#thefemistdilema

As conscious women we often spend a lot of wasted time explaining that feminism is not about hating men and growing out our armpit hair. Both men and women are so quick to vilanize the term feminism as an exclusionary term to bring men down, or lift women up alone, when that is far from the truth. I am a proud feminist who loves humans, of all shapes, sizes, colors, and gender. I believe that we are all equal and we need to stop dividing ourselves by arbitrary socially constructed classifications. We have this concept that because most people seem to live up to the social idea of who they are based on gender and race, that these standards are actual hard-wired into our DNA, and this is far from the truth. While there are small differences between young boys and girls in terms of emotional IQ as children, this gap widens exponentially as they get older, but why? People like to believe that it’s biological, and to a certain extent it is, however studies are starting to show that experiences can highly influence the biological makeup of our brains. No study has conclusively found that gender is all nurture and no nature, or vise versa, what they have found is that gender is more fluid than we allow it to be. We have created such rigid standards for gender for both men and women that it becomes hard for us to live up to those ideals, and at the same time it is hard to live outside of those ideals, both because of social pressures, and the way those social pressures affect the way our brains develop. What people often don’t realize about feminism is that we want to break down gender stereotypes for both genders, fight against the idea that women are inherently emotional and that men are inherently not, that boys have to be strong and tough and women damsels in distress, that an empowered woman is a bitch while an empowered man is assertive. Putting ourselves and our fellow man in boxes of gender creates a repressed society of people scared to be themselves. It would be so beautiful to have the opportunity to see how diverse and interesting this world could be if people just felt free to be who the really are.
Now the social concept of race, is far more complicated, I can’t begin to dive into it right now, but what I will say is that I believe that in a society where race didn’t matter then race wouldn’t matter. It’s so simple because there really are no inherent differences between races outside of aesthetics. If we didn’t work so hard to divide ourselves, then we would be able to live as the human race and not hate other people because they have more or less melanin than us. Racism wouldn’t happen because we would all be born into the same opportunities, and we would see each other as equals. That’s the America, and world that I want to live in.

#thehealthyfeminist

Sometimes I feel a conflict between my desire to be healthy and active and also being a feminist, are these things mutually exclusive? As a feminist I’m expected to tell everyone their body is beautiful, and while I believe that, my “health conscience”, the part of my brain that reminds me what is healthy and what is not, is always reminding me that many body types and lifestyles are unhealthy. That’s not to say that being overweight is inherently unhealthy, or that being thin is inherently healthy, there is a big grey area here. But what people cannot argue with is that carrying around fat on your belly is at worst bad for you, at best neutral for your health. Am I not a feminist when I remind someone that this excess fat is n=detrimental to their health, is that me body shaming them? Is it really in everyone’s best interest to tell them to love their body at the expense of their health?

I have a friend who has put on some pounds since she had a baby, her boyfriend says he likes the extra weight and encourages her to keep it. She seemed to be struggling with her reaction to this, she thought that him loving her body should make her okay with it too. We have this idea that a man who loves our body when it’s larger is very evolved and that we should thank him for accepting us, in reality we should accept and love ourselves the way we are, but if we don’t like something about ourselves then we should change it. She felt like she should be happy with her body because because he likes it even though it doesn’t fit into the social construct of what her body should look like. While she should appreciate her accepting her the way she is, she doesn’t have to settle for that body just because he likes it. It’s funny how a man liking a woman when she is bigger is evolved and accepting, but when a man is no longer attracted to a woman because she has gained weight and no longer looks how she did during their initial attraction, he’s an asshole.

I was once watching a youtube video by  in which she said “if I were 120 pounds eating a pizza in my underwear on tumblr I would be ‘quirky’ and ‘cute’ and ‘real’, but if I’m 300 pounds and I’m eating a pizza in my underwear people are like ‘you’re killing yourself’ ‘you’re disgusting’ ‘you’re everything that’s wrong with America”

As much as my healthy lifestyle is about being a healthier person and not just the number on the scale, I am not immune to the social pressure to have the “perfect body”. I do find myself worrying less about the number on the scale, and more about the person in the mirror, but I don’t know if that is progress because I still pinch the love handles of that person in the mirror. Is it wrong for me to want to be skinny, to have perky breasts and a firm butt? Am I still a feminist even when I want a flat stomach? Is it irresponsible for me to tell a woman to love her body the way it is without encouraging her to take care of it?

#tobeornottobesexual

Female sexuality is both taboo and in your face, it has a dichotomy rivaled by few other topics. Our entire lives we are told to show our bodies, but don’t be a slut. Men want us all to sleep with them, but if we sleep with too many, again, we are sluts. Navigating the world as a young girl coming into womanhood can be more complicated than college level calculus. The funny thing is a lot of the toughest criticisms of women comes from other women, we call each other fat, then in retaliation spout pseudo-female empowerment mantra’s like “real women have curves”. We are constantly trying to exclude other from womanhood by defining it by our own standards. It makes me so sad to watch us taking each other down, it makes it that much easier for predatory men to take advantage of us.

We are so quick to be critical of the sexual decisions that other women make and to position ourselves above those that make more reckless decisions without ever taking the time to wonder why that woman may have made that choice. I spent a lot of time making risky sexual decisions myself, sometimes it was because I wanted to, others it was because I had spent a lot of my life being told I wasn’t pretty enough, or pretty at all. I was a tall pale girl with acne, it was not a good look. The first boy to ever be interested in me just wanted sex, but he told me I was beautiful while he was fucking me, that was the first time anyone had told me that. I began to only feel really good about myself when a man wanted to sleep with me, but afterwards I felt worse than ever because it never made them stay. I had no idea how to be the girl on the date and not the girl in the bed, so for a long time I was just the girl in the bed. I thought I was “sexually liberated” when in reality I was just sad and lost. It wasn’t until I met my current boyfriend that I realized that I was smart, and interesting, and funny, and most importantly beautiful, even with my clothes on.

The moral of the story is to not judge without knowing, let people be who they are without trying to tear them down, and most importantly tell other women you know and meet that they are beautiful, and smart, and worthy, because we all know society will not do it for us.