This week, as Game of Thrones prepares for its 7th season, actor Maisie Williams made headlines saying that she doesn't think the word 'feminist' should exist. You have to read the article (great clickbait Huff post, well done!) to find out that she isn't denying the oppression of women, but rather suggesting we do a cultural about-turn and assume every person is a feminist thus needing only a word for people who deviate from that norm, eg, "sexist'.
"I remember thinking, 'Isn't that just like everyone?' And then I realised everyone is not a feminist, unfortunately. But I also feel like we should stop calling feminists 'feminists' and just start calling people who aren't feminist 'sexist' — and then everyone else is just a human. You are either a normal person or a sexist."*
It's a very hopeful 'fake it to make it' mentality making feminism our cultural norm. Nice one Maisie.
We've always considered ourselves feminists here at Loose Debra, simply because we're on a mission for freedom, comfort and non-comformity in the interests of women who want to be bra-free. Like Maisie Williams, we don't feel feminism is in the least extreme, it's just normal. Luckily women don't need to burn our bras anymore, but round these parts, we can certainly 'lose' them and still bounce on a trampoline...
But we've got a bit of a beef. This week a reader suggested our style sense was 'anti-feminist', pointing to an 'obsession' with ruffles and frills. 'They're too 'girly', ' too soft and pretty'. Well, can we put you straight on this?
1. Ruffles aren't 'girly' they are ruffles.
2. Feminists can be soft as well as strong (and so can ruffles).
3. We don't just do ruffles and frills - check our multiple Pinterest Boards for brafree styling ideas ranging from statement tops, to menswear, to drapes and pleats to halters and Steam Punk and Western inspiration.
And 4) If you really think ruffles are anti-feminist, then you're missing the point about feminism. A feminist has the choice to dress in as many flouncy pink ruffles as she or he likes, and still be seen as a strong person with value and rights. It's about equality,... not weird, fantasy stereotyping.
The great Maya Angelou once made a misleading quip about feminism. Asked if she was a feminist the poet famously replied
"I'm a feminist. I've been a female for a long time. It'd be stupid not to be on my own side".
But feminism has never been about taking sides - it's about equality and mutual respect. Men benefit hugely from feminism. Feminism means they are able to have authentic and respectful relationships with an extra 50% of the population! Women do too because feminism means they have a shot at being fully valued for all they do. You know, like men are.
The word 'feminist' needs to be reclaimed (rather than gotten rid of Maisie Williams-style) because there's really nothing negative about it. Despite bad press and negative connotations (it's 'man-hating', "extreme' etc, aww - just sooo bored with that old rubbish) the description is actually a badge of honour.
Being 'feminine', however. Well, that's a made up concept traditionally associated with softness rather than power. But these days a ruffled blouse can signify just as much power as a full tuxedo. Thanks to all those wonderful feminists who've reclaimed their voices over the years, and those who did actually go as far as setting fire to their bras, there is now no need to wear mens' clothes to feel empowered. A cold-shouldered Bardot top will announce strength, ease and style (worn with flats and no bra of course!).
So, we say, feel free to pick up your ruffles for brafree style as they are all over the High Street right now. The shops are awash with unapologetic frills and flounces announcing confidence and conviction in the wearer. If you're freeing yourself from a bra these styles give great nipple coverage and distract from flatness, adding volume and interest to the chest. So reach for the ruffles, hold your head high, and give yourself full permission to burn that bra for good**.
What does being a feminist mean to you?
Are you comfortable with the word?
Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter
*from i-D magazine
** should you choose to, of course. Ahem.