Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I'm a femininist

I'm thinking of inventing a new word: femininist.

I'm a convinced feminist, but the word feminism has been associated to too many values that are hard for me (and for loads of other people) to accept. Prejudices. Such as that feminists hate men and are ugly and unsexy, which may be true for some, but no more so than among any other group of women. Or men for that sake.

There is also a quite strong opinion among some feminists (such as the friends of a friend of mine, one of his girl-friends hated me from the moment she saw me, based on her own prejudices. We didn't even talk until she had judged me, unbelievable) that if you like to wear make-up, short skirts or high heels you're not a feminist.

To me it's the opposite; I refuse to be deemed as a less capable or less intelligent person because I'm a woman, I refuse to dress less feminine to prove myself and if people want to judge me by my choice of clothes and shoes then they are quite stupid and simply don't deserve my attention (but they do annoy me).

So, I'm a femininist. I love being a woman (except when I meet biggots), I love men (especially non-sexist men), and I am completely convinced that you should never judge someone primarily by their sex. Yes, there are differences between men and women, but there are even bigger differeces between different men and between different women. We are all unique and should be allowed to be. I will always fight for womens right to be taken seriously even though they are sexy and feminine women (and men's right to be taken seriously even if they are not macho enough to fit the norm).

And I'd like to quote Gloria Steinem:

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” 

The "truth" here is referring to the fact that there are gender powered structures in society, that restrict both men and women. Most of all they restrict all the men and women who don't fit into the stereotype of what a man or a woman should be. And since the structures in society tend to favour men, and to make men the norm, they generally restrict women more than men.

If you understand Swedish there is a very interesting radio-program about the way fashion has shaped the general view on feminists here (mp3) or here (streaming). It's the program from December 11th, also about the story of the Vanderbilts.


  1. Yup, I'm a femininist, too! ;-)
    I was lucky to have a job where I am surrounded by lots of great men, who accept me as I am, and who don't look down on me just because I'm a girl. However, the society (in general) really needs to make some changes and to respect women more than it does now.

  2. What an unexpected post on this blog. Or perhaps not... perhaps it is just in the right place.

    And I agree. Let me expand on the subject.

    There is that less-than-charming stereotype of the red stocking feminist that seems to prevail in the public debate. And certainly, a part of that stereotype is anti-fashion. So much to the point that the more zealot-prone feminists are often mislead into believing that fashion is their enemy and they are to dress as uniformly as possible, wary of playing up to any inherent female values (a certain political belief system comes to mind at this point).

    This is, of course, a sad mistake on the part of the ideological forces because it only works to deepen any gender issues that might have been the problem to begin with. Nothing in the issue of equality between the sexes is improved from a bad package (and nothing is better in the head-over-heels approach of blatantly denying the very obvious, and required, differences; just as you point out). We all like to look well, or at least nice and pleasing to the eye, regardless of our cause. Men and women. Regardless of what we say outwardly. In fact, there is nothing so rebellious as fashion itself and not following it is a fashion statement in itself. So there we go. There is no escape.

    Any movement, for any cause, will profit from a fair bit of grace and feminine flair. Sometimes that grace is achieved by a nice piece of clothing, sometimes it will be a warm gesture. Sometimes both.

    I think that just about every female I've ever spent any serious time with has been a feminist in the sense of being a woman, not in the sense of hating men or fashion or wanting to make a political statement.

    But it is also true that we play as well as our partner, or opponent for that matter, will allow us. Conversely, all femininity or appreciation of it, must be reciprocated and acknowledged.

    I used to have a photo of the Swedish author, Stig Dagerman with the words: "All feminism must begin with the man", written over it in blue ink. The idea was that once, men knew the difference between women and girls and there was an appreciation in knowing that difference. It was called being a gentleman. And gentlemen need their ladies, for sure.

    Femininity at play is a dance that needs a partner. That particular dance has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with grace. Its sad to see that the modern take on this is as shallow as it is unappreciating of the details: The flair of fashion, that wonderful interaction between us all, the socialite rules to govern that dance.

    Finally, there is some truth in van der Rohes quote: "God is in the details" (i'm pretty sure that quote is accredited to a number of sources) - but I'm wondering if that quote shouldn't be re-written to better suit the crudities of the world of today: "God is in retail".

