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Feminism prêt-à-porter

Disclaimer: this post is nothing more than a partial and simplified reconstruction of what I think and therefore it is absolutely subjective. I do not intend to offend, judge, represent any kind of gender category, or anyone who feels part of it. Should you feel in any way offended or hurt by this post, I kindly invite you to stay calm and friendly and to keep in mind the following timeless slogan: 'make love, not war'. With the most peaceful intentions, I wish you a good read!

I have thought for a long time to write about this topic that has always triggered mixed feelings within me. But when too many things want to come out all at once, they generally get stuck. And in fact I'm still not quite sure where to begin.

So I will start with a series of questions that I often ask myself; sometimes my answers over time have changed, sometimes they haven't, and some of these questions I still haven't really answered. After all, I have never had the arrogance to believe that I have all the answers, it is enough for me to know that I can always strive to seek the truth.

Here my questions and considerations.

What kind of society do we live in? Can our society still be defined as patriarchal? Why do we women continue to claim our human rights all over the world? Why do we raise our voices? Do we really consider ourselves here, in our western world, recognized as equal to men? What then does it mean to be 'equal'? Do we still need to put ourselves on a pedestal and praise feminism? Where do I stand on this issue? How do I feel about it? Should I also protest in the street or undress in public to prove a point? Should I protest in a way that is more consistent with my personality? Should I even protest at all? What should I be protesting about? Do we still need to be part of a protected category in order to have a chance to be part of the system? Does it make any sense to create scholarships only for women, parking spaces only for women, job positions only for women? I once won a scholarship for women in science. I didn't feel proud of myself, perhaps even belittled. Would I have won it if the competition had been open to everyone? If not, is it because men always have an advantage or because I simply deserved it less than others? Are we sure that this protective attitude towards women does not actually accentuate gender discrimination? Are we sure that it is not instead just an attempt to continue to allow society as a whole to believe that men and women are not on an equal footing and must therefore occupy different positions (on all fronts)? Why do we strive so hard to feel equal to men, but then it is precisely between women that the talk is always so sexist? Why do we look for a man to protect us, to make us feel desired, to support us? Maybe because, after all, men and women are different? Maybe because, in addition to reason, we also have a biological code that partially guides us? I think that it is dangerous and crazy to want to make people believe that men and women are equal, that they can do everything the same way. This somehow amounts to denying that man and woman have their own uniqueness, their own way of functioning, a deeper reason why they evolved the way they did in nature. Why do women insist on adapting to jobs, spaces, infrastructures, standards that have been created from the beginning by men for other men? Why should this make us feel gratified? How can we feel truly free and powerful if we still repress, or rather censor the flow of our impulses, emotions, feelings, thoughts? Why is a woman less of a woman if she makes a move, but at the same time a man more of a man if he does the same thing? In general, every mystery, everything that is not revealed, generates curiosity and therefore attraction. So why is it that if it is the man who is mysterious or withholds his feelings, after a while we lose interest and this law no longer applies? And why is it that if it is the woman who does it, it generally generates the opposite effect, and the more time passes, the more irresistible she becomes? Why is it that when a woman works surrounded by men she has to pay attention to the way she dresses, presents herself or speaks? And why do men feel entitled to critically observe and judge, at least internally, the way in which she 'offers' herself? Why does this not also apply in reverse?

I doubt that women’s emancipation has really taken place every time I hear, often from other women, that we should always appear gentle, delicate, resolute, calm, serious, polite, cautious, modest, pure, but also sexy, charismatic, mysterious, attractive, strong, emancipated, irreverent, depending on the circumstances. The whole package. We should not address a man in a certain way, we should not expose or reveal our feelings first in any interaction with the opposite sex. The woman must patiently wait for the man to make the first step. Exposure, impatience, clarity are symptoms of weakness, they say. On the other hand, living like beautiful, candid porcelain dolls who are only allowed to express themselves when questioned, expresses all our strength and capacity for self-control. I find this terrifying and disturbing.

