"I need feminism because… my gender expression should be empowering, not limiting"
I hate the word “empowerment” when used in context with females. I used it once and I almost hate myself for it.
In my mind, it just makes us feel like losers who need constant support and “empowerment” to be who we truly are and to love ourselves as we are… Because apparently a woman who doesn’t fit into the western beauty standard or ideal is never going to naturally love herself? We have constant ads and campaigns that are constantly reminding us that we are beautiful, despite X, Y or Z reasons, and I will tell you why this is often problematic…
We can all relate to those situations where somebodies child has run too enthusiastically, tripped on their own feet, and stacks it. More often than not, the child is going to get up, look around, and when they discover that no one is there to sympathize with them they just keep running. However, as soon as an adult swoops down upon the child and basically interrogates the poor thing on how bad the pain is, it starts crying.
What the adult is basically doing is reminding the child that they’ve been hurt and encourages the reaction of crying by constantly asking things like, “are you okay” or “is everything alright”. You say those things to people who are upset, so when you say them to someone who isn’t upset it evokes those emotions. The kid does have reason to be upset, but naturally it isn’t. The crying was simply a result of interference.
Just like the overprotective adult dotting on the relatively unhurt kid until it cries, the same goes with the media dotting on us women. They constantly bombard self acceptance and self appreciation (which isn’t a bad thing), but it is done with such ferocity that the women in question eventually take on the same doubts that the advertisements presume we already have. They question whether their thighs are too thick because they are constantly told to love their thighs and they should never been ashamed of them. It just begs the question why would I be ashamed of them, is there something to be ashamed about? Cue self loathing and size obsessions.
You see female actors constantly praised for portraying “empowering” characters such as Lena Dunham for being so normal and real-girl like, or Zooey Deshanel for being confident and proud of her girly girl self or even Jennifer Lawrence for being a strong and courageous alpha woman. Is every type of girl so unique that we have to constantly remind them that they are beautiful and amazing just the way they are so they don’t become self conscious? Why is there such a need to constantly empower women for already being who they are and true to themselves?
Now I know not everyone feels this way. I know there are fellow ladies out there who thrive off characters they can relate to and who feel better about their flaws if flawed actors are being recognised. I personally don’t. I’m glad these women are acting in the roles that they and I’m glad we get such diverse characters, but getting a gold medal for simply being who you are almost trivializes the whole concept, and to me it is just disappointingly condescending.
I’m not trying to undermine anyone’s beliefs or ideologies here… I simply want to share a different viewpoint on the matter and maybe challenge peoples thought processes. Otherwise we can all just agree to disagree. What I would be interested in, however, is if anyone else feels or thinks about the issue in the same way?