There have been a lot of “Feminism isn’t necessary” posts on my Facebook lately. Instead of commenting and trying to explain why the millions of women who marched yesterday are worthy of being heard, I wanted to share this with you. It is a small part of why I identify as a feminist and why this matters so deeply to me, personally.
One thought I want to establish before I start: I understand American Women are some of the most blessed in the world. I think it’s important to establish that I am grateful for our country and the many freedoms I have been given. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work to eliminate ALL the problems that we can together and try to grow in our understanding of each others struggles.
Validating one problem does not invalidate another.
When I was 13, I went through puberty. I inherited a bootylicious body from my grandma (who looked like Kim Kardashian and I miss very much) - Thanks Grams.
Suddenly, as a curvy girl, going to school, guess what mattered?
My brain? My talent? My faith? My integrity? My friends? My WORDS?
T & A to be more exact.
So when kids at school started calling me a slut on a regular basis even though I didn’t even kiss a boy until I was grown (Not that a woman who kisses lots of boys should be called a slut either, because MYOB), naturally, I was …. effected.
REASON NUMBER ONE I’M A FEMINIST: THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A BOY.
It was a strange mix of “you are only valuable because of your body” from the boys, and, “you are filthy because of your body."
I grew up in a hardcore christian home, and T&A are NOT a good fit with that environment. You become naturally offensive to everyone in that environment. Church camp, singing at church, and other gatherings became a shame-fest:
“You are a distraction to men.”
“You cause men to think bad thoughts.”
“Don’t wear that tank top because you will distract men and cause them to lust after you and (got a lot of this one) YOU LOOK LIKE A SLUT.”
“Your body is SHAMEFUL therefore THE WAY YOU WERE BORN is NOT GOOD ENOUGH, and therefore, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED. ”
“Your body exists for the pleasure OR displeasure of other people, namely men.”
REASON NUMBER TWO I’M A FEMINIST: MY BODY DOES NOT EXIST FOR OTHER PEOPLE. IT IS GODS GIFT TO ME FOR HIS GLORY. AND IT IS NOT FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO TELL ME WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE.
I was super hurt, sad and angry.
SIDENOTE: Funny thing about this is, the more I get to know GOD, the more he/she tells me that he/she adores me the way I am, made me that way for a reason, and that he/she made me a Queen full of his glory and should toss all that shame out the window, because it’s not from him. In case you feel hurt too, keep that in mind.
REASON NUMBER THREE I’M A FEMINIST: I TRULY BELIEVE GOD IS A FEMINIST. I BELIEVE GOD CARES DEEPLY ABOUT JUSTICE FOR WOMEN, EQUALITY FOR WOMEN, AND THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE TOWARD WOMEN.
I could get into the theology of this but I'll leave it at that.
I remember the first time I was shamed for my body was long before I had any curves, though.
I was 7 or 8, and I wore this really cute two-piece swimsuit to the beach that my mom had gotten me.
A family friend said that I “shouldn’t wear that because it is dishonoring to God.”
I WAS 8.
Me now: Why are you sexualizing an 8 Year Old?!
Me then: Ouch. There must be something wrong with being a girl and having a girl body. There must be something really wrong with me. Maybe God doesn’t like me the way I am.
I have several more examples from EARLY childhood like that but I shall skip ahead.
REASON NUMBER FIVE I’M A FEMINIST: NO LITTLE GIRL SHOULD HAVE TO FEEL THIS WAY.
Back to puberty: What I decided to do was to try to dress super modestly and wear no makeup, that should end the shaming right?
The boys at school didn’t like me anymore because I’m not the “hot girl,” and the girls at school don’t want to be seen with me because I am now valueless.
Cue: many days of crying in the bathroom.
REASON NUMBER SIX I’M A FEMINIST: I SHOULD HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT MY EDUCATION, AND INSTEAD I WAS STRESSED OUT ABOUT MY APPEARANCE. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO BOYS AT NEARLY THE SAME LEVEL AS IT DOES FOR GIRLS.
