1. People assume that to be a good feminist is to embody masculine qualities. That the goal of feminism is to empower women by inspiring them to behave more like men. This should go without saying, but the problem here is that the imbalance of what we idealize still exists, even if the humans embodying the two have shifted.
2. People tend to define women one-dimensionally, so you sometimes feel as though you have to choose between seeming “intelligent” or “attractive.” You’re brutally aware of how people enjoy compartmentalizing women as their single most outstanding trait and then dismissing everything else: if you’re smart then you can’t be sexy, if you’re rich then you can’t be happy. It’s as though it would be absolutely insane for a woman to actually have more than one positive thing in her life, so she has to be lying or faking another.
3. It’s been suggested that your success is probably the result of you look a certain way, or because you found your way into the bedroom of a certain higher-up. The unspoken message is: “there’s no way you achieved this on your own, so here’s the most obvious way it would be possible.”
4. You acknowledge society’s warped consumerist-driven beauty standards, but still wear makeup, as you realize the problem is taking too seriously what was made for fun. People assume you can’t be conscious of the social impact of the cosmetics industry as well as self-aware enough to know how you you want to express yourself and your body. They assume that loving makeup is a product of your own insecurity, rather than your empowerment as an individual.
5. People almost use your love for traditionally “girly things” against you. They say “but you still shop there!” almost with a hint of “aha!” in their voice, their unspoken point being that you don’t truly believe in feminism, because if you did, you’d see through “society” and live as a recluse that’s never seen the inside of a Sephora.
6. People still (somehow) assume that a sexy selfie indicates a lack of self-respect. Or that a general interest in appearance is shallow and out-of-character for a “feminist.” But sexy selfies are empowering. A lack of self-respect is feeling like you can’t portray yourself in appealing light because women can either be smart or hot, not the opposite way around.
7. If you’re in a heterosexual relationship, people just assume you’ve fallen victim to the patriarchy, if you’re in a homosexual relationship, people ask who the “boy” is. Because truly, what is anything if it is not defined in light of a penis?
8. People claim it’s easier for you to have confidence because you appear a certain way. This implies that confidence is essentially based in what other people perceive of you, and completely disregards all the self-work you’ve done to actually take pride in who you are regardless of those external factors.
9. You feel as though you’re almost constantly policing yourself so as not to say anything very gender-stereotypical (“I like when my boyfriend holds a door for me, it’s just a nice gesture.”) Because making a statement like that would have to come with a two minute follow-up on how you understand that some people find it weirdly offensive but that the opinion in question is genuinely yours, not a product of your patriarchically-conditioned mind.
10. You find yourself feeling as though you have to justify very basic interests, activities and opinions. Such as liking to cook, or take care of your partner, or to be a mother, or not work full-time for the rest of your life. One slip and your feminist card could be revoked by the nearest judgmental non-feminist (an actual feminist would know it’s not about the interest itself, but in making sure that one’s desire to do it comes from a genuine place, rather than a socially imposed one.)
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