Before I start, please don’t get offended. This is simply the mad ramblings of a confused woman. Thanks in advance!
Once upon a time, I’d have looked up to seemingly feminist characters like Jameela Jamil. She appeared to be someone who really gave a shit about people, wasn’t afraid to say the stuff that everyone else was afraid to say, and would call out anyone who behaved inappropriately or offensively. She even has the words “FEMINIST-IN-PROGRESS” in her Twitter bio.
But at what point do you go from being on one side of feminism to the other? Extremist? Too far over the line?
What does feminism even mean?
1 – the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2 – (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3 – Older Use. feminine character.
Related words – sisterhood, womanism.
I notice that the dictionary definition of feminism doesn’t mention anything about women being equal to each other; just women being equal to men. But surely equality among women is the starting point of it all? Sisterhood?
How can we expect men to treat us better – equal – when we can’t even agree on how equally to treat each other?
I always thought that feminism meant being a woman and doing whatever it was that empowered you or made you happy, without limits being put on you just because you’re a woman. If you want to wear a bra, wear it. If you want to burn it, burn it. If you want to let your pubes grow so long that you can plait them and throw a few blingy accessories in there, feel free. Do your thing. Be your best self.
I believed that feminism meant equality — men and women equal, side by side.
And also women standing side by side, equal to each other.
But what does it really mean? Feminism. And how do you need to act to BE a feminist or support feminism? What do you need to say? What can and can’t you advocate?
Kim Kardashian said this:
“For me, a feminist is someone who advocates for the civil and social rights and liberties of all people, regardless of their gender; anyone who believes that women should have the same choices and opportunities as men when it comes to education and employment, their bodies and their lifestyles … Of course I want these things! I’m all about empowering and uplifting women.”
This was during a 2016 post on a blog no longer available (but found on Grazia), in which she says she doesn’t like to call herself a feminist.
“But why do we have to put labels on things?”
One person who definitely labels themselves as a feminist is Jameela Jamil. Jameela has done wonderful things for feminism and a lot of other causes, standing up and having a voice for women, LGBTQ communities, and more, but I believe that lines have been crossed too. The little “vendetta” she seems to have for Kim Kardashian and the rest of Kardashian-Jenner clan … Well, that’s not empowering women or giving them equal rights. There are times where the tweets do come across as bashing, not calling-out or educating, and that’s bashing on a massive scale. She has just shy of 860K followers on Twitter, which means there are 860K people reading what she has to say. Being a former teacher, she must be aware of the power of her words — how much power she has in her hands. Especially to followers younger than herself. And even more so when her tweets are dressed up as consumer-driven warnings: ‘Be careful what you say to your many millions of followers, Kim.’
And let’s just take a look at Kim K for a moment, shall we? What’s everyone’s problem with her these days, anyway? Because I see women with “feminist” in their bios slagging her off something ridiculous on Twitter.
Yes, she made a porno [TWELVE years ago], got famous for virtually no reason whatsoever, and … well, that’s kinda it really, isn’t it? What else did she do “wrong”? Be a bit annoying? You should try spending half an hour with me when I’m feeling restless, then you’ll see what annoying really is. Kim K ain’t got shit on me. And *I’ve* made a porno. Who hasn’t? Sadly, I’m not famous for no reason whatsoever. I’d be a lot richer if that were the case.
But what has Kim K seriously done wrong? She’s maybe/probably had some plastic surgery, but she’s not shouting about it. She’s not telling the rest of us that we should have it. We don’t have to follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. We can press that block button just as easily as we can press the follow one. She’s just out there living her best life. Yes, she’s failed with the ol’ Photoshop. Yes, she has promoted diet products that are ill-advised and I *do* agree with a certain amount of calling-out when world-famous celebrities are promoting and endorsing products that are potentially dangerous, but again, there are lines … and those lines are frequently, deliberately, and offensively crossed, especially on social media. And that’s not how you educate people. Shouting louder or more offensively doesn’t make more people listen to you. It just makes the wrong people listen to you, or it conveys the wrong kind of message.
But what else has Kim K done “wrong” that makes her worthy of constant internet cruelness, jibes, vendettas, and mockery, from men and women everywhere, globally, daily? I see it. I read it.
Kim K has moved on from being a porn star. She stood by and loyally defended her husband when he battled mental health problems and the entire world mocked him. (Including myself, yes, I hold my hands up. I’m sorry, Kanye. I was an ignorant twat.) But didn’t we all say: “Give it a couple of years and she’ll move onto the next chap?” She hasn’t, has she? She’s stayed with him through what I imagine were really shitty, difficult times. They’re still (what looks like) very much loved up, she’s created a lovely little family, and she’s trying to better herself – trying to better the WORLD, by going on to study law and help people who don’t have the money or resources to help themselves. Passing along some of that positivity. I read that she helped to get people of colour out of jail who were given sentences longer than what would have been given to white folk. That’s a serious achievement and she absolutely deserves the credit for being a part of it.