An example of a regular occurrence: I remember walking down the street, full sweatsuit, no makeup, looking RAGGEDY (my favorite way to look lmao), and a grown man in his car pulls onto the sidewalk in front of me, cutting me off, rolls down his window to be creepy and sufficiently scares the sh*t out of me.
And this is a REGULAR occurrence. Still. I could go on and on with millions of examples like that.
REASON NUMBER SEVEN I’M A FEMINIST: I’M SO TIRED OF BEING HARASSED AND TREATED LIKE I EXIST FOR THE PLEASURE OR DISPLEASURE OF ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. I’M TIRED OF BEING AFRAID EVERY TIME I WALK ALONE AT NIGHT. I’M TIRED OF BEING AFRAID WHEN I STEP IN AN ELEVATOR WITH A MAN I DON’T KNOW. I’M TIRED OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO ME THAT CONSISTENTLY VALIDATE THAT YES, I SHOULD BE AFRAID, AND FOR VERY GOOD REASON. AND I’M TIRED OF BEING TOLD IT’S MY FAULT THAT IT IS HAPPENING TO ME BASED ON WHAT I DO, SAY OR WEAR, WHEN LIFE HAS SHOWN ME REPEATEDLY THAT NO MATTER WHAT I’M WEARING, THIS IS SOMETHING I DEAL WITH.
Back to puberty. Dressing modestly doesn't work. So then, I try to go the opposite way. Plan B.
I follow a bunch of amazing women on Instagram, and I OWN my body. I own my curves, my outfits, and I own the creative art form that is makeup (another thing where women are shamed with it and shamed without it). And if a man makes me uncomfortable, I curse at him and tell him to learn some manners (This isn’t always the best way to go. Had some men become violent so use your best judgement with this method!).
Backlash: Those that follow the God that I do not know, who isn’t a feminist, and thinks feminists and hellbound and unfounded, are PISSED. And I HEAR ABOUT IT.
Names I am called regularly during this time by people who claim to know God, yet don’t care to take the time to understand anything other then what they believe to be true:
Whore (back to this kissing thing, this one makes me laugh)
They were very upset.
AKA. #Damaging (again)
Besides that heavy part of it, I, on the other hand, am starting to finally feel pretty good about this whole thing. I wear makeup when I want as a form of creativity, and I say “screw it I’m gorgeous either way” with no guilt. when I don’t feel like it (Sidenote: I think it’s funny that women are called “arrogant” for owning their beauty instead of someone saying “WOW YOU ARE AMAZING FOR OWNING YOUR BEAUTY IN A WORLD WHERE THE ECONOMY RUNS ON TELLING YOU OTHERWISE.”).
REASONS NUMBER EIGHT AND NINE I’M A FEMINIST:
8- I AM SHAMED NO MATTER HOW I DRESS OR WHAT I DO BY SOMEONE WHO FEELS THEIR OPINION FOR MY LIFE IS MORE VALUABLE THEN MY OWN.
9- LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE MAKING LOTS OF MONEY BY MAKING WOMEN FEEL LIKE THEY ARE NOT ENOUGH.
Now here comes the fun part where things get super interesting (#SARCASM).
I work in the music industry, one that thrives on exploiting womens bodies for financial gain. There are some women (let us say, Beyonce, or Madonna) who have found a way to own their sexuality, while also managing to explain that they are not doing it for anyone or to sell things, but rather as an honest expression of a part of themselves. Which, after studying them a great deal, I genuinely believe and admire.
REASON NUMBER TEN I AM A FEMINIST: “WOMEN ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE SEXUAL BEINGS IN THE SAME WAY THAT MEN ARE.” IF THEY ARE SEXUAL FOR A MAN, IT IS ACCEPTED. IF THEY EXPRESS THEIR SEXUALITY AS A PART OF THEMSELVES THAT THEY ARE CELEBRATING FOR THEMSELVES, THEY ARE DEEPLY SHAMED.
