I’m That Bitch in Heels and I Need Feminism | By Julia Rudko

From October 22-26, The Wanderer Online is participating in the “Who Needs Feminism?” Call to Action Week, which you can read more about here. Throughout the week, we’ll be posting 2-4 articles per day where writers answer the question “I need feminism because…” If you’re interested in writing something, please send us your piece at wnfualberta@gmail.com.

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I know this is going to garner a collective eye roll from everyone reading this, but here it goes. Truth: I have worn high heels to class. And not those sissy kitten heels, either. Sometimes the desire to wear my comfy-as-hell 6-inch platform booties strikes and I just go with it. Why the hell not? I’m 5’1, and occasionally I like to be able to see something other than the armpits of strangers while I walk through crowded halls on campus. Not to mention I swear the air is fresher up there.

I’m not saying it’s the most practical idea I’ve ever had (those LRT station escalators are treacherous as it is!), but it made me feel damn fancy, and it sure as hell doesn’t inconvenience anyone else… or does it?

Most of us have done it, or at least witnessed it. The exasperated sigh, the raised eyebrow, and the snotty comment to a friend about the girl in her 8 AM stats class topping off a pencil skirt outfit with perfectly-coiffed hair (because clearly someone dressed well so early doesn’t care at all about school). The Facebook status about witnessing a girl hop off the bus to attend a lecture in her stilettos (God, who with half a brain wears those on public transit?).  In my experience, the words associated with any girl making a conscious effort to “dress up” for school are never positive: dumb, airheaded, vain, bitchy, pretentious, and the ever-tasteless slutty.

Of course, on the flip side, many of us (including me) are guilty of directing this behaviour at the opposite demographic: the comfort-seekers. The girls who roll out of bed in their sweats and ponytail, brush their teeth, and head straight to campus without a second thought (did she look in a mirror before she left the house today?). What about your lab partner who’s still dripping with post-workout sweat in her U of A hoodie when she shows up for a lecture (is she not aware that appearances really do count for something?)? Do we not inwardly groan when we see these people, these “lazy”, “slobby”, “unfashionable” people, and later complain to our peers about how little effort many of these girls put into their appearance?

We do. And when I say “we”, let’s me make it clear that I mean those identifying themselves as females. Males are not exempt from this behaviour, but I think it’s safe to say they do not spend nearly as much time picking apart and judging each other’s appearances as most females seem to do. There are a thousand speculations as to why we do this, from personal insecurities to our need for dominance, but the fact is we do do it, and we know it’s not right.

When The Wanderer made their call for “Who Needs Feminism?” articles, I knew exactly what I wanted to bring to the table. Feminism is broad-sweeping, applicable to a thousand topics, and arguably means something slightly different for everyone.  I consider myself a feminist in many ways, while a lot of people would roll their eyes at the fact I claim this while I shun wearing pants at all possible opportunities and pack my boyfriend a lunch to take to work most days. However I was raised by a woman with strong feminist ideals, and learned from early on in life that feminism, at its core, can be defined by female strength, empowerment, and camaraderie.

You may disagree with how feminism relates to things like pornography, abortion, or the work place, but I hope not in regards to how we relate with each other. The dissention amongst women caused by the constant judgement and ridicule of one another because something as simple as the way we choose to dress ourselves in the morning completely undermines the decades we have spent working together to be an equal and accepted gender in society. How are men supposed to take us seriously as politicians, scientists, or even partners in a relationship if we can’t even respect one another? We have bigger issues to worry about as a collective (gender discrimination in education worldwide, rape culture, and equal pay, hello!) than who wore their pajamas to physiology, why the girl next to you bothered with applying her fake eyelashes that morning to write a midterm, and why you even care in the first place. So in the spirit of feminism, this week I ask you to put away your stereotypes and your critiques and remember to respect the other women  around you, because they are just that: other women.

I may be that bitch in heels, but I need feminism, too.

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  • Lauren

    Hi there!

    Interesting article – my one concern, however, is this: your argument hinges mostly on women judging other women based on how they choose to dress themselves. When one goes into say, an interview, regardless of gender, you’re very likely to be judged based on how you present yourself.

    I’m not totally convinced that this is a feminism issue as much as it is an issue that relates to judging others based on their looks. Yes, women are judging women, and men are judging women too – but don’t we also judge men based on how they dress?

    • Julia

      I acknowledge in the article that this is something we all do to each other regardless of gender, but girl versus girl seems to be the most common and the most drastic. I also point out that this becomes an issue of feminism in how it undermines the collective identity and purpose of women. Perhaps a re-read is in order. 🙂

      • Lauren

        I read the whole article, and I know that you mentioned how this is something that is done regardless of gender – I’m just not convinced that “girl versus girl seems to be the most common and the most drastic” – isn’t that pigeonholing women?

  • anonymous

    I can’t help but feel troubled when you wrote: “How are men supposed to take us seriously as politicians, scientists, or even partners in a relationship if we can’t even respect one another?”

    I may be interpreting this out-of-context but doe this not imply that the social positions of women are dependent on how men perceive them? I was under the impression that the social position of women is independent on how men perceive them, at least according to the dogmas of feminism.

    • Julia

      Idealism versus reality, alas. While I wish it weren’t so, many men stil discredit women based solely on gender (case in point: the belief that women are “crazy” one week out of every month), which I think is difficult to argue against. And these men are still a part of the ones who make up half the eligible voters, MORE than half of the scientific community, and (often) half of a relationship. So I would say yes, you’ve taken it out of context.

  • Anon

    @Anonymous: I think her arguement is that we need to stop the infighting if we are to tackle the larger issues at hand. You can’t present yourself as a united front against oppression and criticize other women for trivial matters in the same breathe, and by the same token it’s really easy for a dominant hegemony to turn around and say “How can they make demands of us if they can’t even figure out what they want in their own group?” and us such logic to brush off anything we see as a concern. It’s not about how men view women; it’s about reconciling with our own cause so we can create a stronger and more cohesive force behind our argument.

  • Ian Ironwood

    I don’t need feminism. But it’s cute to watch.

    Look, feminism, regardless of how you define it, has been great for women. For men, it has had all the appeal of a particularly amorous burly cellmate. Feminism has treated men so badly that anything associated with it these days is automatically discounted by men. It’s not your constant back-biting and infighting about shoes that makes us not take you seriously — that just means you’re feminine. What makes us not take you seriously is much more how you place appearances above performance, you insist on fairness when its in your interest yet turn a blind eye to it when it is not, and how you seem to say one thing and do another all the time. When feminism starts being more about a dialog between the genders and not a pedantic list of demands that ignore our interests, then there’s a chance we’ll take you seriously.

    Until then, watching y’all tear each other up is almost as much fun as professional hokey. And a lot more bloody.

    • Steph

      Amen.
      At the heart of feminism is gender equality, but inappropriate applications of modern day feminism have truly just become misandry. Soon men will need their own movement.

      In regards to the article, bravo. Yours is exactly the kind of feminism I need.

  • Second mentor

    Hi Julia,
    Never expected to read thís from you, nice written.

    Cheers
    Your mentor in second year College.