mindblowingly stupid

I love Alternet. I rely on it as my primary information/opinion source and even though their recent redesign made absolutely no sense to me, they are still my homepage (I can’t say “it” about Alternet – it’s a friendly, lively group of people in my mind) – though others in my household have decamped to HuffPo.

But my god, sometimes they fuck up on such a colossal scale that I just stare at the screen in amazement. “Is Wearing Makeup A Feminist Act?” by Kate Ward, “a recent graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University” (my mom went to Medill, so no doubt it’s a great school, but, ugh – the youth of today!) was so shockingly stupid that I feel the immediate need to point it out to everyone.

“Forget thinking beauty products are one more form of patriarchy. Your next trip to Sephora might as well be a bra-burning.”

No matter that all feminists worth their stripes know that the bra-burning thing was a myth, and no matter that that second sentence doesn’t actually, grammatically, make much sense, but since when did feminism become about endless consumerism of potentially toxic, probably tested on animals, and certainly useless pots of time-wasting goop?

Is it embarrassingly old school to believe that women’s faces without toxic chemicals and colors, waxes and dyes, are beautiful? And why didn’t they put “beauty products” in quotes, to point out the oxymoronic stupidity of such a phrase?

The article is all about how we should love wearing makeup because 1) it’s been done for a long time* 2) men used to do it too, 3) sisters be makin’ money off it, 4) it’s a way for women to assert their independence (I will spare you the bizarre logic that led to that conclusion). As usual, the best line comes at the end:

“So why not celebrate these innate refined tastes of ours by opening our cosmetic bags and embracing our inner make-up artist?”

WOW. Good old essentialism. Since women are naturally dainty, let’s be sure we all play the part!

(Parenthetically, I think I am going to privately start calling my period “opening my cosmetic bag.”)

I’m not saying that women who wear makeup are tools of the patriarchy.

I can see how it might be fun to mess around with it once in a while (like Halloween). But, though it sounds painfully uncool, I must make the point that in a patriarchal society all kinds of useless customs must be upheld in order to divert women’s attention from the real work of bringing about radical feminist revolution/revolution grrl style now, and makeup is the leader of the pack.

Makeup, shaving my legs, walking in high heels – I refuse to do these things not because I don’t like to look my best (I do), but because they demand time I refuse to give. I will spend time arranging my hair and picking out my outfit because I, like most others, choose to control and cultivate the image I present to the outside world, but my beauty standards just don’t include face paint and torture devices. Everyone must decide this line for themselves – for some women it’s shaving their heads, for some it’s makeup and high heels. I don’t blame women for their choices (though I do occasionally judge them). I just hope we’re all making these choices consciously.

This article does less than nothing to contribute to the discussion.

*Fun fact! “Women’s leadership in makeup dates back…further than the word “feminism” itself.”

You mean there were women being leaders before Christine de Pizan (obligatory Women’s Studies major showoff reference) coined the term feminism in the 1400s? Who knew? I thought that women being real people began the day bras were first burned! My mind was just blown, Ms. Recent Graduate.

4 Responses to “mindblowingly stupid”

  1. dori

    what is this, Feminism a la 1998? or Feminism a la Womens’ Studies 101? what a pile of cliches…

    frankly, i’m getting a little tired of “feminism” stating i can’t put pots of goop on myself if i want to, because sometimes i do. granted, i can’t be within 20 feet of a sephora without gasping, but regardless, i do like my pots of goo here and there (tho to reclaim some hairy-legged cred, most of those pots of goo get made in someone’s house, and purchased off Etsy).

    watch yourself, sweetie, before you start JUDGING other women as you say you sometimes do, or you’re just fucking up your own feminist cause. don’t judge, don’t ever say “they” – because she is you, and we are WE, whether we have fun with lipstick and pots of goo, or don’t. LOVE.

  2. lagusta

    Heya Dori,

    No worries – happily, there is no need to be tired or to call my beliefs “feminist” in quotes, because I never said that women can’t do whatever they want to do. I absolutely promise I wasn’t judging you personally. Mostly because I’ve never met you.

    If you reread the post, you will notice that I made a special note to say things like “I’m not saying that women who wear makeup are tools of the patriarchy” and “my beauty standards just don’t include face paint and torture devices. Everyone must decide this line for themselves…” and “I don’t blame women for their choices…”

    I’m perfectly OK with judging other women, however – and men. I am constantly getting flak from otherwise smart lefties for being “judgmental” every time I say that I think something is fucked up, and I’ve come to believe that “now, now, don’t be judgmental” is code for “toe the liberal line – don’t disagree with anything any liberal might do” and I’m not down with that.

    Also: it’s impolite to lecture me on what “never” to say.

    Also: I’m not a sweetie.


  3. whatlight

    Thank you for your honest and rational post in response to an article fit for Cosmo. Sometimes I just think many of these philosophies of third wave feminists are in support of vanity and consumerism. No woman is to blame, but a materialistic, surface-oriented culture influences any movement, including feminism.


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