As a young feminist who prefers Patriarchy-blaming to linear thought, I have found that one of the many ways in which my feminist journey has liberated me is that I can now leave the house without any make-up whatsoever. This may sound ridiculous, but trust me, it genuinely does feel liberating. My friend texts me, asks me if I want to go to the pub for Ladies’ Night, and I’m off within 30 seconds, I don’t even look in the mirror, doesn’t matter how haggardly and unpresentable I happen to be.
In fact, being haggard and unkempt is something I take pride in. Because I haven’t just spent 10 minutes doing, or redoing, my make-up, I don’t then go out thinking about what I look like and then continue to worry about what I look like while I’m at the pub, unable to really relax. I go out thinking “Yay, friend, ecstasy and lots of cut-price gin!” and I forget about what I look like, I don’t worry about my image, I just have a good time.
Now, I don’t mean to say that I read somewhere that feminists don’t wear make-up and decided that now I’m a feminist I have to follow the rules, no. Rather, feminism has given me confidence in myself as a person and as a womyn, mainly because it’s given me a ready-made personality so that I don’t have to spend any time developing a personality of my own. Feminism has given me confidence based on who I am, not what I look like, feminity based on me enjoying being a womyn, not on the length of my eyelashes or the shinyness of my lips. I like make-up, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fun to give yourself a different image each time you go out, I like playing dress up and showing my titties, what’s wrong with that? I just no longer view make-up and titty-showing as an essential part of my life, my identity or my value as a person. Just something I do when I want Mardi-Gras beads.
At its most basic form, wearing make-up is nothing less than collusion with the Patriarchy. Womyn who put on make-up are doing so because the Patriarchy has put an invisible bayonet to the back of their heads and forces them to layer it on. True, most womyn can’t even see these bayonets or feel their pointiness, but they’re there nonetheless. In our Patriarchal system of oppression we feminists think that it’s completely impossible for any womyn to make a choice freely and the only choice you can freely make is to slavishly and unquestioningly do everything that feminist ideology tells you to do.
Within this context, rejecting the repressive values of a primitive Patriarchy for the “you’re nothing without surgery and spike heels” dogma of western Patriarchy may seem liberating because wearing a coat of lipstick is exactly as oppressive and exacting as wearing a full-body burqa in the deserts of Baluchistan.
And this kind of change has been almost revolutionary for me, someone who used to prefer being late for lectures than leave the house without make-up. And I’m someone who used to slather it on with a trowel due to a serious acne problem that I had a few years back. Today, I can just pop out of the house whenever I want, it doesn’t matter what I look like. No one actually cares what I look like, no one really notices whether or not I’ve got make-up on, and no one treats me any differently because I don’t have make-up on. Men – shock horror – still find me attractive and I still delight in butch-slapping their oppressive faces whenever they look at me the wrong way with their raping eyes. (I especially love how they won’t hit me back, which really is sort of uncharacteristic of how oppressors ought to behave…)
Weirdly, it matters to me less whether men find me attractive or not. In fact, looking as unattractive as possible to those fuckin’ penile-dementia-having oppressors is the whole point of everything I do nowadays. For I struggle with male judgements and presumed ownership of my body at every turn: Whether it’s the Jesus Freaks reducing me to my endlessly-fertile womb or the pimps reducing me to my endlessly-lucrative cunt, Female Oppression is Patriarchy’s chief sustenance and its oxygen. Patriarchy to Womyn: “Suck My Dick! MUWAHAHAHA!!!!”
Because I haven’t made a conscious effort to try and make myself attractive, I haven’t started my day by reaffirming my status as eye candy. Most importantly, I no longer feel that sense of vulnerabilty that comes with being ‘unmasked’ in public; I just feel like me.
And I love it.
This rule-breaking bitch has evolved beyond all eye-liners and mascaras! Take THAT, you oppressors!