As the tale goes, the #FeministsAreUgly hashtag on Twitter was started by @cheuya and @LilyBolourian facetiously. Both are feminists and neither is ugly – not that it matters.

Discussions about feminism eventually get to the heterosexual, gender binary politics and stop there – because men feel a threat to their physical pleasure and reduce anything further women say to a lack of getting cock, or something along those lines. (Not ALL men, but enough excessively vocal ones to be maliciously hostile and harass any woman wanting to have a say. Sit down, guys.) This heterosexuality is linked to a standard of beauty that is woven into the patriarchy – but that doesn’t necessarily make it an enemy of feminism.

Women should do things for their own pleasure and comfort, including the option of dressing to please their own aesthetic tastes and perhaps sexual arousal from looking in the mirror. As an effect of patriarchy, heterosexual women have the advantage of being able to see sexual attractiveness in other women, and themselves, without their heterosexuality being questioned. Yes, that’s patriarchy, and it’s to the disadvantage of men. Join us, men who want to pose sexily in front of the mirror for their own entertainment and not be emasculated or have their sexual orientation put under scrutiny. We are fighting the same fight.

In fact, I can defend my use of makeup and fashion not only as for my own pleasure in defiance of serving the male gaze, but also as an egalitarian value I’ve held for my entire life. It’s documented back to the age of 14 when I was putting makeup (albeit goth) on male classmates on a band trip to Regina, Saskatchewan, and I had been advocating that for well over a year. I’ve always maintained that men could use their faces as canvasses and learn the art of tricking the eye. I will defend any man who does so as not sacrificing any of his self-determination nor any of his sexuality or attractiveness to women.

I’m not attractive to everybody and I’m unattractive in a general sense some of the time. I can make ugly faces as cited above, but I can quickly reassemble myself into a sociable expression. We’re all multifaceted characters. Many women picked up on the #FeministsAreUgly hashtag and confidently posted selfies of their appearance – images of themselves that they respect and believe are worthy of representing who they are. The myth that feminism aims to destroy the concept of beauty needs to be tackled before confident girls and women distance themselves from ideas that empower them to assert their agency. Hostility towards femme, traditionally beautiful appearances only further reduces identities to gendered characteristics, and that isn’t feminism. There’s beauty privilege, without question, that often parallels ableism or classism and racism as well (*cough* “exotic”), but that’s in the depths of this rabbit hole I’m only describing in vague words at this point.

Indeed it’s a very messy rabbit hole – but we should be comfortable decorating it as we please. For our comfort and enjoyment and to please ourselves.


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