Hey lady, I want to talk about feminism today, why I’m a feminist (no I don’t hate men), and what it has to do with acne.
The feminist movement has a terrible stigma and the word pretty much repels people on principle. When people hear it they automatically think it means:
- That feminism means hating men
- That feminism means wanting women to have more rights or somehow have higher status than men in society
- That feminism won’t respect their desires to do “woman things” like wear makeup, cook, sew, or be a stay at home mom
- That feminism doesn’t seem to get it that we already have equal rights and opportunities, so what’s the big dealio
- That feminism makes you into a victim, and that isn’t empowering
Feminism is a philosophy and a movement, and like all groups of people, there are going to be extremists who preach, get it all wrong, and give everyone a bad reputation, essentially turning people away before they even understand what it’s all about. I’m sorry if you’ve ever had a bad run in with a feminist.
Here’s the dictionary definition of feminism:
1. the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2. organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
So there you go. Not about hating men or wanting women to be ‘better’ than men, or that all men are bad. I too love my husband, and adore my male friends, and want us all to be equal.
Here’s a definition of feminism, from my perspective. It means:
Equality Not Only in Opportunity But In Societal Attitudes
Equality is what feminism means. Sure, in most developed countries these days, women do technically have the same rights and opportunities as men. And I am not denying that we certainly have it better here than in many countries in the world. We definitely do.
But every day we still do live with issues of respect and attitudes that are limiting to women, which is so normalized that we don’t even notice them. The repercussions of them become so ingrained in us that we don’t notice that some of the pain we suffer may be due to these societal attitudes.
Of course every woman’s negative experience with these societal attitudes will be different – some people’s pain more extreme than others depending on your own experiences.
What I mean by this:
Things Associated with Being A Woman Are Generally Considered to be Not as Good
Okay, for one, a big problem is that just in general things that are associated with being a woman are considered to be not nearly as good or worthy of respect as things associated with men. And we as a society have a long history of this.
This is why men are taught to not show emotion because – its considered to be a sign of “weakness”, like a woman. “You run like a girl”. Etc etc.
So anyway, the problem is not whether or not you want to be a homemaker or you want to be a politician, the problem is that women can’t seem to win here.
If you are going to be a mom, a homemaker or you like to sew or cook, for example, that role is considered generally to be less “important” or worthy of respect. However, if you want to be a lawmaker or, say, a welder or a carpenter, many women in these positions face enormous sexual harassment and disrespect, which causes many women to shy away from entering these professions.
What feminism aims for is to have respect for women no matter what they choose to do. There may be biological differences that perhaps make more women drawn to typically ‘women roles’ and men to typically ‘male roles’, but those are generalizations.
Women’s roles should not be seen as “less than” and women who do not want to adhere to typical women’s roles should have every opportunity and respect.
A Woman’s Worth is Determined by Her Looks & Sexuality
Next problem, and this is how this ties into acne….. women unfortunately have been taught that how we look and what we do sexually is how society determines whether we’re worthy of respect as a human being.
You’ll notice this in the way that women constantly get shamed for their sexual behaviour, respect increasingly revoked the more promiscuous you are, where as men are often glorified for their accomplishments in the bedroom (oh, but if you don’t sleep with guys or do adventurous things in the bedroom, you’re a prude, so again you can’t win).
You’ll also notice that in media and ads, we tend to be reduced to sexual objects to sell things. You’ll see women half naked being sexually turned on by a hamburger, but seeing a man do the same thing would be ridiculous.
You also may notice that in media, movies, and ads, women only come in one flavour. What’s considered “attractive” is an extremely narrow box of young, skinny yet curvy, big boobed, white women with symmetrical faces and clear, wrinkle free skin that doesn’t even have pores. This is the only thing you ever see. And of course, what you see is often created via high paid makeup artists and photoshop, so none of it is really realistic.
Yet women are always stood up against this impossible pedestal. Everything we do depends on how we look.
If a woman accomplishes great things, it doesn’t matter, someone will try to tear her down by commenting on her looks.
Do something a man doesn’t like? Doesn’t matter what it is, it’s a good excuse to rip apart your appearance, or call you a slut or other rude name.
