At first it was thrilling to be a part of a conversation so huge, to know that there were so many other women out there with experiences just like mine. But then the trolls arrived, and it quickly turned from exciting to frustrating, to stressful, to distressing. By Friday I was just DONE. I couldn't handle one more man telling me how I should do feminism better, one more asshole calling Mr.Reluctant Femme names for defending feminism, one more cowardly deadshit telling my friends who've been assaulted that they deserved it. I usually put a great deal of effort into remaining reasonable when I talk about feminism. I don't actually think saying things like "Kill All Men" is all that helpful. But I was burned out, angry, hurt, and just DONE. I was really starting to feel like killing all men. So I made this, because it made me laugh and I needed a laugh.
|In case you can't read it, the little label says "Male Tears"|
|And it glows in the dark!|
|Incidentally, I'm the one remarking about feminism and|
humourlessness. The rest is strangers on the internet.
A couple of people criticised this pendant by asking rather pointedly "What are you doing to actually help women?" As a feminist who talks a lot on the internet about feminism, the question of words versus actions is one I think about a lot. It's very important to me to make an effort to keep my actions in line with my words. In terms of this necklace and what it does to help women, the answer is obviously nothing. It wasn't meant to. It was a joke, a release valve for steam that had been building all week, and it's not intended to help anyone but me, and maybe others who find it amusing.
But in terms of what I do every day to help other women, I think it is a fair question to raise, and one that deserves an answer. I talk big about feminism, but what do I do about it?
I don't generally go to rallies, I don't have significant amounts of money to donate to anything, and I don't have the time or energy in between earning enough money to survive to volunteer anywhere. I'd like to, one day, but right now I just don't have it in me. I put a lot of energy into supporting my female friends, which is part of feminism, I guess. But I don't do that in the name of feminism, I do it because they're amazing people and seeing them happy and succeeding makes me happy. There is one thing I put time into though, that I think really demonstrates my interest in supporting women in general - this blog.
|Subversive Femme's kickass Mardi Gras 2014 signage|
When I first started this blog, I wasn't 100 per cent where I wanted to go with it. I knew I had things that I wanted, nay, needed to say, and I knew I had pretty things I wanted to enjoy and share. For the first couple of months, I didn't really know how to bring these things together. If you go back and look at those early entries (please be kind, if you do) you can see that I'm very clearly flailing about, looking for something to really drive me. But then, through a group of unashamedly enabling ladies (you know who you are), I discovered Australian indie nail polish.
|There's so much glitter...it's just...it's too beautiful!|
There was, however, a little bit of cold hard reality between me and my ambition to make all the indie creators rich. While I'm happy to spend all the spare cash I have on the beautiful things these talented women come up with, my spare cash stash is too small to really help anyone in a significant way. But it occurred to me, what if I could convince OTHER people to spend their spare cash on these goodies as well? What if I could help pool together MANY small amounts of spare cash? I'm good at writing words, and taking pictures - surely I could convince some people to throw their money at indie creators. Surely if i could convince enough people, THAT would make a noticeable difference! Suddenly, I had no interest in reviewing mainstream brands anymore, and suddenly my little blog had a purpose.
|Image by Raw Poetry on Deviantart|
Part of what I want to do with Reluctant Femme is entirely intellectual - I want to encourage everyone to embrace femme fashion and cosmetics, and be a bit more comfortable with all that "girly" stuff. But the main reason I continue to write this blog is to convince you to spend money on products made by women, and support their businesses. (Well, most of the time - sometimes I'll tell you not to spend money on THAT particular product, but the general point stands). I don't point it out specifically very often, but almost all the creators I feature here, and the main beneficiaries of any sales I happen to generate, are women. I post here in order to convince you to support these determined, talented women, who are trying to carve out a corner of the marketplace for themselves. That's what drives me to spend hours looking at endless photos of my own nails, and cover my arms with eyeshadow, and actively seek out new creators and new products. I want to convince you to take money you might have given to Revlon, and give it to a woman trying to make ends meet instead.
This is my way of contributing to what other feminists call "sisterhood", my way of showing solidarity with other women. Even if I don't agree with them on all fronts - hell, some of them I don't agree with on many fronts at all - I still want to support them, because I think they deserve it. When it's so easy for women to get locked out of the workforce after having children, when women who are in the workforce tend to get paid less than their male co-workers, I think it's vital to support women with the courage and determination to step outside these boundaries and create their own sources of income and creative expression.
|Enamel badge "issued by|
Maybe that's not enough practical feminism enough for you - I know to some people it doesn't look like much, and compared to what some people contribute to "the cause", it isn't much. On the other hand, maybe you were just here for the pretties, didn't realise I had An Agenda, and now you feel horribly tricked by my revelation that it was a feminist trap all along! Regardless of how you judge my contribution, what I do here means a lot to me, and I know it does make a difference, if only to a few people. I know there are people who've bought from the creators I feature here because I featured them. I know there are at least a few dollars in the pockets of creators that I put there, even though they're not my dollars. And that feels really fucking good.
|I don't know about you, but I think "feel good", I think Calvin and Hobbes.|
I guess the TL:DR version of all this is that while I do make stupid, childish jokes sometimes about misandry and the suffering of men being delicious, I also do practical and helpful things to contribute to the lives of women around me - even when it looks like I'm just drooling over polish. But I couldn't be able to contribute anything of value if you all weren't willing to listen to me - so thank you, my loyal and lovely readers. Thank you for looking, and listening, and buying when you can. Thank you, both from me and the creators I feature, for running with my crazy idea of a feminist beauty blog, and making it so much more of a success than I ever anticipated.
EDIT: It's been pointed out I don't mention trans or gender variant people anywhere in this post - this is largely because to my mind, if you're a trans woman, then you're a woman, and therefore included everywhere I speak about women. BUT just to clarify, if you're non binary, or androgynous or not subject to cis male privilege for whatever reason, then I include you under the banner of people at a disadvantage in commercial marketplaces, and I will prioritise boosting your business over that of cisgender men. Hopefully that makes my position clearer.