Don’t judge a Feminist by her/his cover…

February 25, 2006 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“i’m no heroine
i still answer to the other half of the race
i don’t fool myself
like i fool you
i don’t have the power
we just don’t run this place”

– Ani Difranco, I’m No Heroine

Yesterday a woman I volunteer with came to me to ask for advice.

She told me she has an eating disorder.

She was petrified. So scared. I had noticed earlier that evening how small she appeared and wondered to myself if she’d lost weight. Here, among all our feminist sisters, in many amazing feminist circles where I have so often gained strength, this woman sought me out. She shook as she told me, as she confessed how scared she was for herself, that she didn’t have the strength to stop. That she wanted help.

I am so scared for her.

And then she told me not to tell any of the other girls.


This is only one of too many occasions now during the past few years when a sister has come to me and told me of something she needs help with. Violence, sexual harassment by an instructor, eating disorders. And it has always been followed up with “don’t tell any of the other women”.

Why is it, that in our circle of feminist friends, amongst women who might best understand the social pressures we face, the traumas we experience, that these are often the women we most want to hide it from?

I’ve written before that I feel most judged by other women.

And yes, that’s even by my feminist sisters at times.

When I was first coming into my feminisms, really being able to express myself publicly and to stand up for myself, I was terrified.

Terrified that I would not be able to live up the feminist expectations of my feminist friends.

Could I admit that I like to put on lipstick and wear skirts and get prettied up? Was it okay to admit that I desperately want children and to be a mother someday? Is it okay to admit that yes, I sometimes like to feel dominated?

Would they judge me? Would they cast me from their feminist circle? Was I really a feminist?


Feminism is what it means to each individual person (yes, person – not woman). Each individual must find their own way of expressing their feminist beliefs, to negotiate their social roles with their beliefs and to negotiate the social stereotype of feminism with what they themselves believe.

Feminism is a belief in social, economic, and political equality of all sexes. How one chooses to express this and define this is up to each individual.

I can be whatever kind of feminist I want to be. My friend can be whoever she chooses to be. No one has a right to make her feel guilty for how she chooses to express her feminist, or make her believe that she is lesser if she expresses her feminism differently than others.

Her fight against her eating disorder is something to be supported. She is to be nurtured, to be cared for, and supported in whatever she chooses to do and however she handles herself. She should not have to worry about what her feminist friends will think of her if she reveals she has an eating disorder.

Feminists aren’t perfect creatures. I make mistakes. I like to look pretty and get dressed up. I’m not a stereotype. I am implicated in patriarchy, as are all my feminist friends. I am part of this social world and so take part in patriarchy. I submit to it. I also work hard to fight it in my own ways and no one can judge me for that.


I am so scared for my friend. I am so glad she felt comfortable enough to share with me her fear. I hope that she does the same with others so that we can support and help her.

– Artemis


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