I’d normally do a roundup on Friday, but after all the brouhaha yesterday I wanted to write a follow up post and talking about the many complicated issues involved with bodies, being a woman, and how I feel about feminism. First though, you should go check out the incredibly thoughtful followup post by Venusian*Glow, who was the author of the guest post.
Background on the guest post:
I got a wide range of responses to this post, both in my inbox and via Twitter. Reactions ranged from “What’s the big deal?” to “You’re promoting sexism and hate all gay people/transgender people/women/skinny women” to “I’ve been waiting to see a post like this for a long time and it’s lovely.” The fact that so many different people could have such strong reactions to a post that was a numbered list is fascinating to me. As I said in the comments yesterday, I read through the post before putting it up and I don’t agree with all of the items. Some I love very strongly (reading in the bath with your Kindle when you have big boobs is an awesome perk) and others give me some trepidation. That said, I didn’t feel it was fair to censor any of it because I’ve heard full busted women make all of these statements on multiple occasions. That fact that Eternal Voyageur interviewed her full busted friends lends more weight to my theory. Whether you like them or not, these are commonplace statements that full busted women make about their bodies to each other in small groups.
So about this feminism/sexism thing:
I’ve been thinking about all of this heavily over the last few days because I’ve been reading Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in these issues. Caitlin argues that feminism can be found in a series of small every day decisions rather than in the halls of academia. The way we talk to each other is about feminism. Whether we get a bikini wax or not and why involves feminism. The way we treat our boobs and our sexual selves is about feminism. Basically, all of those “fluffy” issues we women discuss every day are a workbook of feminist theory that we can explore and learn from.
To make a long argument short, I think that the fact that we’ve accepted this kind of talk privately isn’t so great. But I don’t think refusing to talk about it in a public forum is the solution, and ultimately why I didn’t take down the post despite getting a migraine’s worth of grief over it. Why is it okay to tell your friend that she has traffic accident level cleavage and not have it as a list item in a blog post? If one is sexist and unfeminist, surely the other is as well. Except in an internet forum, I saw exactly that interaction two days ago and it was positive and meant to be empowering. I honestly think the woman in question took it as a compliment and the person saying it meant it as one. Now whether that’s okay is a different question, but refusing to air these kinds of statements in public and pretend they don’t exist isn’t responsible either. I saw some incredibly passionate and intelligent discussion of this stuff on Twitter yesterday as a result of that post. Obviously getting there without offending lots of people is an ideal, but tell me how often you discuss feminist issues on a Thursday passionately without some kind of starter annoyance. Isn’t true feminism being able to have a discussion and explore these issues together as women rather than pretending we’re saying something different in private than in public? I think Caitlin Moran would argue that the feminism is in the exploration rather than in the answer, which I’m inclined to agree with.
On body talk and bigotry:
I think talking about our bodies is extra hard on the internet, but that’s where lots of the discussion is at these days. I’m with Eternal Voyageur on this: how do we talk about the things we love about ourselves without insinuating that it’s better than something else? If I tell someone I love my J cup boobs should they assume I think whatever they have is inferior? Please note, I’m not dismissing the issues that people had with the wording in the post yesterday. I understand and agree with where the commentators were coming from, but I’d also like some alternative suggestions as well.
One of the solutions posited yesterday was that I should write a post on the benefits of being small busted as a followup. I’d love to do that, but I can’t, because I’m not small busted. It would in-authentic and not well informed. This doesn’t mean I don’t love small busted women, but just because I love something doesn’t make me an expert. On a side note, if readers would like to guest post on these topics I’d love to run them.
And here’s the rub: I’m a big supporter of people of all body sizes, orientations, genders and proclivities. However, that doesn’t mean I can write about them authentically or do them justice in an article. I’m also a firm believer that not writing these articles does not make me a hateful bigot, and should be an acceptable choice. More and more bloggers these days are asking this very question: How can we show our support for all kinds of diversity without having to be an expert in it all?
Lastly, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. These are complicated issues that need exploring, and all view points are welcome. Please leave some discussion in the comments!