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An Open Letter to “Good Feminists”

In her November 2013 post for JWA’s blog, Marissa Harrington-Verb wrote about the challenges and critiques her mother faced with regard to her attachment parenting. Many people, including women, would critique Marissa’s mother for her very involved approach to parenting. Ultimately, Marissa argued that feminism is the freedom to make a choice. I could not agree more with Marissa’s point. After reading her article, I thought of some experiences I have had myself, such as the backlash I get for being what some may consider not a good feminist. I was inspired to write an open letter to the critics that Marissa’s mother and many other women have encountered or will encounter throughout their lives:

Dear “Good Feminists,”

So you think you’ve mastered the art of being a “feminist.” Well actually, I think it’s quite the opposite. You slut shame the girl who wears something that’s “suggestive” because she’s just giving in to sexist objectification, but you also shake your head at the “conservative” girls who have chosen to “degrade” themselves by wearing long skirts or hijabs. You whisper about the stay-at-home mom because she chose not to “have it all.” You think you’re doing right by feminism, but all you’re doing is tearing other women down.

You probably don’t like girls like me either. Some may consider me a “girly-girl.” I’m not what some may think of as a typical feminist. I like clothes. I LOVE fashion. I love pink. I like doing my hair, makeup, nails, shaving etc. Some people may think that these interests mean that I’m conforming to a patriarchal society. I beg to differ. Yeah ok, I’ll admit it: I’m a little “basic,” but that’s okay because I’m basic by choice. I like slaving away on my Instagram theme because it brings out the artist in me. Also, I actually just really like skinny vanilla lattes. And there’s nothing wrong with that! I have chosen to be a girly girl, and to be frank, I think that’s pretty badass. Or maybe it’s not even being a girly girl that’s badass, but rather the fact that I make my own decisions.

I mean isn’t that what feminism’s all about? Does feminism not advocate for equality? Does the freedom to make your own choices and decisions not come with that? How can you say that you are warriors for equality and justice when you can’t even hold back your incessant criticism of other people’s lifestyle choices?

As feminists, it is our job to support each other no matter what lifestyle we choose. It is never ok to be a “mean girl” and tear each other down. Only when we stop criticizing each other will we be able to progress. So, the next time you shame someone for wearing a short skirt or for deciding to be a soccer mom, think about what your actions are truly doing. You are working against the movement in which you claim to be such a strong believer. Also, keep in mind that the definition of a movement is: “a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas.” If feminism is a movement, then it must involve unification. Therefore, us feminists need to stick up for each other and work together to promote acceptance and equality.

Sincerely,

A Feminist

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Rising Voices Fellow Ariela Basson
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2015-2016 Rising Voices Fellow Ariela Basson as a child
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How to cite this page

Bickel, Ariela. "An Open Letter to “Good Feminists”." 15 February 2016. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 15, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/open-letter-to-good-feminists>.

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