By Kate Harding, Salon Broadsheet
You could be forgiven, reading this article by Gemma Soames about “the new feminists,” for thinking you’d woken up in 1994. Hey, you guys, did you know there are self-identified feminists who admit to liking lipstick and high heels and retro dresses? It’s true! And also, there’s this woman named Katie Roiphe, who doesn’t relate to those hairy, stinky old feminists from the ’70s. And oh my god, have you seen that new show, “Friends”? I totally want that Rachel chick’s hair!
Seriously, my first thought when I read this article was “I choose my choice!” — and even that’s a woefully outdated reference. On the upside, when I Googled that phrase to find the article I just linked to, I also ran across a relevant blog post by Lisa Jervis (hey, did you know there’s this new magazine about feminism and pop culture that reclaims the word “bitch”?), in which she discusses the tension between respecting women’s individual choices and trying to preserve a definition of feminism that goes beyond, say, Soames’ cutesy explanation of the “new feminist” agenda: “The right to do what the hell you like, however you like, in heels — if you like.” (Oh, ha, it’s so true! Female empowerment in the 21st century = selfish behavior with zero reflection! It’s like you read my diary, Gemma!) Writes Jervis, “How can we deal with this? Can we find the right place on the continuum between uncritical acceptance of every woman’s ‘I’m doing it for me‘ boob job… and actually writing those Feminist Clubhouse Rules that some people think we have?”
Great question. Except, even asking it is capitulating to a false binary similar to the one created by journalists like Soames nearly two decades ago, not that Soames noticed it. As a “young” feminist (at least by the standards of an article that invokes Courtney Love as a current style icon) who does indeed love lipstick and retro dresses, I can’t tell you how sick I am of reading articles that feature a bunch of self-proclaimed feminists somewhat closer to my age than Gloria Steinem’s going on about how ridiculous second-wavers were for acting as if women were, you know, oppressed or something.
Read the rest here.