But even when she’s trying to do her bit to reform a seriously corrupt legal system, men and women are still hating on her. And for what exactly? That porno? Her choice in baby names? The way she ugly cries in KUWTK?
Kim K has even learned lessons, changing her business name when consumers were upset about cultural appropriation, and apologising for making the mistake. She probably didn’t need to do that. I saw twice as many people saying they WOULD buy the one-legged shorts than people calling her out on the name, but she listened to what people were saying — how offensive those complainers were finding her — and she changed. She learned and she changed.
Isn’t that what we want? Change? Growth? Becoming more mature? Becoming a better person? Learning from your mistakes, apologising for the ones that upset people and then moving on, hopefully, to not repeat them again? From where I’m sitting, it kinda looks like Kim K is doing that – very publicly. Or are we just focusing so hard and so determinedly on the “bad” stuff she did at some point in her past to recognise any good that she’s trying to do right now? People SHOULD be held accountable for their actions, of course. But for how long?
And then there’s that damn body makeup. It was at this point that I kinda shook my head at Jameela. Sally Hansen has been making body makeup for legs, etc., for years, yet Kim K was the one that Jameela chose to take a dig at. Another public call-out. I’ve been wearing Sally Hansen body makeup on my legs and arms to help cover scars, blemishes, and white pastiness for years … but now Jameela says that we shouldn’t? Why? Because Kim K came out with the idea most recently? Or is it because we should love our bodies more? Because sometimes, loving yourself more means doing what you gotta do in order to feel good enough to leave the house. For me, and for many other women, that means make up — some kind of war paint.
We SHOULD love ourselves more. We SHOULD be happy with what we have and not want to change it or cover it over. But, for fuck’s sake, Jameela, sometimes we just wanna feel good about ourselves. If that means wearing some damn glittery cream on our legs – THAT’S BASICALLY NO DIFFERENT FROM FAKE TAN – why not let us just get on with it? Kim K didn’t use her skin condition to sell the product*; she shared one of her body issues with us, along with a product she created to help combat it. We aren’t being forced to buy it. No one’s holding a gun to our heads and digitally frogmarching us to Kim K’s website to buy it. There’s no “weaponising” of scars or psoriasis or stretch marks, as Jameela suggested. Kim simply created a product that there was already a market for. I’m pretty sure that makes her a savvy businesswoman, no? No weaponry involved. Or is Sally Hansen weaponising scars and psoriasis and stretch marks too?
(*Okay, so Kim used her skin condition to sell the product a bit, but that’s just smart marketing, yo.)
And that’s the problem these days: the lines are blurred. Feminism is being used as just another thinly-disguised wagon of hate by some. I don’t know if I’m allowed to call myself a feminist. I’m not sure what it means. I don’t know if I WANT to be a feminist. I certainly don’t want to be one if being a feminist means dragging other women down in the name of “feminism” but not allowing men to do the same. That’s ‘female privilege’, isn’t it??
I want to be the kind of feminist that thinks women should or should not wear makeup because they do or don’t want to. They should wear what they want. They should love whoever they want, fuck whoever they want, and be friends with whoever they want. I want to be the kind of feminist that makes other women feel good about themselves, congratulating them on the release of a new product, the birth of a new baby, a new haircut, or a new man; not one that pulls down their achievements because it doesn’t quite fit in with my way of thinking, feeling, or living.
I want women to get the job they so desire and reach the heights that, once upon a time, only men would have been able to reach. I want women to get everything they’ve ever wanted in life.
But I also want to be the kind of feminist that thinks that men deserve and should have the same rights. And the LGBTQ community. And my cat. Okay, maybe the cat is going a bit too far, but you know what I mean. Just let everyone do their thing — live their lives. Let people just wear the damn leg makeup if they want to.
“I think we should all just be working every day towards being kinder to, and more accepting of ourselves.”
~ Jameela Jamil
“We should probably be kinder to, and more accepting of one another too… regardless of gender.”
> In the spirit of being fair and feminist, Jameela did post the following –
I was thinking about how I can sometimes, in my passion, not take into account how much tone is lost in written text, and how I understand how that must rub people up the wrong way sometimes. Working on it. Listening. Hearing you always. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/gKo2XFl6W1
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) 27 June 2019
Thanks for coming to my confused chat today, folks. Feel free to throw all of your comments at me.
What is feminism to you? Are you a feminist?