So anyway, back to the music industry: The men around me began to tell me EXACTLY how I could and couldn’t dress, could and couldn’t eat, how to do my hair and makeup, and what I could and couldn’t say and to whom. This went on for, oh say, 8 years. Not to mention the countless men that said I had to sleep with them or owed them sexual favors because they “believed in me” and slandered me like crazy when I said HEEEELLLL no, and did everything in their power to hold up my career, but I’ll save that for a different day.
REASON NUMBER ELEVEN I AM A FEMINIST: I AM SOOOOOOOOOO TIRED OF BEING TREATED LIKE I BELONG TO SOMEONE. YOU DON’T OWN ME (As stated in my song, “Cool” over and over to get the point across. Hear it on Spotify or iTunes if you love me).
1. So I have my family and church telling me “Dress like a nun” and subconsciously “have deep shame for your body.” BUT, as I discovered, men are still creeps no matter how I dress.
2. I have a music industry telling me that I don’t own my body and it is a product to be exploited and sold and needs to look like a plastic, perfect product.
3. I have my hurt and anger (from years of shame) telling me to do whatever I want and scream at everyone and revolt and wear whatever makes me happy that day. Mad that I even have spent this much of my life thinking about something so shallow as clothes and that no one seems to see me for MORE.
I would like to insert another 6 paragraphs about my struggle finding respect as a female producer and how RIDICULOUS people are about it, and how it all ties in, but I will save that for a different post. So I will just say…
NUMBER 12: I HAVE HAD A SIGNIFICANTLY MORE DIFFICULT TIME AS A FEMALE IN A MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE OF MY GENDER AND HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED MANY TIMES BECAUSE OF MY GENDER.
This brings us to
Two nights ago I watched a documentary called “Miss Representation.” Highly recommended. It’s on Netflix.
What I got out of it is this:
REASONS NUMBER 13, 14, AND 15 THAT I AM A FEMINIST:
13. Domestic violence and rape and sexual assault is STILL SUPER high, and we still aren’t quite to ideal “equality” especially in how we are compensated.
14. Part of the cause is that women are BARELY represented in american politics OR in positions of leading power, and when they are, the media focus is much more on their appearance than on their brains (proven countless times in countless ways).
15. This is caused by a predominately male-run media (Like MAJORLY male run. Very upsetting statistics) that sell products by making women feel like less, and making men feel “turned on.”
AKA- Super beautiful women being sexually exploited by men who work above them in order to sell a product and make money.
It hits home for me.
I am a beautiful woman who is sexy and I seem to cause chaos no matter what I wear.
I know it’s wrong to be ashamed of my body. I also know its wrong to use my body to make money for something I don’t believe in. I know people interpret “skin” differently and they don’t know my story, so it’s very easy to see “hot girl being exploited” instead of “girl that has overcome crazy shame and self-hatred to get to the point where she could even be in this picture.”
Whatever choices I do end up making, dear EMMPIRE, please understand the heart behind it.
Men- please value me as a whole person. All of us, actually.
We may be sexy, but we are also smart. We are talented. We are brave. We are so much more. See that. Have the eyes to see past just what’s on the outside. And please, don’t ask us to diminish one part of our glory by changing the way we dress so that you can have the vision to see it. Accept us as whole. Smart, Accomplished, Capable, AND on top of all of that, FINEEEEEE. :)
Please don’t look at me and feel like less. My worst nightmare is to create a brand founded on making women feel like they are not enough. Please look at me, and yourselves, and choose to see the beautiful heart behind our appearance. The MORE behind our faces and bodies. If I inspire you, don’t let it be for anything superficial. Let it be for my courage. For my drive. For my ability to never quit. And I promise, I’ll look for the same thing in you. I will never look at you and think something harsh about your appearance. I will never judge you for such a small part of the glory that you are. I am with you. I will never judge you for your sexual preference or partner or for the choices you may make. I recognize they are your choices and I respect your amazing mind and ability to make them. I will never look down on you. I will do my best to fight for you just like you fight for me. I will look for the best in you no matter what. I will do my best to EMMPower you with this gift I’ve been given. And I promise I won’t always get it right but I will try my best to encourage you just like you encourage me.