Monday, April 14, 2014

This Just In - Reading Cosmo Makes You A Bad Feminist

Recently - as in today - Buzzfeed posted a quiz titled "Are You A Bad Feminist?". Immediately I was intrigued, and also a little scared, because what if I am a bad feminist? But then I realized something. And before I took the test, or even clicked on the link I was kind of angry.

Being a feminist is essentially subscribing to a belief system. No, it's not a religion. But being a feminist means you believe things that other people might not. It's just like being liberal, or Republican, or Atheist. And there is nothing worse than being told that you don't believe what you believe correctly. However, I went in to the quiz thinking that there might be questions like, "do you believe that people deserve rape?" or "is it okay for women to be paid less than men?" NOPE. Neither of those questions appeared. Nothing in that vein appeared AT ALL in fact.

There were 56 statements on the quiz, ranging from "you're quite fond of Kate Middleton" to "you read cosmo", "you shave your armpits", and "you've never seen Girls". The more you check off, apparently the worse of a feminist you become.

But here's the thing. Just because I've never seen Girls, I like nail art, Miley Cyrus, the occasional T Swifty song, shave my legs and armpits, never did roller derby or burlesque (HAHAHAHA imagine me trying to be sexy and sing and strip - no), and refuse to judge women who want to change their last names after getting married doesn't mean I'm a bad feminist, because being judged who I am as a woman is one of the many reasons I am a feminist. Correct me if I'm wrong, but along with gaining equal rights as a gender and getting equal pay and respect, I thought that being accepted for being a woman on my own terms was one of the big things that feminism stood for.

And I am tired, SO FREAKING TIRED, of being told through the media, through opinion polls, and by other feminists that I am a bad feminist because I wear dresses and make-up and spend roughly 45 minutes doing my hair.

Personally I go through a lot of "moods" when I'm feeling especially feministy (I'm a feminist all the time sometimes I'm just more loud about it). Most days I'm either Beyonce or Zooey Deschanel. And yeah, they are two very different people, but they are working for the same thing. Women to be accepted as women, who are strong, independent people, who can take control. Beyonce is aggressive about her stance on women's rights in her music, and Zooey works hard to get accepted as a real feminist because she's a girly girl.

I'm a girly girl. That is why I also identify with her. Like she said in an interview with Glamour magazine "I want to be a f-ing feminist and wear a f-ing peter pan collar, so f-ing what?" Women can still be strong and dominant no matter what they wear, even if its polka dot dresses and chunky headbands.

So how dare you, Buzzfeed writer Cate Sevilla, make women and young girls feel bad and not worthy of the feminist title that they proudly display for the world to see. A feminist who is working to make the world a better place for those around her and those who come after her is a good feminist, no matter what she wears, who she watches on tv, or what music she listens to. Anyone saying otherwise needs to re-evaluate why they became a feminist.

Peace, Love, and Equality,

The apparently problematic feminist, Alexis.

"I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the past 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children. And I find it fundamentally strange that you're not a dessert person. It freaks me out. I'm sorry that I don't like Murphy Brown. And I hate your pants suit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something just to make it slightly cuter but that doesn't mean I'm not smart, tough, and strong."
- Jess Day, "New Girl"

Alexis Olmstead is a proud feminist and avid New Girl viewer. When she isn't reading Buzzfeed articles and criticizing people who should know better than to mess with feminists, she is attempting to memorize an entire show in three weeks before opening night. For more rants, raves, and life updates, check back often. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Acting Men, Appearing Women.

"Men act and women appear."- John Berger

Why do we protect ugly men, but not ugly women? Before you jump at me with the whole "everyone is beautiful" thing, remember that beauty is subjective and dependent on personal taste. And so yes, everyone is beautiful, but what we as two completely separate people, reader, find beautiful is very, very different.

Anyways. When a man is less than the societal norm of attractive and someone points it out, there is always another person quick to step in and interject with qualities that make up for the fact he isn't as pretty as one might have wished. "Yeah, I know he's not super cute, but mylanta can he is so funny!" If a woman is less than the societal norm of attractive she isn't allowed qualities to make up for it, she is just ugly and the only thing to fix it is adding make-up or getting surgery or wearing a bag on her head.

And why? Why is this a thing? Why are men protected from being viewed as ugly in any circumstance while women are thrown under the ugly bus if their hair is wrong?

We could point fingers at the media, sending messages through television and movies that no matter what men look like, if their personality is good enough, or they fight hard enough, or they are a little less of an asshole they will end up with a girl, and not even just a girl, THE girl. But I don't think that is the whole problem. Because is we start blaming the media, we also have to pay attention to the fact that in most movies the men get awards and the women end up domesticated.

No, no. I think the problem goes far beyond media. We know that the men and women are viewed and why they are viewed differently is a mark of society as a whole and that most people blindly follow an example placed before them instead of questioning what they are doing and trying to make a change for the better, but where does that end? And how did it begin? Alexis Olmstead investigates.