  3. Although all of you state very valid point, I have to say that as a Dutch girl, I'm a bit surprised. The anti-fashion feminist stereotype is one we know here as well: she's the arch-feminist last seen en masse in the 1970's (actually, an eco-brand I sometimes work with was dressing a lady from that movement for an event. we asked her by email to wear heels. she responded stating that heels were only good for self-defence... but on meeting her, she wasn't judgemental about us being 'fashion-women') however, at least in the Netherlans, she was followed by another feminist stereotype: the 1980's power-woman, the glamazon, the heel-wearing, man-eating carreer-tiger. This woman is as much of an exaggerated and actually quite negative creature as her predecessor. And probably just about as non-existent in her pure form. However, because of her existence, modern-day feminists don't really have to appologize for looking good or being fashionable (of course, looking very girly might give people the wrong impression but that's not really the point here). There may of course (and that's what the friend's friend from your describtion sounds like) always be the type of woman ready to hate any girl prettier or thinner than she is, using feminism as a pretext. But really, we all know who the anti-feminist is in that little scheme, don't we sisters ;)

  4. hello! just popping in to say hello! thanks for the link. Great blog, i shall be visiting regularly! xx

  5. AnaJan: Great! Appreciate your colleagues, they seem to be so worth it!

    Anonymous: Very interesting comment. I agree with most of it. I'm a bit dumbstruck actually ;-).

    Lauriana: Hm, I think I know what you mean. Let me explain the situation here. Like Holland, Sweden is almost extremely equal in many ways. We have laws against sexual discrimination, and equal rights for fathers and mothers to go on PAID maternity/paternity-leave. Compared to many other countries there is really nothing to complain about, and I think that's part of the problem. We are so equal on the SURFACE that it's become almost taboo to call yourself a feminist, I know many women who have very feminist values who will not use the word, because of what they connect with it. And also because if you call yourself a feminist you claim that there is a problem, and if you complain about problems it's a bit like showing weakness. But still, we are so NOT equal. Traditionally male qualities and attributes are valued much higher than female. For example, girls who behave and dress like boys are considered quite tough while girly boys are seen as a bit of a problem. It's a well known fact that it's bad if a branch becomes too dominated by women, since the salaries WILL become lower if it is. Women study to a much higher degree than men, and get better grades, but men are still better paid, even compared to women who do exactily the same job, and even at the very first job after graduation (so it cannot be a case of women performing worse at work). In rape-trials, it's common to question the woman about her previous sexual expereinces, and if she's had any experiences that are considered other than "normal" they make it less likely the man is convicted, no matter what the circumstances around the actual rape are. The same is the case if she's worn a low cut blouse or a short skirt, or if she was drunk when she was raped.
    And it's still taboo in large groups of society to call yourself a feminist (even though it was quite modern among male politicians a few years ago).
    And I think you may be right about the jealousy...

    JuliaB: Welcome!

    And I would like to add to the discussion that I love to lounge around without make-up, in comfy jeans, a t-shirt and wellington-boots when I'm off work (it can actually be a rather sensual dress-code). It's not all about heels and make-up ;-)

  6. Thats really very good work by them, Appreciative and I like a lot. It should be done some time ago and you have explained a very nice blog here too...


  7. Hi Karin,
    I happened to stumble on your blog today and was attracted to this post. I don't have a lot to add, because I totally agree with you all, I'm so glad I found this!
    I also do a lot of thinking on the apparent equality there seems to be, especially when I discuss with my boyfriend on the value attributed to exact sciences vs humanities and the link to the rates of boys and girls in those branches...
    Thank you all for explaining my opinions so well ;)

  8. Got here from Burdastyle and was so surprised to see this post.
    I've never been a feminist, cause in Italy it means it's 1970s and I have to go on strike, can't shave my legs and must scream "go abortion".
    Recently we had a "woman's day" here in Milan with 50-60 year old women screaming "make abortion legal". I was staring in disbelief wondering 1. don't they know abortion has been legal for a while?!; and 2. they are 60 ys old, how is this their problem... 3. why do they look like hippies and sneer at me for being out for a stroll with my boyfriend and I dar to wear red lipstick.

    So I guess I am a femininist.
    Which is really hard. Cause Italy is not Sweden. And we need to fight sleezy old men and angry old feminists alike...

    By the way: recently we had a young woman who was nominated minister for the Equal Opportunities. And the above-mentioned feminists called her all sort of names, saying she must have slept with someone to get the job. WTF??




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