Burned and blackened

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I don’t burn bras in raging bonfires that choke the sky and all misogynists; I don’t fuel that fire with the bones of unwary men—and I don’t feel feminism deserves the shudder it often receives.

It boggles me that it’s still radical to many.  I confess with chagrin that my mother and I still watch American Idol. It is not quality television, but it’s appropriate for small ears, so we have watched it since I was little. In recent years, a few drag queens have appeared on the show–to the horror of my stepdad. He said it “hurt him” to see a man like that, and I burned.

I may not root for the drag queens on Idol due to their flair for dramatics, but I see no offense in their choices. If women can sport pageboy haircuts and plaid shirts without a second glance, a man in high heels doesn’t deserve scorn.

Women are not second-class: it is not a sin for a man to desire to be like one. And yet I fear women are creating a glass ceiling in their heads in addition to the one in the workforce. Too many of us are not on our own side–a side that, contrary to popular belief, hopes to elevate women’s status to be equal to men’s, not drag men on to pyres.

Male feminists do exist as the HeForShe campaign, in its aim to unite men and women in support for gender equality, can attest. But starting in high school, media blackens all genders’ perception of women and feminism. In these years of infamous, angst-filled identity crises, high-schoolers are showered with black-and-white photographs of half-naked, underweight but surgically enhanced women. These models join hands with pop icons who don less and less with each album they release, inspiring girls to adopt nonexistent shorts and boys to view girls as material.

We begin to believe women are porcelain–fit only to hold then toss on a display shelf–and too often it is these views we carry into adulthood. We ignore the Speech and Debate prowess of the girl with the black-and-white filter on her Instagram pic, instead choosing to follow the ineptly named “Meninist” Twitter account that mocks well-meaning women.

We continue to chuckle at the #LikeAGirl Always commercial for its advertising of feminine products rather than applaud its feminist stance. Because it dismisses the burned and blackened reputation of women: it reminds us that all women, high-schoolers included, were once little girls who knew #LikeAGirl means a little more flair, a little more determination, not a little less strength. Hold on to that girl.

She believes in women–and she will not be hushed.

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