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Stream and mountains

Can I be a Feminist?

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

By Isobel Chambers

Do our definitions of feminism differ? Is that OK?

The reality is, I’ve grappled with my opinion of feminism as I’ve learned more about the power it holds. I take real issue with the version of feminism that dismisses the voice of men yet cannot sanely handle a patronising tone or mansplain. I take great pride in the fact that I work as a makeup specialist for the biggest beauty retailer in Australia but refute any statements that deem makeup necessary for female professionalism. In some cases, I feel materialistic disclosing my position.

So, where do I draw these lines? And am I falling victim to internalised misogyny if I blame myself for falling into the stereotypes of women?

Feminism isn’t all beneficial.

Commodity Feminism sees individuals who capitalise on the movement’s support – making revenue of the historical (and ongoing) inequality. Huge criticism was thrown when #WomenWhoWork was a hashtag used by Ivanka Trump to promote her lifestyle brand. Women know we work – we know we’re good at it – and we know that using the legacy of feminism to flog self-help isn’t justifiable.

Furthermore, there is a vast discrepancy over the representation of diverse females as the faces of feminism. The term ‘sisters, not cis-ters’ was coined to recognise the need for intersectional feminism, as too often we see the exclusion of remarkable transgender women. Ultimately, they are statistically the sufferers of a large amount of gender-based violence and a category of people that need the benefits feminism can offer.

It’s due to feminism that I am able to write this article or work for a salary. However, I do struggle with the guilt of making choices that I feel present myself as a ‘limited’ female. Would a feminist pine for a Byronic romance to succeed? Would a feminist argue against the main arguments of feminism? What girls (and I) should recognise is that in the ability to make a choice, whatever any decision, we are exercising our female agency. Choose to invest in your appearance or choose not to. Choose to have children or choose not to. Ultimately, my objections lie in contesting a woman’s choice over her life.

It is my view that feminism is defined by the individual conceptualising it, but what should remain a constant is inclusivity and respect of choice. Therefore, I may not match all of your feminist ideology, but I live by mine.


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