April 11, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  22. I was the opposite. I was brought up being told I could be anything I wanted. But the hidden subtext was as long as I wanted to be a scientist, doctor, engineer, whatever science / math wise, I could do that. But I couldn’t be a housewife or mother or artist. When I was about 5 years old, my answer would be I just want to be a happy person. That didn’t get me very far. So whenever anyone asked, I would say a teacher because it was a safe answer. Sigh.

    Comment by Hester — April 11, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  23. If I had a true Eureka! moment it would be in the third grade when I was held in at lunch to work on my handwriting (which was pretty awful) but the boys with handwriting as bad or worse than mine weren’t.

    It’s interesting to look back on because my teacher (who I loved then and still love) thought of herself as a die-hard feminist from the old bra-buring days but she didn’t really notice the double standard until I pointed it out to her. I still had to do it, but at least I had the satisfaction of occupying the high moral ground. Sometimes that was all I needed. I also started learning how to type that summer- which I think was my Mom’s response to the problem.

    Comment by Ellen W. — April 11, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  24. I’m still having the eureka moments on a regular basis. Even reading these posts, it’s so clear that so many of us as women still believe that being feminist means valuing masculine things over feminine things. Like Hester said: feel free to be anything you want to be, as long as its not a mother or an artist, because all us liberated ladies frown on that kind of stuff.

    I know it is not true of the vast majority of feminists who devote all their scholarly and creative activity to reminding the world of the true, uncounted value of what’s considered “womanly”–being a mother, ending the devaluation of women’s bodies and images in the media, reminding people to realize the value of all the unpaid work that women do (like housework, childcare and education, emotional work that keeps relationships that are vital to all our existences alive). But I also know that when most women think “feminist”, they think it’s somehow less of an accomplishment to be a woman if you value what’s considered “woman’s work” enough to be proud of doing it.

    Since feminists have filled countless libraries all over the world in an effort to analyze why our cultures still nurture this kind of misogyny, I have to wonder why it is that we who call ourselves feminist still opt to value the traditionally masculinist attributes (masculine “science and maths” over feminine “language and creative skills”, for example, a false “difference” example if one ever existed) over the feminine. We’re still buying into patriarchy, we still buy into misogyny when we exercise that kind of value judgment, when we agree it’s far more “impressive” to be a nuclear scientist than it is to teach a toddler how to speak or play catch or wash his or her hands before a meal. We still value men over women when we call a woman who performs in a film an “actor” and not an “actress”, because we somehow feel the feminine form of the word diminishes the accomplishment (but really all we do is make all the women who act invisible). I’m including myself in this line of thinking, so please don’t take this post in the wrong way.

    Yup, that was long, but it was my eureka moment for the day.

    Comment by ChaChaHeels — April 12, 2012 @ 8:08 am

  25. I am the only girl in a family of boys raised on Marine Bases. My Dad is a retired Navy Chaplain and my Mom was/is a housewife. One would think, based on this information that I would have grown up with a whole mess of preconceived notions of what was girly and what was boyish. You’d be wrong. My parents worked really hard to insure that chores were divided fairly- I had to do yard work and car work and the boys had to do housework. My brothers are all adept at laundry, dishes, dusting and cooking and I can change a tire faster than they can. My parents also instilled a sense of proper etiquette and style- we all know how to dress for any event and which fork is used for what course… My Dad was gone, a lot, keeping the world safe for democracy, so my Mom was left to do all of it without help from my Dad, and we were often stationed states or Countries away from family members. My Mom did it all- dishes, auto care, yard care, appliance care. She never put up with us saying “that’s a boy’s job” or “That’s for girls” She used to say the only thing that woman could do that men couldn’t was carry and deliver a baby. She framed it in a way, that made me think that women had the advantage. She would get upset with the military wives (when I was growing up, there were very few military husbands)would fold when their husbands went away.

    There was a time when I wore jeans to church because we were leaving for a ski trip right after church. Someone told my Mom that they thought it was inappropriate for me to be in Jeans and in church. My Mom asked this person if she felt it was inappropriate for my brothers to also be in jeans. The woman said no, of course not, because they are boys. My Mom replied that if it was good for the boys, it was good for the girls. I think that was my Eureka Moment for my feminism… If it was good for the boys, then it was good for the girls.

    I have to say, all those lessons rubbed off- I have a brother who is a stay at home dad, I am climbing the corporate ladder, and another brother who works on human right issues for the county he lives in. All in all, the lessons that my parents taught by firmly believing we are all equal and capable have served us well.

    I think I was lucky to have

    Comment by Kimks — April 12, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  26. Well I’m of the 2nd wave of feminist and it hasn’t been pretty.

    My mother’s family had two generations of suffragettes and who believed women need college educations (I’m the 4th generation). I’m am a 4th generation engineer from my fathers side. I had two sets of incredibly supportive grandparents who said I could be anything and actively encouraged me.

    Home was a battleground between a dad who believed I should be quiet, submissive, do as I’m told girl and a mother who thought I should be allowed to study math, science, etc if I was good at it but I must not voice a differing opinion from the “men” in the household. So I was shown the whole double standard early and often in terms of my bothers and myself. Recognition of the issue was probably age 4.

