Feminism Starter Kit - Not just for Women's Day

Last week I got to witness first hand how badly the media is fucking young women up these days, and it’s been brewing and blubbering away in my mind for a week now. What better day to write about it than International Women’s Day? Well, the day after that. Because these issues are relevant every day, not just once a year. 

I was talking to a young woman, a healthy, good looking, 25 year old gal who has a university degree, a job, and is currently doing some further education as well.

“Shit, I really shouldn’t have eaten that junk food”, she said out of the blue, “I’m on a diet. I really shouldn’t have eaten that. But I was having a bad day and I wanted it. But I really really shouldn’t have. I’m on a diet. I need to lose weight.”

Turns out she wanted to lose a certain amount of weight until her birthday in summer. Because she wanted to give her birthday a positive spin.

Sorry, what?

She explained how she's really loved her birthdays but over the years she’s begun to dread them more and more and now she’s really dreading turning 26 so she wanted to at least make her 26th birthday the one where she reached her weight loss goal.

Dreading her 26th birthday? Why on earth...?

Her: I don’t want to get older. I don’t feel like 26. I don’t want to get wrinkles.
Me (laughing): I like wrinkles. And scars, they…
Her (appaled): Oh no, I hate scars!
Me: …but they show what a person has experienced. As do wrinkles.
Her: Okay, so then why are all these 40 year old men going for 20 year old women who have no wrinkles and those perfect bodies?
Me: …


Yes. I was standing across from a 25 year old woman who is concerned about having to look like a 20 year old because everyone knows that's what men want - 20 year old perky breasted wrinkle free girls.

I was flabbergasted. I went home thinking about what I had just heard, wondering, grasping for understanding. I was truly upset. Because, while I've always been surrounded by women who are, like me, masters at humorous self-deprecation, never would any of us string their words together to form sentences like “I have to be wrinkle-free and perky-breasted and look like a 20 year old in order to attract a man”.

I knew the media is fucking up women’s feelings of self-worth, but it had never hit me in the face like in that one conversation. 

The problem is that while these young women are singing along to anthems like Pink’s “Fucking Perfect” they're also leafing through those cursed women’s magazines that tell them the exact opposite. They’re telling them how they have to look ever younger, thinner, sexier, more feminine, more pleasing. To men. Or to triumph over other women.

These days I can’t even open those damn magazines without getting hives. They’re going all pseudo-feminist, telling heartwarming stories about female celebrities being "so so strong" and self-confident and oh-so-can-you. And then you turn the page and find a gigantic article about how to look good for your high school reunion. Oh no, sorry, not “good” but rather “15 years younger” – because apparently that is what counts. The accompanying images even go so far as to insinuate bitch-fighting (see "triumph over other women").

And women who read these magazines (and there are a lot of them, women and magazines), they eat all that up, and somehow they manage not to choke on the contradictions those glossy pages feed them. And then we find ourselves in conversations with 25 year old women who quite obviously know they're not supposed to feel like this but who are still worried about not finding a man who will love them with all their wrinkles and scars and love handles.

It truly hurts my heart because where do you start with that? How do you tell them that what they're reading is bullshit and that they really are going to be okay? That what makes them beautiful is within them?

Not only does it make me sad, I’m also fucking pissed. That's the reason I'm having a really hard time being eloquent right now. I’m angry that magazines and fashion are making women feel bad about themselves. I’m angry that women buy into it. I’m angry that feminism is still a swear word to many. I’m angry that we’re living in a time when not only the Rush Limbaughs of this world will call a woman a slut, but even women are calling other women sluts.

Are you a woman and don't consider yourself a feminist? You've never gotten the feeling that you're disadvantaged at all because of your gender? Well, neither did I once.
(btw: If you're a man you can be a feminist too, some fine examples of men are.)

Here's a little feminism starter kit I assembled. It's all easily digestible and you don't have to have a thing for academics - I myself am not the science type either - to get it. All this is only a tiny piece of feminism but it should give you a good start into the matter. It did for me.

1. You don't think you are treated as less equal in the workplace? You think you are paid the same as men? Go watch Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lily Ledbetter who fought admirably for her rights. And read this if you still think you're equal.

2. You call your girlfriends "biatch" and "slut" and "ho"? Don't. This 13-year old girl explains why slut-shaming is not okay. Bonus: I dare you to listen to Rush Limbaugh and not gag. (Nevermind that he doesn't get how birth control works.)

3. Watch the videos on Feminist Frequency about pop culture and gender. Watch all of them because they're excellent! But if you're pressed for time go for the ones about TV tropes because Anita's explanations will make you look more closely at the messages the media is feeding you.

4. And now look at the effects said media messages have on girls and women.

This really is just a starter. But let's not just be feminist and all about women's rights once a year on International Women's Day, okay? Let's do this every single day so that one day we don't have to fight anymore. Go to Miss Representation to get involved. It's a fantastic movement and I can't wait until I can finally see the movie too.


  1. (1/2)

    Thank you for this! I especially agree with 2) because I had so many run-ins with that kind of stuff lately.

    One guy told me I was prude because I wouldn't laugh at a photo that referred to a biker's girlfriend as a bitch. I tried to calmly explain that it doesn't have anything to do with being prude when you take offense at women being called a term that stands for female dogs. He didn't really respond to that, which is what always happens.

    Or when Jay-Z declared he wouldn't use "bitch" in his songs anymore because he has a daughter now ... but it was okay when you had a mother, two sisters, a wife and probably many female friends? I don't get it ...

    1. (2/2)

      I have no idea why saying "I'm a feminist" makes people think you hate men or like to burn bras. It's ridiculous and insulting. Feminism is about the equality of the sexes, how can that be a bad thing? (Unless you are a horrible person who wants to treat others like they are worth less than yourself.)
      I read an interview with the actress who plays Molly on "Sherlock" recently and she summed it up pretty good: "Seriously, though, I'd like every man who doesn't call himself a feminist to explain to the women in his life why he doesn't believe in equality for women."

      That's what I plan to ask the "Oh, you are a feminist"-people from now on.

    2. THAT is a really good way to answer those people. I shall remember it for myself :)