Feminism: (noun) The radical notion that women are people.
It’s a term I’ve never clearly defined with myself. I think because it’s this misconception that to be a feminist means you need to emulate the most extreme version of the word. There is a certain archetype, though, isn’t there? When you hear the word ‘feminist’, you automatically think of a bra burning skinhead holding some sort of picket sign, no? You wouldn’t picture a blonde wearing a blue sundress and heels right? I think that’s the idea that always made me believe I couldn’t possibly be a feminist – how could I be a feminist and still be feminine at the same time? How could I wear a skirt while throwing down over the dinner table about Gloria Steinem?
It’s a simple idea, really – it’s choice. I choose to stomp around in five inch heels while challenging snide comments about women making sandwiches. I choose to meticulously pluck my eyebrows to freely furrow when listening to discussions about ‘how that bird would like it’. And I choose to sashay around in traditionally girly dresses because I don’t feel like I need to dress like a man for my voice to mean something.
Comments by US Presidential candidate Donald Trump were released over the weekend. Which ones, you ask? Good point – I’ll narrow this down. During an interview with a journalist, he reveals he’d been pursuing a married woman (whatta guy!) and later revealed that as a star ‘you can anything you want. Grab ’em by the pussy’. Trump has since come out and apologised (a rarity for our favourite Republican), claiming that he wrongfully made the comments, which don’t reflect his person. This might be true – I know I’ve made comments about people, issues, and the like in the past that I don’t stand by today and wish I could take back. So I can empathise with this. However, this comment coupled with his comments about a female journalist being on her period, his comments about Hilary Clinton’s looks, and hell, pretty much every comment he’s made about women lead me to believe otherwise. Apologising for one comment made 10 years ago doesn’t undo all the deplorable garbage that’s spilled out of your mouth since.
Now, this being could very easily become the next President of the United States. I refuse to use the word ‘man’ because no man would make such abhorrent comments. No man would infer women are merely things to be had. No man would encourage ‘grabbing’ women as though we have no say in the matter. For me, ‘grab’ is the most offensive word in this vile exchange. Grab, as to imply force against one’s will. Trump might in future interview suggest the comments were made in jest (he was laughing, after all you guys!), but by offhandedly making casual comments about sexual assault, you’re casually reminding someone about the worst experience of their life. And by laughing through and around those offhanded words, you’re belittling the terror and shock the victim feels afterwards. And this guy could become President?
Trump’s comments along his campaign trail have been lewd, unfounded and straight up dumb. This one, though, struck a nerve. It cut real deep and made me more carefully consider my feelings on the US election, and my feelings towards openly calling myself a feminist – someone who challenges the thoughts and ideas of people like Trump, and just for the record, it pains me to write ‘people like Trump’, because unfortunately, he is merely one of many with this school of thought. I’ve always forged my own path, aware that I live in a time and place when and where I’m gifted with the freedom of choice to be able to do and say exactly what I want. When someone asks if I’ve got a boyfriend by asking if I’m spoken for, I’ve always asserted ‘no one speaks for me sweetheart’; When asked if ‘my man’ minds me wearing low cut dresses when he’s not around, I’ve always suggested that since I’m a fully grown adult, it doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks; and when people ask what men will think when I say I don’t want children, I simply say ‘that’s not my job’. I always encourage my girlfriends to do the same for the exact same reasons – we live in 2016 and can speak, fuck, and live freely. I guess I just feel a little more determined to push the point now.
So thanks D.Trump. And go fuck yourself.