Fashioning feminism

Feminine girls shouldn’t shy away from embracing feminism.

Bored on the train home, I began questioning whether I have any real hobbies. Almost immediately, I thought, “Shopping!” and then instantly felt ashamed because shopping is “girly.”

But really, I have always been girly, which is perhaps why people get confused when I say I’m a feminist. That’s right, guys: I am a flaming feminist. In grade school, I witnessed and experienced teasing. I saw girls being teased by boys, and other girls, for not acting or looking a certain way, and my feminist roots grew.

If people ever doubted my position as a feminist, they were men or they were women who are completely against the movement. An old female friend of mine once insisted that I wasn’t “manly” enough to be a feminist – which Screen shot 2010-10-04 at 6.40.20 PMdoesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I’m proud to be a woman, and I realize how often I am told not to be. In the end, I wonder whether people see me as a feminist or whether my “femme” wardrobe is louder than my opinions.

“Dressing up is a way of playing gender,” said Laura Levitt, the director of the women’s studies program. “Dressing up and being feminine is an agent of desire for women.”

Levitt said playing the part of one’s gender is natural.

But it seems somewhere along the line, “feminine” and “stupid” became near synonyms, and what is girly or feminine is usually invalidated.

It doesn’t have to be that way, ladies. Women can wear dresses and still maintain power, instead of conforming to what men do to be successful out of tradition or fear.

“The underlying question is, ‘What are you afraid of?’” Levitt said of those women who may reject feminism for fear of the social repercussions. “Rejection of the movement can usually be traced back to the fear of being seen as [a lesbian] or undesirable to men.”

Strong female characters exist for certain religions, but few of these women are well-known. Unlike the women in Christianity – who were usually being killed or having their loved ones killed – Durga, a Hindu goddess, was powerful. She was ruthless, rode a lion and used her beauty to lure enemies in before she killed them.

It’s OK for a woman to take pride in her gender, even if it is in a more classical sense. It is OK for women to be powerful and girlie, but the only way for society to get used to women who are both feminine and commanding is for more women to exude these features. The first step to becoming a feminist is to understand the shame we as women have been made to feel and then purge ourselves of it. So that’s what I did, and continue to do, while looking stylish.

Mia Cammisa can be reached at

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