Bra Burners

04.03.13

What a Feminist Looks Like

If you’re for the cause, do you really have to dress the part?

Julia Gazdag at Hello Giggles is the latest to ask, why can’t I have my frilly feminist cake and eat it, too? Sad but true, women who wear rosy lipstick and floral skirts are still scoffed at as too feminine for feminism. It’s a debate that’s gone on for decades, from Betty Friedan’s stance that the liberated can still be ladylike to the Miss America protesters of 1968, erroneously said to have burned their bras. Bottom line: it shouldn’t matter how you dress if your ideals are in the right place. Or, as Caitlin Moran wrote: “The purpose of feminism isn’t to make a particular type of woman.” That means if you want to wear ripped jeans and Birkenstocks, go ahead. Polka-dotted poodle skirts? Why not. The whole point of gender equality is you shouldn’t have to look (or act) a certain way to fit a certain gender. Trivial as these questions may sometimes feel, Gazdag points out they have serious ramifications: “When we’re battling a rape culture that tries to tell us that women who wear short enough skirts deserve to be sexually assaulted, it is really, really counterproductive to talk about whether the dress I’m wearing is too archetypically feminine for my ideas to be valid.”