Heaven forbid you say the F word out loud in 2019. No, not that F word, the other F word. Feminism.
It can be a difficult subject to talk about, almost taboo. It’s such a wide and subjective topic that people perhaps don’t feel qualified to talk about what Feminism means to them. A sense of imposter syndrome.
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies is a book by Scarlett Curtis, which pieces together stories from strong, inspirational women on what the F word means to them. It’s reassuring, life-affirming and definitely makes you realise that you can be any kind of feminist you want to be, so long as the core meaning of feminism is at the heart of your belief. It made me have a little think deeper into what Feminism means to me personally. So, here are my ramblings, alongside of the book I binge-read in two days.
Feminism doesn’t necessarily mean burning your bras and banishing makeup (or the colour pink), unless you want it to be. People ask me ‘Oh have you not shaved your legs because you’re a feminist?’… well, hun, I am a feminist, but that’s not the reason for my hairy pins; they’re unshaven because I’m too blooming busy working my butt off. By hey, it’s also okay to not shave as a political stance, rather than a lazy one.
I remember the first time someone pointed out my hairy legs. My leg hairs are white, so barely noticeable from a distance anyway. I was about 10, maybe 11, and had never picked up a razor in my life. It was my friends Dad who joked about it, perhaps not realising that actually, I probably wasn’t ready to shave. That interaction made me uncomfortable and self-conscious – my legs had never bothered me before but I was constantly thinking that people were staring at and judging them. From then on I wouldn’t let a single hair get more than 2mm long before I whizzed it off again. I can’t say I do the same now. As I write this, it’s probably been three weeks and I have no intentions of shaving my legs for at least another fortnight. It’s my body, and I’ll do what I want with it.
Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor Who had a similar experience at age 12. Isn’t it strange that the people around us notice the hair on our bodies before we ourselves do?
In Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, Evanna Lynch asks her mum “Am I a Feminist?” to which her mum replied that if she believed in equal rights, believe women should work and believe both men and women are of equal intellectual capability, then yes – she is a feminist. Oh, and much like Lynch, Hermione Granger was also one of my first feminist figures. A bad ass, sarcastic, smart, independent woman.
I really like how Alison Sudon views Feminism. Historically, the word has gained some negative connotations, but it’s meaning and what it’s all about has changed with the times. She said: “You do not have to get everything right to be a part of this. The world is changing rapidly and there’s a flexibility to this era that feels very exciting.” It’s true. So long as your heart is in the right place, then you’re a part of the movement.
It was refreshing to see so many people mention the Spice Girls – Lauren Bravo wrote an entire book on the Spice Girls being feminist icons, which I reviewed here. Anti-FGM activist Nimco Ali prides herself on channelling the girl group during events. “When I meet prime ministers and presidents, I channel the Spice Girls as much as my mum, grandmother and those who pushed a little harder every generation so I could stand as tall as I do today.”
Founder of Friend of a Friend, Olivia Perez has published a listicle in the book, of 10 ways you can support other women. I am totally here for that. Support female business owners, be there for women. Particularly in the influencer community, we can all appreciate Perez’s tips of “Don’t lift another woman up by tearing another woman down” and “collaborate don’t compete”.
Not only is Feminists Don’t Wear Pink… filled with powerfully written, personal stories, but also educational lessons and reminders of how you can be a better person in a world we can often feel is against us. There was something that I could take away from every essay in the book. It’s a book by women – influential women – with big ideas that stemmed from their fury at the patriarchy. For example Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of the dating app Bumble, where only women can instigate a conversation. Other contributors include Kiera Knightly, Jameela Jamil and Zoe Sugg.
If there is one book you read this year ladies, make it Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies.