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How we have learned to defend women: Reenvisioning feminism

Feminism Symbol

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Feminism Symbol

Olivia Dell’Olio, Staff Writer

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Recently I have been finding myself in more and more social situations where my capabilities as a feminist have been tested. Picture yourself within a small group of people, enjoying everyone’s company, until a derogatory word is used or a sexist statement is mumbled from the lips of someone who, in all probability, isn’t even aware that he is being sexist. You freeze up. Do you politely correct him and risk ruining the casual mood of the conversation, or just let it slide and keep your opinions to yourself?
What I have discovered, after being in this situation one too many times, is that neither option is the right one. When calling someone out on their sexism, any worry about ‘ruining a conversation’ is just perpetuating the idea that females need to keep their ideas to themselves to remain polite, but I feel the need to remind everyone, including myself, that trying to remain polite while fighting for women’s rights is nearly impossible. At some point, somebody is going to have a problem with your words of equality, and trying to cater to everyone, even people who believe women are inferior, is just doing what people want women to do. Which would be refraining from speaking about something important enough to cause a couple of disagreements.
The idea of women trying to follow “bite-sized feminism” could also be exampled by the popular Brandy Melville shirt, proclaiming, “RAISE BOYS AND GIRLS THE SAME WAY.” A company that specializes in manufacturing clothes that the average American woman cannot even fit into, which perpetuates the idea that women must have the “perfect body” to be beautiful or even normal, plasters a catchy statement on a shirt and suddenly is a feminist-approved company. Real companies that follow feminism would offer clothing in more sizes, as they would realize that women, unlike mass-produced objects, come in all different shapes and sizes.
Although Dove soap commercials promote body positivity by lining up an array of women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds, their parent company, Unilever, couldn’t possibly be more contradictory, as they also own the popular fragrance line, Axe. Axe brings new meanings to the words derogatory, heteronormative, and whitewashed through their many ads, all featuring a Caucasian man surrounded by at least one scantily clad Caucasian woman. The continued sexual objectification of women has no apparent bearing on sales however, as all the controversy has only served as publicity. Sporting taglines such as “Don’t be a friend, be a man,” or “Sweat only attracts other men,” or, most popularly, showing multiple women flock to a man who sprayed Axe, does nothing besides spur hatred for the company among feminists. Regardless of the quality of the product, people will still argue that “sex sells,” leaving the question: when did the dehumanization of females become sexy?
As grueling as the task of psycho-analysing every object in your life for even a trace of sexism may seem, I promise, it is completely worth knowing that you are living a progressive life of someone aware of her actions and the origins of her behavior. “Passive feminism” has had its turn in ring, claiming young girls and teaching them to exert their womanly power only among other women (who feel the same way), but I believe now has become the time for a new age of active feminism, beating stereotypes confining women to domestic roles and spurring woman-on-woman hatred for straying from these same stereotypes! It is not okay to target women for the way they do their makeup, the way they dress, or who they decide to date, because when you fight to ban dress codes, when you fight eliminate beauty standards, and when you fight for LGBTQA+ rights, you should be indiscriminate in whom the lasting effects will benefit. My advice to all aspiring feminists would be not to be afraid to stand up, even if someone takes your spot, and even if someone notices you’ve been sitting the whole time.

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How we have learned to defend women: Reenvisioning feminism