Trying Not To Offend Men When Talking About Femme
Just a little disclaimer: not trying to call anyone out here! Just sick of being asked the same accusational question by men, and so wanted to write down my feelings in case it gets brought up again.
We've been quite lucky so far when it comes to how well Femme has been received. We've received so much support and kindness, and for those who haven't supported our movement or understood it completely, they have always been open to have conversations with us about our differences and views.
Every so often though, someone will come out of the wood works and say something completely out of context and really fucking annoying (lol). I wrote a post on Instagram the other night about how as people we need to prioritise ourselves and not get lost in the needs and expectations of others. However, the picture I posted along side it was a cartoon of a black girl saying "there's not a man alive that can tell me what to do" and I posted it because I felt like her! There isn't a man alive that can tell me what to do. There are women alive who can tell me what to do (my mum) so obviously I was just sharing my truth in a light hearted way. And also it was just a picture I had on my phone that I had - I didn't think too deeply into it.
Anyway, a man left a comment on the picture asking why it's just about women and not men and women and that he thought femme fatale was about embracing equality. I don't even have the energy to type up this post if I'm honest because by now I've heard this absolutely meaningless argument about 1000 times. It's just a way for insecure men to try and call out women who're more powerful than them.
I've said it before but I'll say it again so that hopefully I can stop repeating myself. As a 20 year old young woman, I created this platform as a means to express MYSELF. A woman. Someone that identifies as a woman. I cannot relate to the experiences of a man. I've never been one, I don't know what it's like to be one, and so I will never speak on behalf of a man. Women throughout time have been suppressed and abused, cat called, received lower pay, have had to fight for their positions in society, have had to fight to be seen as more than sex objects, have had to fight to reclaim their sexuality, have had a hard time in life for just BEING women. And I'm all down for everyone having an opinion but these things are just facts, and if you try to say that men have had it harder than women I'd have to strongly disagree with you there. I'm not saying that men have it easy at all - no HUMAN has it easy living on this planet. Life is fucking tough, but like with race, certain people's experiences will and have always been worse based on their sexuality, the colour of their skin, whether or not they identify with the body they were born with, etc. These things are facts!
My empowerment this year - me becoming self confident and growing and living a better life has majorly had to do with owning my inner feminine power. Understanding myself and my place in life as a woman. And so my blog is called Femme Fatale, because I liked the idea behind being a "fatal" woman. I liked having conversations with my female friends about our experiences as women and seeing how similar they were. I liked learning about how a lot of the bad things we'd experiences as a collective have come from men trying to dictate our lives from the beginning of time. But am I a man hater? No! I have so much love and respect for all people. I've made a conscious effort if anything, to make sure that Femme isn't a movement that calls out men. But sometimes it's impossible not to. I'm lucky to have the most amazing group of guy friends who have supported me in this from the very beginning. Who have come to the launch party and come to support at the zine festival and have offered their help in creating and taking pictures and designing the logo and making business cards for us and offering up their spaces so that we can have our events. We are not anti men just because we talk about women bettering themselves.
We want men to better themselves too! But if I came here and started a male empowerment platform and started talking about periods and hormones and birth control, guys would be like wtf is this? So honest to god let me live. If you're going to try to call someone out for something, at least let it be constructive. Don't just comment pointless shit on people's sincere posts about being vulnerable for the sake of being controversial. If you're a guy and the word feminist or girl power or anything like that makes you uncomfortable, you probably need to have a word with your ego. I have beautiful relationships with the men in my life and they know that in me trying to navigate my life as a woman, I'm not trying to call them out or tear them down. They aren't threatened or worried at all. Not all feminists are men hating warriors. If you really want to talk to me about equality, then let a 20 year old black girl run her little unproblematic empowerment platform, wear pink berets and talk about mental health in peace without being triggered by a CARTOON PICTURE that says a man can't tell me what to do. Honestly! Pick your battles people.
Femme Fatale Gals is not a self righteous platform. I am 20 years old and very uneducated about so many things but I'm OPEN and willing to learn! I have so much to learn about life and people and myself, and as I learn things I share them with others and that's all this is. We're starting conversations here. We are trying to live fulfilled, compassionate lives! Feminism is different for everybody. Being a woman is different for everybody. Not every woman has a vagina or wears pink or is a girly girl. Not every feminist identifies as female, not every feminist is a lesbian. Not every feminist is straight, not every feminist is body confident. Some feminists are promiscuous. There is no right or wrong way to be a feminist, or to be a woman. But for me personally, my feminism and life philosophy is all about being inclusive to everyone. I don't expect everyone to relate to Femme Fatale; there will be and have been people (specifically women) who've said it isn't real feminism because our logo is of boobs and that isn't empowering. Or people who've said our zine isn't feminist because our front cover has a woman in her underwear.
Just because something isn't empowering to you, doesn't mean it isn't empowering for others. Taking back ownership of our bodies is something we're extremely passionate about here. Not sexualising body parts we've been born to feed our children with is something we're passionate about. Having a black girl on our front cover who loves her body is something that we're passionate about. If you're a cis white male or a middle class older privileged woman, of course you won't relate to our movement. That's okay! But don't try to shut down others for expressing their truth just because it isn't yours.
I rambled here but I'm just trying to say that Femme Fatale is never going to be perfect because we are authentic in our learning. Things I say now might make me cringe in 5 years time and that's fine. It's real. But Femme will never be racist, sexist or discriminating in any way. There are so many bigger issues in the world - I know this is a time in society when everybody likes to be offended by everything but please ask yourself if it's worth it before you start getting offended. Does it affect you in any way? Is it problematic? Is it going to ruin someones day? Think about it before you get carried away with being a keyboard warrior.
In some lighter news, on Thursday we will be visiting Nottinghamshire Women's Aid to give them our very first donation. Since starting Femme in March, Alice and I have juggled University and our jobs whilst putting all of our money into creating these zines. It's been an incredible journey - we weren't sure if we'd be able to pull any of this off but we have! We made our Instagram, our website, our YouTube and our Facebook, we gained a following, we made a zine, we've done two zine festivals and had a launch party and now we're giving all of the money we've raised to a domestic violence charity we are now supporting, we're starting our first full size magazine and in January we'll be doing our first ever talk event! Just thought I'd leave that there for anyone whom is concerned that we aren't doing a good enough job. Thanks! Have a lovely, fun and compassionate end of year and focus on the good that YOU can do.