The main problem is that from a young age women are taught that above all, we must be beautiful, we must be desirable, no one is going to want to be our friend, our boss, or our lover if we aren't good looking enough, because if we aren't pretty, then how will anyone know that we are also funny, and smart, and have other good traits about us? And I'm not just blowing smoke here. Studies have shown that women who are pretty are seen as having more good traits about them. If you read that whole article, you also read that women who are good looking are also more likely to conform, meaning that we, as a gender are referred to as ugly, there could be nothing wrong with us aesthetically, it could be that we refuse to blindly follow those who have gone on before us. But really, we, as a gender, cannot expect to still be considered funny, or smart, or kind if we are not what most people think of as pretty, we don't have that to fall back on. If one part of our self is seen as ugly, our entire being is then ugly.

But not men! If a man is less than 100% attractive he has a buffer, called his personality. I have never heard a guy make an excuse for dating someone his best friend thought was ugly by saying "yeah, but she has a great personality" but women do it all the time! And there is nothing wrong with that. People should date people for their personality, not for their looks. But there is something wrong with the fact that men can opt out of caring about their appearance because they aren't expected to wear make-up. And yeah, some of them may say they prefer girls who go natural and don't wear make-up, but their idea of natural beauty is still enhanced with cosmetics. Men aren't expected to have it together one hundred percent of the time, and in a world where Hilary Clinton is criticized in the news for not wearing make-up because it's "unprofessional", while her pudgy, red-faced, male-counterparts sit there and nothing is said about their appearance, this is painfully obvious.

Women we idolize are also adding to how men perceive us. Think about who is the most famous right now, and who appears in magazines. All of the women are runway ready most of the time. They workout, they go to the gym, they are always put together, and then the famous man bundle of today includes people like Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, and Will Ferrell. There is nothing wrong with any of these men, but they are famous and women are drooling all over them, yet they are ordinary looking dudes. In today's mainstream media, women have to be super models, men just have to be okay.

Here's the thing that I am realizing: pretty is being dumbed down. Pretty is ordinary and ordinary is ugly, in regards to women, that is. For men, ordinary is what does it for most people all across the board. Women are told consistently that they are never good enough so that they will buy in the billion dollar beauty industry and continue to do so for the rest of their lives. And just when women start to realize that they can be normal and still be considered pretty, someone or something, normally the patriarchy, finds a way to smack us right back down to where we were when we started and resign us to be the silent, passive beauties in the corner that history has resigned us to.

If a woman is ugly, she is going to be told she will go nowhere in life. And as (sadly) science has shown, she might not make it as far as a more attractive female. And if she does does become a higher up, people are going to think she is ugly and bossy anyways, so what's the point in fighting it? Nonconforming normal women, let's be ugly and proud, because no matter what, according to society, profoundly beautiful women will never be as good or deserving as ordinary men.

Alexis Olmstead is a part-time waitress and a full time diva living in sunny Okanogan County. She currently spends all of her time trying to memorize her lines so she will be off book when she is supposed to be. She is currently obsessing over Dancing With the Stars (go team M&M!) and attempting to write the perfect program bio. For more updates, check back every so often. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Stop Telling Me To Smile

Stop telling me I'm prettier when I smile. Stop telling me I shouldn't eat that. Stop ordering for me when we go out. I am not a barbie doll. If I wanted a smile painted on my face, I'd take care of it without any input from you. I am not a health nut. If I was, my ex-boyfriend wouldn't remind me that our first kiss happened while I was eating gummy bears. I am not perfect. If I were meant to be perfect, I would not be a human.
I am a woman. I am everything a man can be and maybe a bit more. I create life. And while I am busy preparing my body to bring forth life there is many a man out there being put away for taking a life out of this world.

I am a woman. I am pigeon-holed. Because my eyebrows arch over my sunglasses and I don't walk about with a smile pasted on my face, I am a bitch. I am bossy because I like things done right, a man with the same attributes is called a leader, and when I draw attention to this fact, I am called a femi-nazi, while a man doing the same thing is called a hero. I have lifted trays full of food with one arm for almost a year now and a man still ended his compliment of my strength with "for a girl". Let me remind you, sir, that it is women who are still pursuing change in the world. Let me remind all of you, that women are fighting along side men in everything, women are taking the world by storm. We aren't a dirty word or a second class citizen, we are humans, we are capable and we deserve equality.

I am apparently a liberal because I foolishly believe that everyone is equal. I am radical because I speak out against the sexism of the world. I am foolish and silly and even a tad naive for wanting women to be equal to men. For the equal pay act to mean women are paid equally. For sexism to quit existing. I am silly and "oh, just so young" when I talk to older generations about these issues because apparently as I continue living in the world I will realize how much of a foolish girl I am and change my mind on all of this. I will become complacent.

But what if I don't? What if I am still the girl who refuses to stop looking for change, to stop seeking a right to all this wrong? Then I suddenly become the eccentric Ms. Olmstead. The crazy lady who lives next door, the diehard try-hard. And people are embarrassed of me because there is nothing worse than an liberal old feminist woman. Except apparently for a young one.

Here's the thing. I'm not going to change the way I am or who I am until the world changes for me. I will continue to be upset when I called doll, or sweetie, or honey by condescending old men, I will continue to flip off strangers who tell me to smile and I will continue to take pride in the fact that I refuse to live by anyone's rules but my own, and call me stupid, but I feel like we could all accomplish more if that was more acceptable.