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Myth-busting: You can be Feminine and Feminist both!

Dust away whatever is stopping you from wearing your jhumkas and lipstick, you can be feminine and feminist both

What a woman wears to how she speaks to the way she walks and behaves, she needs to follow a certain style and tone to prove that she is a feminist. The idea of feminism is certainly seen as you hate men, you don’t wear make-up, you don’t shave, you’re always angry, you hate bras, you think women should always be in charge, you don’t have a sense of humour, you don’t use deodorant, you are emotionless, strong and in short, you should not be feminine. And well, this is the biggest myth around the idea of feminism, that feminine and feminist can’t coexist. And here, dear feme, let’s make it loud and clear, you can be feminine, and you can be feminist. That feminine and feminist can coexist.

Remember the recent trend of calling out Bollywood actresses preaching to them about ‘real feminism’ and comparing them with Mirabai Chanu, the Indian weightlifter, when she won the Silver in the Tokyo Olympics? And the situation was repeated when Manika Batra won her match against Margaryta Pesotska.

Actresses including Swara Bhasker, Sonam Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu, Neha Dhupia etc. all were targeted. Well, so, here’s the point. As these posts were flourishing, gratefully many opinions came to identify these posts to be nonsensical. And the basic reason behind the same comes down to the fact that the actresses were called out because they are feminine.

Also Read: What Feminism Should Look Like, These 3 Women Will Teach You

Here’re some of the flawed ideas that lead to the construction of this opinion that feminine and feminist can’t coexist

The misconception that all feminists are always bold and strong (especially physically)

Feminists are often thought of as women who are physically strong and bold. People associate feminists with women as those who could fight their battles alone. In the effort of promoting mental and physical strength, these strengths are often appropriated for a woman to be a feminist. Can a woman who doesn’t appear to be very strong not be a feminist?

Women who are outspoken, angry and loud

Well, this is the most important one. Women with soft voices, who are emotional are often considered weak and of course feminine. And this is utterly contrasting to the misconception that feminists are always bold and strong.

Applying makeup, wearing feminine clothes, wearing earrings make women less feminist

In the text, We Should All Be Feminist, the author explains an incident where for the first time, she thought in a writing class and that was a worrying experience for her. And what was worrying her was what she should wear. She wanted to be taken seriously and looking too feminine might fail to prove her so because of the thoughts of society. “I was worried that if I looked too feminine, I would not be taken seriously. I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt, but I decided not to. I wore a very serious, very manly and very ugly suit” the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes.

Women are always subjected to prove themselves, and if anywhere, their behaviour and clothes and emotions make them look any less serious, they become at risk of not being taken seriously. The conscious or the subconscious reasons for why the female actresses were criticised was certainly because of the fact that that they look beautiful, they like looking beautiful, they like having soft skin, they like makeup, they like grooming, they like wearing earrings, they like styling their hair, wearing stylish dresses, painting their nails etc.

For society, they are the women who fit in the idea that what they practise are girly things, and the girls are weak. And as feminism is misperceived as something that’s associated with strongness, people raised questions on their (the actresses) feminism.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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