    I identified myself as a feminist by age 10. I was the only girl in physics and calculus classes in high school (graduating class was 1,800). There was 12 undergrad girls out of 800+ in my college engineering school and sexism was rampant there (ie councilors asking why a pretty girl like me wanted to be an engineer, college profs stating women did not have the mental capacities to do the work, profs asking me for dates while I took their class, etc.). I’m fairly girly but I cut off my hair and dress androgynous for 3 1/2 yrs in order to get through school and be treated as an equal (ie if I wasn’t as sexually attractive I might be smart enough to do team projects with).

    When I graduated Dec 85 and started interviewing in the early spring, I was told during interviews more than once “Why does a pretty thing like you want to work with computers? Why aren’t you engaged or married?” or worse.

    When I was in a Fortune 30 in the late 80s, there was at least an HR department that helped but there was a very hard glass because it was assumed all women wound leave, have babies, and then would not be dedicated workers. The two promotions I received there were due to working 4 times harder than my male counterparts AND fulfilling equal opportunity employment quotas.

    When I did start ups in the 90s I was always the first woman hired in the 5 companies I worked for – it was not easy.

    I have seen my particular field become more sexist in the past 7-10 years and it angers and saddens me. I am very good at what I do but it gets a bit tiring dealing with this bullsh** that should have gone by the waste-side decades ago.

    And yes the “War on Women” is real…

    (Note: As I said in Thea’s comment: Most people don’t know the word suffragette was an insult, the diminutive and cutesy -ette ending was added to be dismissive of the little ladies with all those kooky ideas in their tiny female brains. Women who fought for the vote –like your pal Plummy’s great-grandmother– were suffragists. She’d horsewhip anyone who called her a “suffragette.” There was nothing cutesy or diminutive about the suffrage movement. –ed.)

    Comment by txbunny — April 12, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

  27. Ways of Seeing! Yes! Yes! I was on an exchange program in London my junior year of college and we read that book. I remember my mouth literally falling open in realization.

    Comment by missm — April 12, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

  28. Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes for FTMFW!

    Also, I read The Handmaid’s Tale on a long plane trip ca. age 11 in 1988. That about did it for me.

    I was also the only first year in my high school history class to argue it would be better to be a woman in Sparta than in Athens because in Sparta you were in charge of your household. And you could have your name on your tombstone if you died in childbirth, because it was like falling in battle.

    In Athens you were married at 13 treated like an incubator and not let out of the house, unless you were a high-class courtesan. (I wish I thought to say my preferences were: courtesan, Spartan, Athenian housewife. That would have waked Sr. Mary Ferocious right up.)

    Comment by AnthroK8 — April 12, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  29. @X said “You have to understand the rules if you want to know what it means to break them.”

    I started opened calling myself a feminist when I first started reading about the suffragette movement of the 1800s and early 1900s, as well as the early birth control movement.

    I work in a male dominated field, but I realized that didn’t just happen because of my mad skills, but because a whole lot of women fought hard so that I could have that opportunity, along with the right to vote, own my own business or property, have my own bank account. Every one of those rights came after a lot of battles and court cases and women who were willing to take a stand…I figured I owed those women that much respect.

    (Note: Most people don’t know the word suffragette was an insult, the diminutive and cutesy -ette ending was added to be dismissive of the little ladies with all those kooky ideas in their tiny female brains. Women who fought for the vote –like your pal Plummy’s great-grandmother– were suffragists. She’d horsewhip anyone who called her a “suffragette.” There was nothing cutesy or diminutive about the suffrage movement. –ed.)

    Comment by Thea — April 12, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  30. I did not know that and I will use the correct version in future. Thanks Plummy!

    Comment by Thea — April 12, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  31. Thanks Plummy for the correct term.

    @Thea – Like you I am also very grateful to the women who worked/protested/took a stand so I can vote, own property, work in any profession I want, and live independently today.

    @ChaChaHeels – I view every single one of those skills you listed as valuable regardless of the gender performing them. I just happen to naturally be really good with computers and especially hardware. My problem was that I had to disregard my own femininity in order to be successful to get through college. I immediately returned to my girly self afterwards – not always an advantage in my profession but I refused to be anything less than my true self at that point.

    Comment by txbunny — April 12, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

  32. It’s really, really hard for me to use the word “feminist” to describe myself in my culture (conservative Christian) because of the associations that it carries for those people, although I agree with Plumcake’s post of today that it shouldn’t have to carry those connotations.

    I don’t think I have had a eureka so much as a slow awakening, from completely sharing the views of my culture on the “evils” of feminism, to now a weird hybrid view where I believe very strongly in both the fundamental differences between men and women (including some restrictions of roles) AND in the absolutely undeniable sameness in worth and value of men and women in the eyes of God; “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (I really don’t want to debate any of these things right now, this is just my story, thanks)

    I think I started becoming more aware as I moved out of my childhood bubble of a really awesome family and home environment where my value as a girl was never, ever questioned into the broader world where in both secular and Christian settings I saw women being dismissed or objectified.

