Getting naked in the name of feminism may sound like a drunken party move, but it’s a very real part of our culture. From the many, many tape-covered boobs present at Amber Rose’s “Slutwalks,” to the vagina artwork that flooded January’s Women’s Marches, to the #FreeTheNipple social media and fashion campaign that turned the “indecency” of toplessness into a rally for equal rights, the female body has become a canvas for protest. For a lot of feminists, it’s a tactic that has been easily accepted. For others, this encouragement of sex and nudity has left them wondering if there’s room in the feminist movement for the woman who isn’t in a rush to shed clothes, cringes at the word “pussy,” or doesn’t do casual sex. Here’s your answer: yes.
Like everything else in life, feminism is easier said than done. It’s pretty easy to watch women get topless in the name of your rights and stand by them when someone calls them a slut, but it’s not nearly as easy to get topless yourself. Many people just don’t want to ― and that’s okay. Feminism isn’t measured by who shows the most skin, who’s the most willing to free herself by hooking up with a guy, or who could be as loud and as vulgar as possible. It can be expressed in different ways. To get past this divide between the “pussy power” feminists of the world and all of the other feminists, we need to understand that feminism can be expressed in multiple ways.
Feminism may appear to be summoning sexually active women who aren’t afraid to curse or shed some clothes, but it’s not exclusive. Feminism will only appear a certain way if we allow it to. If you feel like the narrative is swinging in one direction that doesn’t include you, throw in your two cents ― how do you express feminism? If the only articles you see are about how women discussing sex or getting naked promotes feminism but you can’t connect with those articles, find articles that are more in line with how you express it. There’s more news to be found than what you see on the front pages. This past week, women’s pages have been discussing Jenna Dewan-Tatum’s advice that sex isn’t just for your man’s pleasure, but yours too. However, they’ve also been discussing Angie Thomas, the author’s who’s work, The Hate U Give, is not only set to bring our beloved Amandla Stenberg back to the big screen, but has been acclaimed as an avid portrayal of twenty-first century racial conflict in a “postracial society.” Similarly, women’s pages have been discussing the fact that Girls, a show that is known for openly discussing women’s opinions on and encounters with sex, has come to an end. Still, they’ve also been discussing Maxine Waters, her encouragement for women to be political powerhouses, and her noteworthy demeanor when it comes to handling Donald Trump and his supporters. There are an array of articles that promote feminism by showing women making advancements in literature, politics, and education. Sex talk and nudity in the name of female empowerment are only half of the discussion. Women who feel that feminism excludes them for being more reserved shouldn’t just sit on its outskirts. We have the ability to control feminism and make it inclusive – by actively seeking and publicizing articles that promote feminism beyond sexual pride.
Talking more about sex with regard to feminism isn’t supposed to come from a place of virgin-shaming either. Increased conversation on casual sex and nudity may make it seem like to be a feminist you should be comfortable having sex and getting naked, but this isn’t the case. The fact that women are openly talking about sex is good for women, in that it’s helpful and informative, but it doesn’t mean that these women are somehow better feminists because they can cover this topic. Many women have become more open talking about sex as a way of empowering women in a society that has been keen on slut-shaming. Still, the will not to have sex is just as empowering as the will to have sex. People who aren’t having sex shouldn’t feel that they can’t contribute to the conversation. There are women and young girls looking for these stories too, in the same way that other women look for stories of how women handle their sex lives. Just because it doesn’t seem like stories of abstinence and virginity frequent women’s magazines, doesn’t mean they’re unimportant to the feminist conversation.
Feminism is a struggle against a lot of things ―- from the most minor things, like being called a whore online, to the largest forces, like the wage gap. However, we can’t discredit struggles that come from within. Movements are meant to be inclusive not just of different ethnicities but of different experiences too. It starts with being proud to share your own.