I don’t need feminism.
I hear that a lot. Sometimes I think it. It’s a hard thing to admit, but I think a lot of women feel the same. And I’ve come to realise that not only am I wrong; I’m very lucky I can be wrong.
Growing up I wasn’t drawn to anything stereotypically ‘feminine’. The only vague idea I had of ‘boys toys’ and ‘girls toys’ was the fact that they had different sections in the Argos catalogue, that girls stuff was invariably pink, and all the cool stuff (remote control cars, Science Kits, Spy gadgets) mostly had pictures of boys playing with them.
It didn’t bother me. I got my spy gear, my toy cars. I had a microscope and a telescope. I had a Magic Potion making kit, where everything tasted like palmaviolets.
I had other things – I had Skydancers, Polly Pockets, and pink roller skates. I read Enid Blyton and watched Disney Princesses. I didn’t avoid the pink things – just, invariable, the toys I liked came in blue. For a house with three sisters, we didn’t do an awful lot of Pink.
As I got older, pink started to offend me. It made me angry. Shirts that I liked, but which only came in pink. Shoes with pink on. Pink pens, bags. Pink pink pink. The world seemed to throw it at me – to shout This is for Girls! Girls are pink! We’ve made it so damn simple to shop even a Woman could do it – just aim for the pink, put it on, and be female.
My wardrobe was jeans and T-shirts. Black T-shirts, which came in two flavours – either Band or Comedy. If I had feminine things, they were purple (a colour I hated only slightly less than pink. It was pink-ish. Pink lite. Pink without admitting it. Boys didn’t have Purple things).
I was comfortable. But restricted. I couldn’t ‘wear what I liked’. Because increasingly, the things I liked only came in Pink.
Pink was not just a colour. It’s seemed like a state of mind. It was paper-thin blouses, low cut, V-necked tops. It was the impracticality of ‘feminine’.
It’s the stuff I wear now.
Now I’m not very much older, but I came to a realisation not long ago about Pink. About why it’s OK.
I was shopping online for a running top – something cheap, light, for easy runs. I saw someone selling a perfectly good Nike Run top on eBay – unworn, my size, ideal. But Pink.
I started to scroll past and stopped. Why was I avoiding Pink? It’s a good top – not my favourite (I will always be an all-in-black runner, a running Ninja) but it’s a good top. I have a pink shirt, I have pink nail polishes, I’m a grown up. I’m well aware that wearing a dress doesn’t make me a Traitor to The Cause. I can wear a skirt and blouse today, jeans and a nerdy T-Shirt tomorrow, and not one single person will care. No one is going to shout at me int the street, I won’t get arrested for indecency. I can wear what I like. I am very, very lucky.
I bought the top.
The difference isn’t that I suddenly like Pink any more or less than I did. The difference is that I don’t care what ‘image’ my clothing portrays. I don’t care if people see me running in pastel pink and think ‘Feminine’. I am as feminine as I want to be today. I can go for a run in pink, with my nails done and my hair long and look ‘Like A Girl’ if I want, and it doesn’t for a minute negate the fact that this Girl runs 20 miles. I can run all in black, with mud up my shins and my hair tucked back in a buff. This Girl can wear pink, yellow, black, or whatever she damn well pleases.
We don’t need feminism, if we’re lucky. But it’s something we do for the people who do need feminism. Who can’t wear what they like, or say what they like. Who can’t read or learn what they like. We need feminism for everyone – men and women, so we can stop having this stupid fight, so we can just get on with bigger and better fights, as allies. We need feminism. And some days, it’s something we need inside our own heads.
Some days, I run in pink.