Women who embrace their sexuality are criticised. That is a fact.
They are criticised by the mass media despite it having sexualised women for the majority of their lives. They are criticised by our patriarchal society and the very people who have treated them as sexual objects.
Unfortunately, women who embrace their sexuality are also criticised by other women. The reasons for this may vary however today I want to think about the way they are criticised by women who identify as feminists. I want to think about the way they are criticised by other women for wearing clothes and behaving in a way that they believe are damaging to feminism, in a way that they believe are damaging to women.
Over the years we have seen first wave, second wave, third wave, and post feminism to name just a few. There have been so many different feminist waves and movements, some more extreme than others, that many ideas of feminism conflict and we can become preoccupied with trying to decide what kind of feminist we are, rather than just being a feminist.
I’ve recently been reading some of Roxane Gay’s essays on feminism and it really prompted me to start thinking about how divided feminism has become. We seem to spend so much time arguing amongst ourselves about what behaviour is empowering to women that the entire point of feminism becomes lost entirely. We have been divided.
Let me make this clear, no feminist is better than another.
You can wear baggy clothes and be a feminist. You can wear miniskirts and be a feminist. You can wear a headscarf and be a feminist. You can have tattoos and be a feminist. You can wear makeup and be a feminist. You can choose not to shave and be a feminist. You can enjoy watching porn and be a feminist. You can take part in beauty pageants and be a feminist.
When I think of feminism, I think of women having the ability to make their own decisions. They are free to choose what to say, how to act and what to wear. Providing it is safe, I believe a woman is entitled to do whatever she wants with her body and if that involves embracing her sexuality then so be it.
The only person who can decide what is empowering to a woman is that woman.
Women receive enough criticism from the rest of the world without needing it from fellow feminists too. I want an inclusive kind of feminism where we accept one another, where we stop arguing among ourselves and tearing each other down because our opinions differ slightly.
Instead of criticising one another, surely we need to simply accept that every woman is different and stand together regardless of this.
We are all striving towards a common goal; we just have different methods of getting there.