LadyFag’s real talk about feminist righteousness

The truly awesome Sadie Magazine just launched a new issue, packed full of awesome interviews, reviews, and other literary stuff-n-things. I was particularly interested in a Q&A with model, fashionista, and blogger LadyFag. When asked if she is a feminist, she had this to say:

Yes, of course I’m a feminist. I was once at a dinner with a group of women who I always sort of felt alienated from. They were slightly extreme in their feminism, and while I love people who are strong in their beliefs, the way they were speaking, and in fact judging, other women, it made me think, the only people who are making me feel bad about being who I am as a strong woman are them. So, I announced that if they were all the voice of feminism, then I guess I’m not a feminist. It didn’t go over very well!

Sometimes I think that happens with women; it’s a jealousy thing. They were sitting there and discussing how wrong and misogynistic plastic surgery, high heels, and such were and how we shouldn’t have to do these things for other people, let alone men, and I knew it was partially directed at me—the only one sitting there in too much makeup and stilettos, and I thought, what gives them the right? I do what I want to feel good about myself, and that’s what makes me a strong woman. Even though they were all women, telling them to turn the mirror on themselves and fuck themselves was probably the most feminist thing I could have done.

I’ve heard this critique of feminist circles, including our own dysfunctional family of a feminist blogosphere, before. Where is the line between feminist critique and holier-than-thou litmus tests? Linda Hirshman, and other veteran feminists, have argued against what they see as a “whatever floats your boat” feminism that has taken hold, particularly among younger feminists. I hear her. I’m one of those people who think that in order for feminism to really mean something, it’s got to have some definition that–by definition–excludes some people whose beliefs or actions are outside the scope of what we collectively think of as feminist. On the other hand, the last thing I want to be identified with is a movement that makes people feel unfairly judged or held up to impossible standards.

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