“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”
Rebecca West, 1913
Feminism has transformed and developed to many smaller groups. When I asked my friend if she’s a feminist, her direct answer would be: “what do you mean by a feminist?”. It is a proof that nowadays being a feminist means tens of ideas and ideologies.
Feminists that I decided to dedicate my zine are called “girly feminists”. They don’t owe their name to being “girly”, but mostly to supporting and empowering other girls. I would dare to say that they are the freshest and youngest generation of feminists. Most of them are in their twenties or are teenagers, which is beautiful, as more and more young girls of today understand the importance of their life approach, especially when it comes to sexuality, body image and women’s relations. Their main mottos are “babes power”, “girl power”, “pussy power”, “local girl gang” (basically everything what connects women and strength).
“Babes” (that is the term I’m going to use when describing “girly feminists”, inspired by “babes power” phenomenon) feel really inspired by the 90s (so their feminism-oriented inspiration is definitely the third wave of feminism), both when it comes to philosophy and style. Even though many of babes don’t like to be called a “feminist”, only because of its radical meaning (grandmothers: first and second waves of feminism), they truly believe that empowering other women is the only way to achieve original feminists’ goals. Veronica Sawyer’s teenage power in “Heathers” (1989) is a definitive precursor of the 1990s popular feminist groundswell known as “GIRL POWER” – it is structured on a belief that a group of girls who are friends can make great shifts in their universe. Few years later, one of Spice Girls states her mission: “We’re fretting up feminism for the 90s…. Feminism has become a dirty word. Girl power is just a 90s way of saying it” (Douglas 21)
Main media that they use to express their feelings are online. Social media are definitely their source of inspiration but also a place to show their interest in sex-equality issues, or support they have for each other.
Very important ingredients of babes’ culture are self-respect and a fight against stereotypes. Their tactics is easy: highlighting them.
One of the biggest problems of a modern young girl is slut-shaming. It is based on erroneous belief (mostly of men) that if a girl has sex or wears a skirt that’s “too short”, she is “easy” and “loose”. Words defining her are very offensive and prejudicial: “a slut”, “a whore”. In other words, it is an exact opposite of a man’s picture. Words for a guy having sex with many girls are: “a player”, “a fuckboy”. Men are not judged, their sex conquests are even appreciated and praised by other men, while women are mostly hurt and offended. Adwoa Aboah, a model and activist, created amazing short documents on young feminists, who believe that being sexy doesn’t make them “sluts”. Also, naked body is not a sexual, but natural image. Brave and strong girls fight with this stereotype mostly by highlighting the fake picture of a “slut”. They dress vulgarly, claiming that their aim is not asking for being treated as a “sex object”, but as women mature enough to make their own choices. A woman can do it all – wear a mini skirt and command a six-digit salary. They defend sexual victims of rapes and violence, shouting to a violator that women never “ask for it” (this is a popular term justifying violence by showing women as provocateurs).
On Saturday October 3rd, 2015 Amber Rose held her widely anticipated Slut Walk in Los Angeles. A Slut Walk is a peaceful protest march that seeks to put an end to sexual harassment–or slut shaming–based on the appearance of a woman’s dress. The general purpose of a Slut Walk is to draw attention to the fact that shaming or judging women based on the amount of clothing they are wearing is a harmful tactic used to demean and control women and justify sexual violence against women who are “asking to get raped” by dressing in a certain way.
However, walk was widely criticised, both by men and women. Amber Rose and her feminism was called “trashy” and “embarrassing”. Amber shared her story, she talked about her being a stripper, being slut-shamed in age of 14, seeing Kanye West (his interview when he claimed that he had to take 30 showers after dating such a dirty woman as Amber), loving and having a beautiful son with Wiz Khalifa (his song with lyrics: “I fell in love with a stripper and fell out of love quicker.”) and how she managed to forgive them.
