Feminism means a lot of different things to different people—a fact that has often made me feel like I don’t live up to everyone’s expectations of it. Here’s how I fall short of being the ideal feminist and why I’ve just decided to accept it.
- I’m not perfect. I make mistakes pretty much all the time, but that’s part of being human. I don’t have to be perfect all the time. I don’t even have to try. I used to try to be the ideal feminist but I kept falling short. What I’ve come to learn is that it’s OK to embrace your faults. Our faults make us different. When we acknowledge them, we grow and become more accepting of ourselves and other people. That’s the kind of life I want to live.
- Feminism isn’t perfect either. If feminism was perfect, there would only be one interpretation. Instead, the concept has often placed women in opposition to each other. The second wave of feminism butted heads with the third wave by only focusing on the needs of upper and middle-class white women. The newest form of feminism finds ways to butt heads with the second and third waves by embracing sexuality in an unapologetic fashion. There are always going to be differing opinions. There’s no one way to do this “right.”
- I have hairy legs and a Brazilian wax. I only shave my legs every couple of months. Admittedly I’m not that hairy, but I don’t think I should have to be embarrassed by my natural body. Until I go to a fancy event—then for some reason I feel obligated to shave my legs. Weird, right? As far as the Brazilian wax is concerned, I don’t do it for me. I do it for my partner, who told me once they prefer it. It’s OK to admit that too. I shouldn’t feel bad for doing something my partner likes. Isn’t that what happens in a loving relationship? I don’t have to feel like I’m letting feminism down by doing special things for my partner.
- I’m sick of the cosmetic double standard. I’ve never really worn that much makeup and now that I’m older, I’ve pretty much stopped wearing it altogether, except for special occasions like concerts or job interviews. Sometimes I feel like a bad feminist when I put it on, though. Why do I feel the need to put on makeup for a job interview? Am I somehow making a better impression by applying fake enhancements to my face? Is it false advertisement? As a feminist, shouldn’t I reject makeup and its false image that was pushed on to us by society? The truth is that my appearance isn’t a declaration of my beliefs and it doesn’t have to be.
- Jealousy is ugly. I’m not talking about small jealousy that makes your partner think, “Aww, she really likes me.” I’m talking about the type that makes you suspicious and controlling. The type that consumes you and makes you hate other women just for being beautiful. It’s ugly, I know it, but I still get this way sometimes. Maybe it’s the long line of guys who have screwed me over by cheating in the past or maybe it’s just my own insecurities. Either way, sometimes I don’t trust or like other women for no real reason. It’s stupid but sometimes my feelings overwhelm me.
- I watch mainstream hardcore porn. And I like it a lot. I also like to be dominated in the bedroom. There used to be a time when I felt bad about wanting to be thrown around and overpowered during sex. I’d wonder if I could still be a feminist if I enjoyed being spanked by my partner. The answer is yes! I mean, I know about sex workers and I know about the systematic oppression of women through the portrayal of subjugation. However, I also know women are entitled to do what they want with their bodies and choosing to do porn falls into this category.
- I love gangsta rap. Growing up outside of Washington D.C., I found rap music was a huge part of the culture that I loved. Also, I’ve always had a connection to music through dance. Gangsta rap in particular has always been one of my favorite types of music to dance to. I really enjoy singing along too, so I know what they’re saying. There’s a lot of misogyny in rap lyrics but for some reason, I can’t seem to resist loving it. Just because I like the music doesn’t necessarily mean I condone the blatant disrespect for women. I connect with it on a deeper level, and that’s OK. Recently I started noticing a slow shift in rap to a more conscious form of lyrical expression with artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole and I hope this trend will continue. That doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop listening to Snoop Dogg or Biggie, though, and it doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist either.
- I love high heels. I love them but I also hate them. Why do I need to wear shoes that are unnatural, and for the most part uncomfortable, to feel sexy or fancy? I don’t know but I do. I always make the excuse to myself and others that a quality pair of heels isn’t uncomfortable, but that’s a lie. They may be less uncomfortable than a cheap pair of heels, but they’re never comfortable like flat shoes that actually mirror your body’s natural position. I’m still going to wear them though. Aside from the fact that guys are often turned on by heels, they give me confidence. I walk different and project a more powerful demeanor when I wear them. I dress for myself, not other people, so does that mean I’m a bad feminist for wearing painful shoes to make me feel good? Maybe, but I’m fine with that.