As part of the ongoing Everyday Feminist series, I asked Laura of For Those About to Shop to share her thoughts on feminism. Laura is a freelance fashion writer living in Toronto.
I wrote a post recently about flappers and how their style represented a shift away from the body-conscious corsets of the previous era. I compared that era’s style to 1980s power suits because both represent a thumbing of the nose at traditional notions of femininity and an embrace of dress codes and behaviour that are, if not exactly like a man, then a definite move away from what was considered “feminine”.
I began to notice that women through the centuries have tended to blame their oppression on their own femininity and sought ways to escape it, especially through the clothes they wore and their behaviour. In the 20s, for instance, pants and taped-down chests became fashionable as well as activities previously reserved for men: drinking, smoking, riding bicycles, driving. In the 80s as I mentioned, shoulder pads gave women greater size in the boardroom where they went toe-to-toe with their male cohorts.
I’ve never been the type of feminist who believes freedom comes in having what men have. For that reason, I’ve been called anti-feminist. I’m more likely to encourage women to embrace their femininity and acknowledge that we are different. Back in university I wrote an op-ed piece arguing in favour of paid days off for PMS. I am exhausted and irrational the few days before my period and I’m not ashamed of this perfectly natural female experience although society requires I hide it and pretend it’s not happening (push through as so many of us do). To me, this is an example of denying our femininity and thus denying ourselves.
Who made men the standard anyway? Why is ambition, competition, and status the way we measure success when those are distinctly male qualities? Women value relationship and co-operation but we are told that to be valuable we must achieve and conquer in a very masculine way. And then so many women in their 30s look up bleary eyed from their race to the top and wonder when the baby is going to come! Research shows that at least 20% of fertile women are rendered infertile because of high pressure careers that take over their lives. That’s why so often a woman who’s been trying for years will quit an overwhelming job and “miraculously” get pregnant.
Think about this: biologically, women need to feel good to do good, while men need to do good to feel good. That means every woman, especially a mom, needs to spend at least an hour a day in self-care. Feeling good needs to be our top priority. The 15 minutes suggested by most reputable advice sources is a joke. I’m saying that as a woman your most important job is to love yourself best of all. Yes, even more than your husband and children.
You can find Laura at For Those About to Shop.