I can definitely, in retrospect, relate fully to feeling (as a young girl) that traditionally ‘female’ interests, fashion, makeup, were things to be ashamed of. In fact, it was often actively re-enforced to me by others as something that was superficial, vapid and lesser in value.
And yet I remained puzzled by our double standard society that did not extend the same judgemental attitudes toward men, who similarly spent their money and energy invested in sports, cars and other ‘masculine’ things.
In similar vain, men’s appearance is not subject to the same scrutiny as women’s. Such dichotomy was stark for me growing up with a brother. Well dressed men are celebrated, their qualities amplified by their apparent stellar appearance. A man does not worry about that his intellect or abilities will be undermined purely due to his presentation.
A woman, on the other hand, is hyperaware about how her choice in makeup, her hair, or her dress choice might be misconstrued as being facetious. This starts when girls are young, donning a short skirt for the first time and made to feel ashamed for her body, her legs. ‘you look easy, you look cheap’ . This absurd lie that is perpetuated to young women, that how one dresses is directly relatable to one’s morality.
Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. A woman can be feminine and remain an intelligent, arse-kicking member of society. A woman is allowed to be both.
Gender roles are so deeply entrenched in our society, we are so blindly habituated to them that we will often follow them reflexively, even when they go against all logicality. They are incredibly difficult to unlearn, and so it is important to try and make sure that we teach our future children to reject them from the very start.
As Chimamanda says, ‘Because you’re a girl’, is never a reason for anything, ever.