What Does a Feminist Look Like?

Last night I did feminist things.

I had the opportunity to see Gudrun Schyman, founder of a Sweden’s feminist party. It was an excellent event, out of the two hundred or so in the audience there were three men and two infants, women wore sensible uncombed hair, dark, baggy clothes and lace-up ankle boots with sensible winter treads.

Or is that how it seemed? Did we really look like a bra-burning mob about to raise clenched fists into the air and declare an end to patriarchy?

I suppose if one treks into the city centre to listen to a feminist party founder, whose main subject is feminism, at an event organised by a feminist group – then we can assume that she or he is a feminist – or is being paid to be there.

In that case feminists look a lot like ordinary people.

Looking back at our appearance, realistically, very few people in Finland wear bright colours in February. Finns, in general, dress casually, to the foreign eye, maybe too casually sometimes. Our boots were the boots that we wear for winter snow and ice and there were hints of lipstick, manicures and even bras. Many of us had made an effort about our appearance and some women could be described as trendy or hipster. If an uninformed stranger had walked into the auditorium, there would have been nothing about us (except perhaps the flags and banner) to tell her that this was a feminist meeting.

As much as I’d like it to be - feminism is not catching, indoctrination with feminist ideals does not lead to violence and some feminists do take baths and shave their underarm hair. So why then, when feminists are such seemingly ordinary people, are we still met with such disapproval and why must we repeatedly defend and justify what we are?

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