Feminism just got fashionable

By Jessica Keating

Women rejoice! Feminism, thought to be in the twilight of its years, is having a renaissance. This time it’s edgy, quirky and cool, with no need to burn those bras (well, it is a recession after all).

Real Women Don't Use Apostrophes
Photo used under Creative Commons by CarbonNYC

For years now, women have been embarrassed to call themselves feminists, with oft-repeated, defensive remarks like, “Yeah I believe in women’s rights … I’m not a feminist though!” Dread the thought that anyone (namely, any man) would discover those feminist tendencies lurking inside. But relax, change is afoot and being led by a charge of intelligent, modern, beautiful and distinctive women.

Grace Dent for one, treats us all to her hilariously witty column in style bible Marie Claire, proving that even fashion (notorious for being directed by men) is waking up to this new battle cry. Dent is a journalist who writes for The Guardian, Marie Claire and G2; an author of, wait for it, eleven novels; and also manages to fit in broadcasting work. She’s phenomenally successful in her field and yet manages to remain completely removed from those smug ‘have-it-all’ women.

Dent is also close friends with Caitlin Moran who perhaps best encapsulates this new breed of feminists. “I come from pop culture, and I wanted it to be like rock’n’roll. I wanted someone to shout, ‘I’m a feminist! It’s really fun! Let’s all go and be feminists in the pub!’” Hell, I can live with that. As well as writing popular books such as How To Be A Woman, she has also managed to shock the indomitable Germaine Greer with her openess; another sign that feminism is evolving from a movement dominated by intellectuals, to one encapsulating the everyday woman.

Even youngsters are getting in on the act. The Twilight films have made a huge star out of Kristen Stewart but she refuses to bow to Hollywood standards of glamour and can more often be seen in her Converse than Louboutins. And the first role she takes after the Twilight saga? A sword-
carrying, bare-back horse riding, armour-wearing Snow White – thus turning the entire damsel-in-distress tale on its head. What attracted her to the role was that, “This girl has the amazing ability to channel fear, things that people are typically afraid to do, into this really focused, really charged, driving energy.” Even better, there’s no soppy Prince, just a mighty fine Huntsman in the shape of Chris Hemsworth.

That’s the other thing to remember, ‘feminist’ does not equal man-hater. Too often that line has been blurred, leading to a whole heap of confusion amongst our menfolk (bless them): should they hold the door open or let it slam shut; carry our bags or let us struggle; put that bookshelf up, or let us figure out these damn Swedish instructions alone? Feminisn was never really about the men, they just got caught up in there somehow. It was meant to inspire women and give us the opportunities to make our own choices.

We’ve a long way to go; many of the post-feminist generation have been left feeling inadequate by the pressure we put on ourselves to have successful careers, families, relationships and to look like something from New York Fashion Week whilst doing so. Individually we’ll never escape this, but the battle cry has sounded and is bringing women together once again to march forward.


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