Don’t look like a typical Hollywood babe? You’re ridiculed in the movies and are not worthy of respect and love.
Men have issues with looks and body image as well, but at least if you’re a man and don’t fit in the “box”, you can still be funny or something, and get some respect. Women, it’s just all about looks and that’s that.
What This All Leads to Just Is Not Good for Women
By reducing us to objects, ruling over our sexuality, determining our worth via our looks, and the general attitude that “womenly stuff” just isn’t as “good”…. it means that we become less than human.
And that certainly makes it easier for some men – as well as fellow women – to call us names, disrespect us, limit us, harass us, beat us, rape us, degrade us, and ignore us.
What this leads to is that when and if women get sexually abused (which is sadly a lot more common than you’d ever think, unless of course you’ve experienced it, in which case you already know), people either don’t believe them, or ask them “what were you wearing? what were you doing?”… essentially “what did you do to deserve this?”.
People don’t focus on why men are sexually abusing women. We just ask what the woman was doing to invite it. Which of course leads to a lifetime of shame and hurt. Same goes for physical or verbal violence.
It also means that when women try to speak out about these issues – or even just trying to get our husbands to do their fair share of the housework – we are pushed aside with words such as “crazy” “jilted” “nagging” “emotional”.
And of course it also means a lifetime of insecurities about the way we look and what we do sexually. Which I think as women, is the one we can all agree on. It’s hard to meet a woman who isn’t at least somewhat insecure about the way she looks.
It’s why plastic surgery is all the rage. It’s why SO many women have eating disorders. It’s why acne hurts so. damn. bad.
So If You’ve Ever Felt Extreme Shame Over Acne, This is Why Feminism Matters
I was never what I would call a “feminist” until a couple of years ago. I never grew up feeling like I was missing out on opportunities, or that my opinion didn’t matter because I was a woman. And I was certainly lucky enough to have never been in an abusive relationship, or sexually abused in any way.
To me, back then, feminism was what you may have thought when you started reading this – something for “crazy ass, man-hating women”.
Plus, I considered myself “one of the guys” and didn’t want to look “uncool” in front of my male friends by saying anything that might have made me unwelcome in their tell all sessions (yes that looking back did contain many misogynistic things that we as a society just take for granted).
Inequality didn’t even really cross my mind at all, to be honest.
So, really, you might be asking…. if I never felt oppressed in any way, why do I care?
Because I was affected by our objectification culture, I just didn’t realize it.
Why else would the idea of going to the store without makeup send me into such a fearful friggin’ puddle-on-the-floor mess?
Why did I spend time worrying if I had slept with too many guys, or if I was too “vanilla” in the bedroom?
Why was I embarrassed about not being curvy enough to be ‘sexy’?
Why did I truly fear that if a man saw that I had a pimple, he would immediately forget all and everything else he liked about me, and just instantly lose all attraction?
Why was having severe acne the worst, most emotionally painful thing that had ever happened to me?
Let me tell you a little story.
Where I live in Canada, we’re due to have a massive earthquake hit us at some point. Maybe it’ll be in my lifetime, maybe not. But I remember when I was younger, sometimes I would think about what would happen if the earthquake actually hit, and the house fell down, and there was no water, and … everything was just a general mess.
The first thing that would always come to mind was not “oh wow, I’d really be upset that everyone was hurt or dead”. It was like “how would I survive not being able to wash my face or put on makeup? People would see me without makeup. They’d see my acne”.
I write that now and I shake my head, but I’m willing to bet you get it.
Acne is More Than Just a Skin Problem
This is why acne is not just an annoying skin problem. It’s so much more than that. It’s absolutely. fucking. soul. destroying.
Because when all of our worth is on our looks, acne comes along and robs us of every bit of respect and worth that we thought we had.
This is why feminism matters. It’s not easy to find self love and respect in a world like ours, but we have to start standing up and saying ‘Hey!! This isn’t cool. We ARE so much more than what we look like, and we deserve every respect no matter what we look like or what we choose to do’.
Otherwise acne and other physical ‘flaws’ will continue to rule our worlds, limit our potential, and control our lives.
Yeah. No thanks.
Lots of love,
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