I’ve seen a couple of things lately that have put the beginnings of this post in my mind – but what’s really pushed it to the forefront was an email I received in the middle of last week. The person, was questioning various aspects of myself, and both the modern and retro aspects of pin up culture. The reason being that they were going to follow me on Twitter, but reading down my timeline they found that I was re-tweeting some feminist tweets. They told me found this problematic, because feminists hate men, and pin ups are there to be objectified by men.
So, first off I think we need to define feminism; the Oxford English Dictionary says that feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”; but I think that Urban Dictionary gets the definition a bit better, although there’s more of them and they’re all a little longer so I’ve shortened a couple to cover the most pertinent points: “the belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual & social equals to men…the basic idea of feminism revolves around the principle that just because human bodies are designed to perform certain procreative functions, biological elements need not dictate intellectual & social functions, capabilities, and rights…feminism by its nature, embraces the belief that all people are entitled to freedom and liberty within reason – including equal civil rights – and that discrimination should not be made based on gender, sexual orientation, skin color [sic], ethnicity, religion, culture, or lifestyle..a movement to end sexist oppression as well as domination relations; this does not only aim to make women equal to men, but all people equal to each other in rights”.
This person has also – it seems – being following me around the internet a little bit, as mention was made of a comment I posted on one of Elinor’s posts on her “The Nylon Swish” blog – where I suggested to Elinor that she shouldn’t have to dress in a way to subvert the unwanted attention of others; that viewpoint coming both from my feminist beliefs and my belief that we should all be able to wear what we please when we please (within the bounds of a general societal modesty i.e. no nudity in the high street) safe in the knowledge that our clothing choices won’t cause any sort of negativity towards our person (the murder of Sophie Lancaster being one example of what can happen because you “look different” (as an ‘ex-goth’ I can certainly attest to the abuse that one can receive from others for the silliest of reasons).
For me being part of the pin up culture and recalling the mid-century era with my dress, and even my furniture and home decor choices, isn’t “not feminist”, I think it’s the epitome of feminism – I’m making my own choices and decisions, I’m not following the crowd, I’m not fitting in with the media’s (current & often fleeting) definition of beauty; I’m being myself – the best version of me that I can be, and I’m happy doing it – I am a feminist, and I do this while keeping a level of femininity that I enjoy, fully aware and happy that other feminists “do it” differently, but are no less part of the cause.
Moreover, I stand up for all women, everywhere – whether they’re a pin up, a goth, a biker, or trying to follow the latest trends; I signed the “No More Page 3” petition because I don’t believe that a woman’s bare breasts belong in a so-called “family newspaper”; I support women who want to breastfeed their child in public without being hassled, because breasts are there for the nourishment of children more than to be stared at by strangers (plus, anyone who thinks breastfeeding involves a huge show of boob is a boob); I support a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body and when.
Being a pin up is by no way meant to say I’m not an advocate for women’s rights, it’s my personal aesthetic – feminism, and life, has taught me that anyone can be whoever they want, with whatever beliefs they want, as long as they do not negatively affect the life of another, or intend or aim to in any way.
I am a pin up. I am a feminist. I own my own body, my own image, the way that I am, and the way that I project myself; it may have been normal in the 1950s for a woman to be “seen and not heard” or to “do as she was told”, but in 2014 women have been enjoying many previously “male-only” privileges for quite some time, and I – along with my feminist brothers & sisters – will continue to work in whatever ways we can to ensure that all people are equal – regardless of gender, or any other binary label.
What about you, what does feminism mean to you, and do you see any correlation between feminism and manner of dress?