To be a feminist means to be a feminist for all women, not just women like you or the women surrounding you. Alongside fighting for equality to men socially, economically, and politically, one of the biggest fights in our movement is the freedom of choice.
A daily standpoint we feminist’s take in our fight for freedom is our clothing choices. The choices we make every day in terms of clothing have now become unconscious. However, there have been hundreds of key moments throughout history where women took a stand against stereotypes and what was expected from them, to make a change in society – a great example of this is the ‘bloomer dress’ which was invented to allow women to move and work with more freedom. The bloomer dress was one of the very first ‘feminist fashion pieces’ which was brought about in the 1850s.
Another example is the ‘miniskirt’ – designed by Mary Quant in the early ’60s. The skirt was loved by all women for the same reason they all loved Louis Réard’s creation of the ‘Bikini’ yes they were both criticised (heavily by men and the media) but the reason women loved these revolutionary inventions so much was because it was a celebration of their choices, their freedom, their not having to be told by others what they should and should not wear.
The standpoints women were taking in the early years of the feminist movement proved to be revolutionary, they allowed us to make the unconsious fashion choices we make every day. Each of these revolutions allowed women to be freer, to be comfortable with their choices, and have them accepted by society, but how is that fight going today?
In 2004 a law was passed in France which banned schoolgirls (indirectly targeting Muslim girls and women) from wearing the headscarf as they believed that religious signs went against laïcité – political secularism. After this law passed it was found that French feminist groups did not accept scarf-wearing women in their meetings, they had decided that women who represent their religious beliefs through wearing the Hijab in fact went against everything a feminist stands for as they believed the Hijab was a sign of oppression – but doesn’t this go completely against what all women throughout history stood for?. Women choosing to wear the Hijab to represent their religious beliefs is still their choice, feminists who are fighting the fight that feminism began with, support their choices rather than reject them, right?
We as women collectively need to be fighting the same fight, feminism shouldn’t be women rejecting other women because they don’t believe their choices are correct, or they are not the choices you personally would have made – (so long as they are not putting themselves in danger or degrading themselves), this just defeats the whole point of feminism – if you have your own ideology of what the requirements of being a feminist are, then you not what a feminist is defined as, you’re just fighting to have your own choices accepted, but without leaving room for other women. Feminism isn’t even about being above men in society rather in line with them. In fact, although the feminist movement was encouraged because of men, it doesn’t actually involve them all that much.
Feminism DEFINITELY is not about being above other women, or your choices being above mine.
Feminism about being equal to one another, being treated fairly, about being accepted for whatever decisions they make, the same way men are accepted in society without having their decisions questioned.
We as women need to stick together, welcome one another with open arms, and fight my fight with the same passion I would fight your fight with.