I read this blog post, and was disappointed (but not surprised) that someone would be excluded from social groups engaged in challenging sexism… because she liked red lipstick and heels.
This makes no sense to me. I can understand analyzing and critiquing cultural practices from the historical lense of patriarchy, sexism and mysogyny, but I can’t understand attacking / excluding someone from the struggle because of an analysis about something so superficial! Shouldn’t we be discussing poverty, reproductive rights, education, rape culture, domestic violence and equality in the workplace?
The blog post reminded me of the first time I played mas at Caribana (dressed up in a costume to dance down Lakeshore to soca music with my friends). I had heard a lot of critique from people saying it was about looking “sexy” (presumably, for men), or it was “performing” (presumably, for white people). It wasn’t any of those things, and I loved it so much I’ve done it every year since. I love the music, I love the camraderie, I love the sunshine, and the freedom. The road is filled 80% with women of all colors, shapes and sizes who look gorgeous and think you look gorgeous, and you can jump up with strangers and run around with your flag and it’s okay, and it’s fun.
All this to say… I think people judge other people and their intentions and preferences based on their own experiences. If they don’t see a purpose behind red lipstick or heels other than attracting / appeasing men, then they don’t see how you possibly can. If they see a Caribana costume and don’t care to see the spirit, love and community on the road, then they’re not going to get that it’s more than meets the eye.
And really, it’s their loss. We’re more than our bodies and how we present them. We’re people, we’re complex and multifaceted. But if we don’t ask questions, listen or try to understand, we’ll miss out on not only wonderful people, but on the kinds of perspectives and narratives that can make us fuller, better people with open minds.