Dress, Please: The Feminism of Femininity

1950s-pin-up-girlI am girly as fuck.

If you need clarification, since saying something is “as fuck” doesn’t actually fall on a measurable scale, that’s understandable. I enjoy traditionally female attributes and activities. Sewing is my jam, I’d always rather wear a dress, and my Texas sheet cake could win awards. My favorite songs are showtunes and Jane Austen is my fairy godmother. A romantic comedy doesn’t hit theaters, without me buying a ticket. I am girly as fuck.

I am also a feminist.

If your mind didn’t just explode, well done. You’re a rational human being! All too often, this juxtaposition makes people on both sides of the political spectrum itchy. How can you be a true feminist, if you enjoy traditional domesticity? You’re too pretty and happy to be a feminist! Where is your man-hating pant suit? Their faces scrunch up in painful frustration, like racoons touching an electrified garbage can, as if a feminine feminist is the ultimate conundrum. People who have nothing in common politically are united in one truth: my existence is impossible. I am no longer their favorite client or friend from high school, but a contrarian unicorn. I need to be fixed, I need to realize I am wrong.

Well, that’s a load of glittery unicorn vomit. Feminists are people and people are different. Surprise! How many times do I have to say this, world? You can’t pigeonhole people into tidy little boxes, because of the causes they support or interests they develop. I am a feminist who sews frilly, ruffled dresses all the time. I believe wholeheartedly in gender equality and baking cakes from scratch. From a feminist standpoint, I understand the impulse to eschew the traditional. For so long, we were told our place was in the kitchen, so why hop right back into it, once we’re free? Well, because I like to. Demonizing the traditionally feminine seems just as wrong as insisting we adhere to it. There is nothing inherently oppressive about traditionally gendered activities, because gender is a social construct. We labeled sewing as a “chick thing;” we determined men hate romantic storylines. Surely, we can now unlabel them?

I grew up in a house that challenged gender definitions at every turn. My dad, a man perfectly secure in his “masculinity,” cries at the drop of a hat. His favorite flick is Notting Hill and he taught me how to bake chocolate chip cookies. Meanwhile, my mother has never met a grill she didn’t love and rolls her eyes at sentimentality. She’s perfectly happy to leave the vacuuming to my dad and, instead, drink a good beer after work. And you know what? Our house never imploded.

If we removed societal constructs from activities, we’d be amazed by what people chose to do with their lives. How many boys were destined for Broadway, but are instead accountants? Things are finally changing, when it comes to women doing traditionally male activities, so why are we still demonizing the feminine? We praise women for becoming sports announcers, but give them the side-eye when they want to be stay-at-home moms. What the hell? At the end of the day, people shouldn’t be judged by their gender. Jimmy should be able to bake, if he wants to, and so should I.

gil-elvgren-pin-up-pin-up-girls-5444093-668-792Dresses are comfortable and I love them. I also love being paid the same amount as male doctors and not mopping my floors. I am a feminist and I am a woman, whatever that means. It doesn’t make me a bad feminist to curl my hair, or a good one to not care about it. I am not that simple and neither is the equality movement.

Strictly speaking, I’m not girly as fuck at all. I’m Grace as fuck.

– Grace