Thursday, October 23, 2014


It should not be surprising to anyone why more young women are not taking an interest in or becoming active in feminism. I've noticed an increasing and disturbing trend in which young women are placed in either/or, do or die situations, made to feel as if they have no place in the political conversation. A Fox News personality recently expressed her opinion that young women shouldn't vote because they are, "healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world," and that they should stick to Tinder and instead. Because we all know that young women can't be politically active and active on Tinder at the same time.

Even little girls are not safe from the assault on their choices. A mom recently got a store to pull girly police and firefighter costumes from the shelves saying they were "sexualized." Instead of appealing to the store to provide more choices for girls, she instead chose to limit the choices of others. In the process she taught her own kids that the way to react to clothing we personally find is not in our taste is to slut shame. Is it any wonder why a little girl would grow up wondering if a sexual assault was her fault because her skirt was too short? 

Every time I post a picture or a video making a political statement, random people of the interwebs comment about my makeup or my fashion choices. I'm lucky in that I figured out early on that my self-defined femininity and feminism wasn't an either/or choice. But many young women haven't figured this out yet and while they want things like equal pay and access to healthcare, they don't see their place in participating in achieving these things.

When young women aren't able to find their place in the conversation, it keeps even more young women out of the conversation. Celebrities like Beyonce and Emma Watson have done a great deal in getting more young women to investigate feminism but the average girl can't talk to Beyonce. It's like arriving at a party where you don't know anyone. If you feel like you don't belong, you're going to leave.

This is why it's important that as feminists, we uphold the idea that all women have the equal opportunity to make choices and should be seeking to expand those choices, not limit them based on our own ideas of femininity or on our own personal lifestyles and preferences. Our collective power is increased by using the power we have as individuals to reach out to others like us, but we diminish that power when we exclude those who aren't instead of helping them find their place.

I'm not going to play the role of Phyllis Schlafly and fight against others who are trying to expand choices for my fellow women. I'm not going to play the role of a Fox News commentator and discourage ANY woman from voting, no matter how she plans on voting, because I know how hard women fought for that right.

I'm not going to play queen of the world as a young, white, cisgender, middle class girl and dictate the needs and preferences of other women. I'm going to shut up and listen and support the policies that help my fellow human beings. I'm going to be there for those girls who enjoy reading fashion magazines, listening to pop music, and dating when they start to investigate feminism and help them understand that feminism is about them and every woman having the opportunity to be the women they want to be and not be treated unequally based on their gender.

I'm going to be a big sister to kids like these who at their ages know exactly what it is they are saying and are part of the new generation of suffragists. I want these kids fighting beside me for equality, not against me when the message they get is that they aren't welcome in the conversation because some people don't like princess costumes or a word they used or think they are incapable of intelligent thought and understanding complex ideas.

Some feminists wear conservative clothing and don't use salty language. Some feminists wear short skirts and might say "shit" if they drop something. Some feminists dress up as princesses and drop F bombs.