A Feminist’s Guide to Summer
Leeds has experienced a mass student exodus, we all survived moving weekend, exam results are in and the sun has actually come out long enough to make me purchase a pair of shorts: I can no longer deny that summer is officially here. But even though you’re still more likely to find me indoors stubbornly knitting a winter scarf than on the beach, I’ve decided to write this guide to summer, because I’m afraid I wont be taking a 3 month break from dismantling the patriarchy, and nor should you. So if you all follow this very simple advice we can bank on LUU being the feminist utopia I’ve always dreamed of by September.
Of course you should just wear whatever the heck you feel like and ignore all fashion advice that says otherwise, but why not use the summer to experiment with some classic feminist looks? Who cares if you’re playing up to the stereotype, they were popular for a reason! Dungarees are back in style apparently and they’re the perfect outfit for every feminist activity; protesting, DIY, going to the library, I could go on… If you want to really commit to channeling your inner riot grrrl then why not design your own t-shirt? Cats and angry slogans will go down well, accessorize with badges concisely expressing your nuanced political views.
Due to the 9 month long winter that we experienced in Leeds this year I’m pretty sure that, like me, the only bit of flesh many students exposed to the outside world were their hands and faces, therefore this current heat wave might bring with it a shocking revelation to some: women have body hair! I know that according to advertising it would seem that women love nothing more than turning themselves into shiny hairless Barbie goddesses, but, call me weird, I personally find the idea of burning hair off with chemicals or ripping it out with hot wax kind of gross. Plus, by July many of us are venturing to new depths of our overdrafts and body hair removal paraphernalia hardly comes cheap. Being grossed out by women’s body hair is no more logical than judging men for having eyebrows. So wax away if it’s truly what you fancy, but don’t be afraid to go continental this summer and rock out some underarm fuzz and a free-styling bikini line.
It just seems unfair that any bloke can whip his top off as soon as it gets above 15 degrees but when a woman does the same it’s worthy of outraged articles in the national press, but that’s what happens in a society where we hyper-sexualize women’s bodies and then shame them for it. Summer is never fun if you’re self-conscious about your body and I know that believing it doesn’t matter is far easier said than done but really, it doesn’t matter.
I’ll admit that ‘The Second Sex’ and Judith Butler are hardly ideal holiday reading, so what should rank at the top of your feminist summer reading list?
Jane Eyre – if you haven’t read it already then shame on you, she’s the ultimate literary hero(ine)!
The Color Purple – I know the beginning is rough but it’s not going to depress you, I promise.
The Handmaid’s Tale – The classic feminist dystopian novel.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – It’s about a rebellious Northern lesbian, what more do you want?
Hons and Rebels – The memoirs of Jessica, the communist Mitford sister, (she elopes, runs away to fight in the Spanish civil war, becomes a journalist, she’s great).