    The other day I just about popped a blood vessel driving past a motorcycle shop where my husband and I have shopped before, seeing the shop van’s wrap of a larger-than-life bikini-clad busty blond perching on a bike. My husband didn’t quite understand why I was so upset (kept asking questions about whether I would be equally offended by using men’s bodies in advertising) until I told him, “Look, they are saying that all a woman is in the world of motorcycles is an accessory. I don’t want to shop there with you if all I’m allowed to be is your “b*tch on the back.” Then I came home and read this and thinking about it, yeah, I guess I am a feminist (in my way) after all.

    Comment by KESW — April 12, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  33. @KESW You would have some interesting/fun conversations with the bada*s nuns on the campus where I work. Christianity and feminism have some interesting intersections, and more of them than I think a lot of us typically think exist.

    Comment by AnthroK8 — April 12, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

  34. I have really ambiguous feelings about feminism – mostly as the label it is. On the one hand, I remember as a little girl running rampant and my grandmother telling me that little ladies didn’t do that. And I didn’t want to be a lady when I grew up, which practically gave her an attack of the vapors.

    Also, I’m Catholic, too, and have no problems whatsoever with the Church’s stance on women, conception, marriage, vocations, etc, etc. Basically I see women and men as complementary but totally 100% equal in their value as human beings. So the whole “you can do whatever you want as long as it’s math/science/kick ass, girl power!!!” really irks me. I am so NOT a girly girl, I am wry and sarcastic and if you had to sum up my personal style in one word it would be “casual” (or: slob). Yet I am an RN, a mom, a wife, and my favorite things to do are cooking, sewing, knitting, embroidery, reading… You’d have to look hard to get more “feminine” than that. It doesn’t bother me that those are considered feminine things, but it pisses me off that society values those things less than, say, rocket science, and that I make substantially less saving people’s lives than some clown designing computer games for a living.

    Comment by Rebekka — April 13, 2012 @ 2:37 am

  35. @txbunny: Exactly. We all “had to downplay/be ashamed of/look down on” all that is considered feminine in our society and world because that is how the patriarchal world works. And if we’re going to be women in that world, we strongly feel we have to internalize that misogyny. Or risk being defined by it. And so we all do. But we don’t get that we’re still defined by it anyway.

    Valuing all that unpaid labour and vital contribution doesn’t equal “that is all you will value in the world, and therefore must do”. It doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your own passions (hell, all that unpaid labour we devalue as “women’s work” is precisely what allows us to pursue our own goals). It’s just so sad that we don’t see how far we’re set back when we internalize that shit, because as long as we keep doing it, no matter what it is we choose to do it will be devalued, simply because we are women.

    That’s why “suffrage” is a noble goal, enlightened and just, when it’s taken on by “suffragists”; but when its taken on by suffragettes, it’s laughable and must be stopped.

    Comment by ChaChaHeels — April 13, 2012 @ 7:59 am

  36. I hope better late than never… Early on when I started school, likely 1st or 2nd grade, my mother sat me down and explained to me that some people believed that boys were stronger and smarter than girls and she didn’t want me to be surprised if someone suggested that to me. She didn’t say that it was wrong for people to feel that way (which looking back now is a little suprising but she came from a fairly old fashioned family) and that people who felt that women were just as capable as men were feminists. I went to school and looked around. At recess most of the boys in my class could run faster than I did, but the fastest kid was a girl, and the only kid slower than me was a boy, so the idea that boys were more physically gifted was clearly bunk. During class I looked around and sure as heck none of the boys were smarter than me and it would have been pretty generous to say that one of two might have been as smart as I was, so clearly boys weren’t automatically smarter than girls. So before I had any idea there was a backlash or that some might not think it a good thing to be, I logically deduced that I was a feminist.

    Comment by Sara Darling — April 15, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

  37. Not a feminist. Never have been and don’t like feminism in any of the forms with which I have been acquainted. I am obviously in favor of the dignity of women as human beings being recognized and appreciated, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t differences between men and women – fundamental and important ones, that contribute to the value and dignity of EACH gender, and are often recognized in cultural and social roles that, while not intrinsically necessary, show an appropriate appreciation of those intrinsic differences.

    Oh, also: women (and men, whatever stripe of feminists and/or other sort of lefties) who decry as “not really women” those women who are not feminists, or who are not liberal, or who do not vote democrat, or who (God forbid) run for elected office as Republicans – those self-proclaimed arbiters of womanhood are not Christian, not liberal-minded, not feminists, and are not decent human beings. We ought, at least, all be willing to be judged by the standards we try to foist on others. If you’re in favor of women’s rights to self-definition and self-actualization, and that includes women’s rights to dress like men or abort their children or have a sex change, you’ve got no credibility if you can’t include women’s rights to vote Republican.

    You know, while we’re on the subject of politics. (I thought this was a fashion blog; sometimes I get confused.)

    Comment by the misfit — April 21, 2012 @ 10:37 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress