“You Can’t Be A Feminist If…”


Hi guys!

Your friendly neighbourhood queer feminist here, ready to spill some tea on some common misconceptions about what being a feminist in 2016 actually means. Although there are many sub-sets of feminism, I’ll be discussing genuine advice I’ve been given with regards to my beliefs and my behaviour and boy is it something!


Please note that this piece is for entertainment purposes and so should be taken with a pinch of salt!


#1. “You can’t be a feminist if you wear make-up.”


So some people believe that makeup is a tool that amplifies ‘beauty ideals’ and that by wearing makeup, you are not only compliant with but promoting a patriarchal standard of beauty. I say that this is bullshit. Make-up is a way in which many people choose to express their creativity. The colours, shades, shapes and techniques can be considered an art form and many choose to study these and/or take makeup as a profession. Make-up (like many things) is not solely a ‘woman’s product’ – people of all genders can enjoy makeup and when this assumption is made, you are ignoring a rich, queer history of drag artists and gender-fluidity.

My makeup makes me feel confident and powerful, ready to take on the world. It is a choice I make for myself that emphasises what I consider to be my best assets and it allows me to be artistic in ways that I can’t normally. If you don’t wear makeup then that’s cool but don’t tell me that I shouldn’t wear mine!


#2. “You can’t be a feminist if you’re in a relationship with a cis man.”


This one is ridiculous. Not only does it further encourage the myth that feminism = misandry but it automatically assumes that you couldn’t love a man simply based on his gender. See something wrong there?

I’m a pansexual woman and it just so happens that the person I’ve chosen to be in a relationship with is a cisgender man. He is also a great LGBTQIAP+ ally who is interested in and educated about intersectional feminism and this is part of why we get on so well. On a personal level, he is respectful, kind and listens to my experiences so to tell me that I’m not feminist for being with him makes no sense.

Don’t tar every man with an ‘anti-equality’ brush, it’s hypocritical.


#3. “You can’t be a feminist if you shave/epilate your body hair.”


So the idea of being pro-bodily autonomy is that your body and what you choose do with it is your own. It means that you believe in bodily integrity – that people’s bodies should not be violated in any way by others because of said autonomy. I know that some feminists believe that removing body hair is another patriarchal beauty ideal and I’ve spoken to many who don’t epilate for that reason. I respect that choice completely and I believe that if you want to be fluffy, you should be proud of it!

I personally feel more comfortable with less body hair, especially as I occasionally suffer from hyperhydrosis. The more body hair I have, the more the sweat clings to my body and despite deodorant, it can be quite smelly. It’s easier to stay fresh the less hair I have and when anyone tells me otherwise, I remind them that its my damn body.


#4. “You can’t be a feminist if you care about men’s rights.”



Part of a comic by Rasenth on tumblr.


My definition of feminist is close to that used by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in We Should All Be Feminists:

feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

I however would change ‘the sexes’ to ‘genders’ as I don’t believe that all inequalities are from within in the gender binary. In fact, I don’t believe in the gender binary at all!

To acknowledge men’s rights in your feminism isn’t to deprioritise women’s rights, as long as you  give each their own context and don’t derail the conversation. There are plenty of men who suffer as a result of the kyriarchy, be it because of racism, transphobia, homophobia or poverty. The archaic gender roles that put pressure on men and boys to exert power, exploit those more vulnerable,to be big and to use force ….they’re damaging and dangerous instructions. It is important to speak about these issues if feminism is to achieve true equality but not necessarily to shove them into the same conversation as womens issues.


#5. “You can’t be a feminist if you support sex work.”


Image from qnotes.

This one tends to divide a lot of people so I’m just going to explain why I personally have sex-positive attitudes.

It is incredibly important to promote safe sexual practice. Not just in terms of sexual health but for personal wellbeing and education about consent. Not discussing these topics keeps them taboo and could make it harder for someone who has experienced sexual abuse or violence to speak out about their experiences.

While I do not support a huge portion of the sex industry that globally exploits and traffics women and abuses and violates performers, I am in support of sex workers and pornography and believe firmly in regulation and protection of the related professions. This goes back to the bodily integrity/ bodily autonomy thing because I think that  if someone has chosen sex work despite having alternatives and they are kept safe during their work then you don’t have the right to tell them that they shouldn’t be doing it.

In an interview in Elle magazine camgirl and filmmaker Ashley Vex spoke about making about safe, consensual porn with her studio Four Chambers go and check it out!


I appreciate comments, links and questions on this post but any hateful or discriminatory speech will not be approved.
Discussion and debate are welcomed provided it is structured, respectful and does not target individuals.


Have you ever been told “you’re not a feminist”?
What does your feminism look like?




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If you liked this post, you should check out:

queer bloggers network Jess, Zoe and I are starting a network for bloggers with LGBTQIAP+ identities!
empowerment playlistsMusic to make you feel like you can conquer anything…
my queerness erased
– A personal account of pansexual erasure.
why selfies are inherently feminist – I talk about Lindsay Bottos’ art project about self love and selfies.


16 thoughts on ““You Can’t Be A Feminist If…”

  1. I like the “you can’t be a feminist if you want to be a stay-at-home wife/mother” as if you’re not a real women in this day and age if you don’t want a career or be a boss or something, and put off motherhood until you’re 60. It amuses me as people seem to attach their own agenda to the word Feminism when really there’s only one definition of that particular term.

    Saoirse Sterling at XLeptodactylous


    • That irks me too Saoirse.
      My feminism is about people having the choice, which means the choice to be a wife/mother too! Fighting for equality means fighting for equal opportunities for all to choose what lifestyle they want… providing it doesn’t hurt anyone else of course!


  2. This is a fantastic post! 🙂

    I’ve read a lot online of people saying you can’t be a feminist if you are into BDSM. I can understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and that some people don’t understand why people are into dominance/submission, but I don’t agree with the statement that you cannot be a feminist if you like those things in the bedroom.



    • This is something I’ve felt like writing about before but I’m not sure if I’ve ever be brave enough. I can sum up my feelings and say that as long as the BDSM is between two consenting adults and both parties are honest and communicating, it can be incredibly feminist because its a woman embracing her sexual wants!

      See this article by Madison Young for someone else’s argument for it though!


  3. I love this. I’ve heard all of these arguments and then some as to why I could not identify as a feminist. My feminism is allowing women to have the choice to do any and everything you want, and I support everyone’s choices. People choose to ascribe their own meanings to a very basic and general term, and I love posts like this that educate others. Well done.



    • Thanks Tazhiana!
      I’m glad to hear people feel the same way I do. It should be about having the freedom to choose that noone can take away from you. Removing that choice for someone or judging them for it is just further injustice.


  4. The make-up one makes me laugh so much. Like, if the individual wants to wear it? Good on them. If not? Good on them too! I have respect for anyone who can do make-up half decently, because I wear none mainly due to the fact I’m both impatient and just can’t be bothered. But I don’t judge those who do wear it – it’s a way to express yourself isn’t it? 🙂

    I agree with this entire post so much. In my head, as long as what I am doing or what I think isn’t actually affecting someone else in a bad way, then they shouldn’t be whining or find my existence offensive in some way!


  5. I thought this was brilliant! I’m in agreement with everything you say (I just like smooth legs OKAY PEOPLE) and hate it whenever I see misandry because they have the complete wrong end of the stick. One thing that hasn’t occurred to me before was the part ‘assuming men that are virgins are sad’ – I had never thought of this but of course! Thanks for sharing a lovely thought piece! xxxxx

    Jesska – Opal Soul


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  7. I totally agree with you about sex workers. If the women are doing it through choice not necessity, I fully support them. (If it’s through necessity I still support them, but I also want to help them get out of it and into a job they want. Just like I would someone who worked at Tesco and hated it, tbh)


    • Exactly! If you exclude sex work from your feminism then its not fighting for equal rights for ALL. As I mentioned, there are some women who chose and are very empowered by sex work, and they are fully protected from any abuse or exploitation. This is what I want the sex industry to be like so that people can safely choose it as a career should they want to.


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