International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the magnificence of womankind, a day that every year I try to uphold. On a macro scale its praising how we have been and are continued to be inspired by famous women who have created a better quality of life for us through politics and culture. On a micro scale its elevating our female friends, mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters and daughters. And it may be surprising to some but it is not a requirement to be a woman to revel in International Women’s Day, infact perhaps in some way it is important for men to understand and appreciate as long as they don’t mansplain and also try to take it as their own or proclaim for an international men’s day. As everyday is international men’s day.
Last year, I celebrated the Itty Bitty Titty committee. Which you can read here:
This year, I am writing about something slightly different. I am infact urging that it is okay to reclaim my femininity and not be denigrated for it.
Fashion, frivolity and femininity are an interconnected daisy chain. Frivolity being in the middle. In the past, I’m pretty sure that to be feminine and also to be fashionable is considered frivolous. This therefore created a package deal of negativity and coincidentally stemmed from really old cultural stereotypes that women did not and could not engage with the public world of politics or a ‘man’s world’. Broadly speaking, a woman’s experience of life was an emotional, diurnal rhythm. It was cyclical, it was encased, it could only touch the four walls of a family home. Therefore, it became a cultural stereotype that women only read romance novels, was interested in fashion and watched daytime soaps. They could only speak in a gossipy flippant language and often delved in their emotions way too much for the ‘man’s world’ to be comfortable with. Hence, why they were kept indoors mentally and physically. When change started to occur – women were recreating these spaces and inciting change within them and stepping out of them. It is apparent that amongst women they are easier to uplift and to feel uplifted.
Fast forward to the twenty first century – so much and still so little has changed. To be a feminist in the 1920’s and to be a feminist in the 1970’s was vastly different. To be a feminist now is even more so. Growing up, I was your atypical girly girl; another stereotype for gender studies. I wore pink, I danced ballet, I didn’t get involved in sport, I took very little interest in STEM subjects, I played with barbie dolls, my little pony and sylvanian families, and my childhood reading was books on fairies and princesses. Once I became aware of boys, I obsessed over them and fancied a new one every week and I was very sensitive. To this day, that has probably shaped me to who I am, pink is still one of my favourite colours, I still have a soft spot for Disney films, and I do an arts degree which involves overanalysing that I also do to my emotions. And still in some way this has made me feel that I am weaker and powerless. I have often been at war with my femininity, whether I choose to shave my legs or buy pink towels from Ikea. The former I often can’t be bothered, the latter I divulged into and still do often choose the pink option. I so desire to be viewed and to view myself as strong but that apparently at times that means I have to sacrifice to be feminine. Femininity is postulated to function for a man’s desire, and thus equating with femininity being weaker and subservient. But I would decide to yell in a defiant gesture that actually I am feminine for myself, and I am reclaiming my femininity for myself. And to be feminine makes myself feel pretty, it makes myself feel good and whole not whole for another. I can still be feminist whilst I wear an all pink outfit to university, whether I buy a Barbie x Missguided swimsuit, whether I wear just jeans and grey and jumper and whilst I buy this months copy of Vogue. An interest in fashion and a partial incline towards being girly doesn’t diminish my intellect. Nor does crying in public diminish my strength. This may seem obvious to some but I think we can forget that many would still categorise girly girls as ‘less than’ and dumb. International Women’s day makes me proud to be a woman and I will choose to celebrate that every other day of the year.
Now please appreciate this conversation that I had inspiring this blog post with a good friend of mine: