Last week, a Twitter friend posted a link to this article saying he approved of it, and agreed with it.
My first thought, embarrassingly enough, was shame. Because I related to the woman she’s calling out in the article. Because I am the woman she’s calling out in the article, to some extent. I may not meet all of the criteria, but the basic bones of that woman are mine. My self-esteem, irreparably damaged by years of bullying, is still not strong enough to stand up to an attack. “Oh,” I thought. “Oh, everything I love is wrong. Everything I thought I loved is just what society is telling me to love because I am angling to get a man. Oh. Look how weak I’ve been, how infantilized, without even knowing it. This woman is a real woman, so she must know.”
Then I slept on it. And I woke up enraged. Because we Etsy-loving, Converse-wearing women, who are all cutesy-cute and twee? We are also capable of rage. And it does not come out as rainbows and kittens and sunshine.
Who the hell is this woman, to tell me what I like is wrong, to tell me that what I enjoy is society trying to make me into a little girl? Who made her God(dess) of all things? Who put her in charge of feminism, and told her that her way is the only right way? That sounds a lot like dictatorship to me, actually.
Here are the things, in case you didn’t click through, that Ms. Klausner says are not proper for a “real” woman (with stars after the ones I especially enjoy):
Ukuleles, cotton candy, bunny rabbits*, Whoopie pies*, craft fairs*, kitten ephemera, shopping on Etsy* (shopping on Etsy is economically intelligent, supports small business, and you get one-of-a-kind jewelry. What exactly is there to dislike about this? Because she mentions it a number of times. Did an Etsian TP her house or something?), Converse sneakers* with mini skirts, birds*, tattoos that you won’t grow into (the illustration was a perfectly normal rabbit tattoo, actually classier than most, so I’m not sure what this meant), women with Masters Degrees searching for life partners (I’m not starring this, but I do have a Masters Degree, and I guess a life partner would be ok?) , rainbows* (who the hell doesn’t like rainbows?), Girl Scout Cookies* (again, everyone likes these), laughing a lot*(um, Julie Klausner, it’s like you HATE AMERICA), rompers, Skittles Sours, glittery lip gloss, lip gloss that tastes like Dr. Pepper*(shut UP JULIE KLAUSNER, Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers = the best lip gloss in the world), LA Noire, frozen yogurt*, pigtails*, Ring Pops
And here are the things that she insists you must do, as a “real” woman:
Read something written before you were born, stand up straight, own one piece of jewelry you didn’t buy on Etsy, use capital letters in an email to a guy you want to date, let the guy take you on a real date (rather than a walk or to play Xbox), go out with a friend for wine, watch a movie with no early-90’s nostalgic appeal
There are a couple of good points made here. Rompers are only good if you are under the age of two, and, yes, please, for the love of all that’s holy, read something written before you were born! Stand up straight! Use capital letters (and punctuation! And grammar!)
But don’t tell me I’m infantilizing myself if I like these things. Don’t tell me I’m less of a woman if I do, or that I’m doing them to get a man (because hey, if I am? Spoiler alert: IT’S NOT WORKING.)
Upon the re-read, I came across this sentence, which stood out to me:
“Not that his idea of you should influence your style, or your sense of self-worth. But I feel like in a way, it already sort of has?”
OK, HIS idea of you shouldn’t influence your style, or sense of worth. But HER idea of you – Julie Klausner’s idea of you – should influence you. Because she is the feminist ideal. She is what you should aspire to be. She is right, and you are wrong, and silly, and what you like is infantile and juvenile and all kinds of incorrect, so shame, shame on you for thinking you liked it because you have personal choice in the matter. You chose what you like because society molded your childish little brain into thinking you should like those things, and also to get a man, not because you like it. Because you are stupid, and you are weak, and you are not a real woman. Not if you like these things, you're not.
So listen. Most of my jewelry comes from Etsy. I own more pairs of Converse than any other type of shoe, although I’ve stopped wearing them as often because they’re aren’t as comfortable as they used to be. I have a tattoo – I like to think I didn’t need to grow into it, because I chose it, I designed it, and it rides my shoulder proudly as the first thing I did for myself when I moved out of my home state years ago. I own more Lip Smackers than lipstick, because I’m too pale to carry off lipstick without looking like I’m trying to play dress up (and failing).
And I laugh. A LOT. More than I cry, actually. And you know who makes me laugh the most? Other women. Who don’t fit Ms. Klausner’s ideal mold. Who are quirky and intelligent and flawed and absolutely the most amazing people. I wouldn’t trade a single one of these women in for this elusive ideal, this boring, stodgy, ideal woman who apparently wears K-Mart jewelry, doesn’t laugh, drinks too much, watches foreign films, and reads no modern literature. I’ll take my women, my brilliant, pigtailed, Girl-Scout-cookie-eating, stuffed-animal-owning, anime-watching, video-game playing kindred spirits. And we’ll laugh - a lot. Because we’re perfect, just the way we are. And we don’t need anyone to tell us otherwise.
"The universal social pressure upon women to be all alike, and do all the same things, and to be content with identical restrictions, has resulted...in terrible suffering in the lives of exceptional women..." --Anna Garlin Spencer