Obviously, the female and male bodies are different. Some might say that the female body is more beautiful to look at, it is naturally inclined to be sensual and attractive. Therefore, a biological and chemical reaction is more likely to be triggered by looking at a woman's body than a man's. I am not opposed to this. But every chemical reaction, to be triggered, inevitably needs the coexistence of several factors, internal and external. Physical attraction is certainly a factor, but only one of them. Physical attraction usually happens in the short term, arising immediately, while mental attraction takes sometimes longer, develops slowly. As far as I am concerned, the latter is much more intense, dangerous, powerful. So, again, why do not women feel admitting their attraction to a man? Why men are not used to a woman revealing herself to them? Why is it not normal to express interest in men and tell them explicitly what we think? Why do we drag along this exhausting lie?

In nature, we witness a very different phenomenon. Females are in control, they move proactively towards their own pleasure, instinct and desire. The male often courts, because for biological reasons it is the female who has the 'last word', who chooses whit whom to reproduce with and give birth to offspring. Females in nature are strong, courageous, dominant. The hummingbirds of the Andes are a great example of this. The females stand on a branch and watch the wonderful dances that the males offer them. The males fluff all their feathers, direct them towards the rays of the sun, so as to reflect the light and make the wonderful colors of their plumage shine. Then they dance as if that were the only reason they were born. The females simply enjoy the show, judge the performance and ultimately choose the best mate without any qualms. Finally they position themselves, without much grace, and offer themselves to the male. Some may think that this proves exactly the opposite and that nothing different actually happens in our human society. Men court women and women simply pick the one they like best. But here I am not arguing or trying to contradict the most basic laws of biology and evolution of the species. I am only discussing intentions and pretensions. Female hummingbirds observe, judge, choose, express their preferences, offer themselves spontaneously, do not lie and do not repress their impulses. Can we women honestly say that we behave in the same way?

I have grown in a such male chauvinist society that I spent almost all my life rejecting all the rules, prejudices, common morality and especially the idea that I had to be a model girl first and a model wife then. When I was younger, I always felt a fire inside me, the need to prove my worth, to show that I could do what I wanted, how I wanted, even better than a man. I wanted to let everyone know how powerful, strong, determined, capable, smart, courageous I was. I liked it when people told me I was a male in a woman’s body. I used to take it as a compliment. Then I realized it made no sense. And that because I did not yet know that there was another way to feel good in my skin, to remain a woman and still express myself in my female body. Now I embrace the idea that I can be part of this world, simply as I am. I don’t want to feel equal to a man. I don’t want their jobs, their acknowledgments, their way of thinking, of acting, of living. I love men, they are wonderful human beings, and they do so well in the society they have built for themselves. Rather, I would like to live in a world that also welcomes women, in their beautiful diversity. I would like to see a society that adapts to women, instead of us adapting to it. I would like us to stop believing that being successful in this life necessarily means having a brilliant career, or a happy marriage, or a perfect life. Women has to choose at some point, whether to pursue their career or to stop, even if only briefly, and focus on building and raising a family. Both choices are equally valid. This should be perceived as an extra power we have, which we can use or not, not as a disadvantage. So why do we judge a woman if she gives up her career to bring a child into the world but also if she decides not to have a child to pursue her career? Because my feeling is that whatever we decide to do we are constantly being watched, tested and judged.

I do not feel that I still possess within me comprehensive and satisfactory answers, if anything mere ideas and uncomfortable opinions. I always have the feeling that I have not said everything or that I have not express myself in the best way. I therefore do not rule out returning to the subject in the future. I am aware that expressing my point of view will change absolutely nothing, but if nothing else, it helps me to calm my mind. As Fran Lebowitz once said, “The anger is, I have no power, yet I’m filled with opinions”.

So I leave my point of view here as it is, sincere and open. Any form of reply and (peaceful) discussion is welcome.

Lady Margot


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