Another focus point of babes’ is body image. The whole concept of a free woman seems to be utopian, only because of the mainstream picture of a “perfect girl”. My younger sister, whenever she sees a beautiful girl, she calls her “perfect”. I believe she is an innocent victim of today’s medias and capitalism. Selling products that will make you look perfect. Selling 0-size fashion to make you want to be perfect. Showing photoshopped pictures in advertising just to make you want to look the same way. Girly feminists battle this unhealthy and downgrading marketing tactics by sharing body-acceptance and body-love campaigns and making them viral. Showing that all women are in this together helps in changing the perception of outside beauty.
“What we stand for
We believe size, age or color doesn’t limit us as models or as women. We believe all body shapes, ages and ethnicities deserve to be represented in fashion and in the media, helping girls worldwide feel positive and confident about themselves, regardless of what they look like or whatever “flaw” they might think they have. We love an un-retouched beautiful woman!”
All Woman Project
Glossier’s “Body Hero” campaign
It seems like ‘girl power’ and girly feminism have absorbed everything from girls’ friendships to their fashion style and sense.
On one of our Fashion Media lectures, we were given a task to develop our concept and chosen subculture. Below my development’s results.
Proposed subject of the zine?
Local Girl Gangs, sexism in everyday life, body positivity, women empowerment.
Which subculture are you connecting to and why is this interesting?
I decided to focus on girly feminists, young girls, inspired by the 90s, who believe feminism is supporting and empowering each other. I called them BABES. Meeting up in local girl gangs, believing in inner girl power, exploring their own ways of life, independent and self-loving. Accepting their bodies, as they are their best friends. Creating themselves. Real queens fix each other’s crown. I have a personal link with this subculture, as I consider myself to belong to it. Few years ago, I took part in a beauty pageant. I didn’t win, but when I was standing on the stage, I realised that each of us could win, as every girl is beautiful. Every girl on the stage, but also on the audience. When I left the stage, my grandad told me a sentence that will stay with me forever: “You will always be a Miss World”. That was very empowering moment of my life, and it helped me in discovering my inner feminist. I am also inspired by 90s, when it comes to fashion and youth lifestyle (good vibes, fun with friends, girl power).
Types of objects, ephemera, locations, or people you will capture in your images?
Natural girls of different beauty and body types, skin and hair colours. Girls will be wearing clothes inspired by 90s, with 90s’ hair styles and accessories. I would like to capture girls in their natural places of meetings. Especially, a house – a very important place for girly feminists. They are inspired by movies, with girls sleepovers and getting ready together. I want to create a cosy place, to make girls feel comfortable and build the atmosphere.
Describe the style of imagery?
Mainly photos. I want to use only pictures taken by me. Photos edited to seem like taken by polaroid camera. Also, I want to collaborate with other creatives and create illustration for my zine (modern, “raw” and creative).
Who are your visual influences?
Mostly photography, but also illustration and zines as a whole.
Who will you interview?
Everyday girls, who consider themselves as modern feminists (local girl gang – group talk), but also a girl who doesn’t like the word feminist and believes equality should be normal and have no other name. I also wanted a polish girl-DJ to answer few of my questions, but unfortunately, she didn’t find time to do so.
How are you going to contact them?
I am planning to have a face-to-face interview. Probably will contact them through social media (Facebook, Instagram). Also, with a DJ from Poland, I will try e-mail contact.
Tone of voice of the publication?
Funny, light, but at the same time thought-provoking. I want to fight with stereotypes highlighting them. (“If you tell me I’m being sexy to grab guys’ attention, watch me being sexy for myself”)
Any ideas on a name?
My ideas were:
- ‘everyBODY’ (when I wanted to focus on body image at first place),
- ‘the ONE’ (as every girl is the one and only),
- ‘Missworld’ (as I have a personal link with it and it’s highlighting the stereotype),
- ‘Pillowtalk’ (as babes’ subculture is built on night-time chats and phone calls),
- but at the end I decided to call it “BABES“, as it’s short but descriptive, strong but chill; and has good vibes.
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