5 Steps to a More Feminist Lifestyle…

… And You’re Probably Already Taking Them

Most of our readers have a clear feminist identity already—snaps to you and your participation in the movement! But not every feminist is born that way. It took me till my early thirties to understand my own brand of feminism and what it means to my every day life. Each woman’s journey to that understanding is different. And the path isn’t necessarily paved with protest marches, feminist theory books or daily blogging on the subject, as much as we love those.

The Sexy Feminist (that’s me and Jennifer Armstrong) is writing a book on new feminism (“The Feminist Bombshell” is slated for early 2012) to help demystify it for the modern woman. One of our goals is to show women how feminist they already are. Here are five life decisions with serious feminist implications you may not have considered, but may have already made:

Going Vegetarian: Altering your diet even a little bit—be it eschewing just red meat, buying only organic/cage-free poultry and dairy or going full vegan—is a major decision that affects more than your colon. It’s easy to toss off “for health reasons” as the answer to the prying questions about your brand of vegetarianism, but there’s a deeper answer—a recent study argues a strong feminist case that’s fascinating. Here are a few more:

  • You know cow farts are more than just stinky. In fact, the methane gas from cows is one of the primary sources of global warming and it’s our mass consumption of them that’s led to a bovine overpopulation and a depleting ozone layer.
  • You love chicken, but care where it comes from. Most chickens are farmed in some of the most inhumane conditions imaginable—starved of light and fresh air, forced to live in their own feces and contained in brutally tight quarters.
  • You buy organic as much as possible. This supports farms that care about the environment, your health and (more likely than mass chains) fair working conditions for its employees.
  • Reading up on the companies/farms you support can help guarantee a conscious decision with every bite.

Shopping Consciously: Where you buy your designer denim and underwear matters.

  • You’re either hooked on American Apparel T-shirts no matter what or you know why it’s a feminist decision not to shop there. Two words: sexual harassment. Okay, seven more: promoting over sexualized, virginal women as the ideal.
  • When you heard that H&M throws away its overstock rather than donating or recycling it, you got sorta grossed out and went to Forever 21 for your cheap trends instead.
  • You buy brands such as Joe’s Jeans and Stella McCartney because they’re made fabulously, but they’re also made with consciousness.
  • You know that buying vintage, used or upcycling your own clothes does more for the world than save you a few bucks—though that’s nice too.

Idolizing the Right Women: Feminist icons are made not born. Sure, you should love Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Jessica Valenti, but you can follow fierce feminists in the pages of US Weekly too.

  • Consider why you’re a Beyoncé devotee. Is it only the beats or her sheer determination to kill it in anything she tries?
  • Why are you Team Christina instead of Team Britney? Could it be because Christina is a working mother, philanthropist and outspoken sex-positive feminist (you can call it “girl power,” but it means the same thing). Personal note: Here’s hoping Britney has her own feminist awakening one of these days soon …
  • Is “30 Rock” your favorite TV show for Alec Baldwin (we wouldn’t blame you) or Tina Fey—no matter your answer, you’re rooting for one of the most feminist TV shows ever. Here are 10 more.
  • Do you watch ABC or CBS evening news because that’s just what channel you were last on or because Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer are doing the job previously exclusively held by men?

Consuming News from Trusted Sources: You Tweet, Facebook and text like the rest of us, but when it comes to finding out what’s going on in the world, you look to the (sadly, few) reputable, journalistic outlets for your information.

  • Fox News pisses you off; MSNBC kinda does too.
  • A black-and-white, physical newspaper comes to your home; you read it.
  • Gawker is merely voyeuristic entertainment, not information source.
  • You seek out blogs and voices that challenge the status quo (thanks for that!).

Using Birth Control: No matter your reasons or method, taking charge of your own reproductive system—and its health—is one of the rights feminism was founded upon.

  • You always carry condoms for those “oops, I forgot, babe” moments guys can sometimes have.
  • You see your gynecologist at least once a year, perform self breast exams and read up on the latest breakthroughs in women’s health.
  • You support sex education in schools.
  • You’re one of the 100 million women on the pill and you say a little prayer for it every day.
  • You’re a mom because you wanted to be one.

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Author: Heather Wood Rudulph

Heather Wood Rudúlph is the co-founder of SexyFeminist.com and recently FeministMommy.com. She's a seasoned editor and writer, most recently for The Huffington Post, AOL, DAYSPA magazine and Movies.com. She’s written and edited stories about entertainment, beauty, healthcare, fashion, travel, teens, spirituality, women's rights, civil rights and environmental practices. Her work has also appeared in Seventeen, Elle, Details.com and The Los Angeles Daily News. She teaches nonfiction writing for Gotham Writers Workshop and is co-author of the book, SEXY FEMINISM, to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March, 2013. She has a journalism degree with a sociology minor from Syracuse University and lives in California with her husband and son.
About Heather Wood Rudulph

Heather Wood Rudúlph is the co-founder of SexyFeminist.com and recently FeministMommy.com. She's a seasoned editor and writer, most recently for The Huffington Post, AOL, DAYSPA magazine and Movies.com. She’s written and edited stories about entertainment, beauty, healthcare, fashion, travel, teens, spirituality, women's rights, civil rights and environmental practices. Her work has also appeared in Seventeen, Elle, Details.com and The Los Angeles Daily News. She teaches nonfiction writing for Gotham Writers Workshop and is co-author of the book, SEXY FEMINISM, to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March, 2013. She has a journalism degree with a sociology minor from Syracuse University and lives in California with her husband and son.

Comments

  1. Great tips…especially the one about becoming vegetarian!

  2. Zyzz says:

    Great article but you come across as a little bitter. You can be a feminist without supporting birth control too!

    • Heather Wood Rudúlph says:

      That’s a tough one, Zyzz. I absolutely agree that feminism has room for women with varying perspectives–even those contrary to my own, perhaps especially so. However, a woman’s right to govern her own body is one of the most important feminist causes, period. I find it hard to separate the two.

      • Nathan says:

        I agree Heather. I don’t see how someone can call themselves a feminist, and not support the right of women to do their own family planning.

    • akwhitney says:

      How does she come across as bitter? And second, what do you mean, “without supporting birth control”? If you don’t wish take birth control yourself, that’s fine. But does this mean you don’t support others using it? Because women being denied the right to decide their reproductive destiny is profoundly unfeminist. If you are okay with women being denied birth control, you are no feminist!

  3. Roane says:

    So, I’m a feminist as long as I’m making my own choices?

    • Heather Wood Rudúlph says:

      It’s the first step, Roane. What those choices are and how they affect you/women in general matter too.

  4. ericascime says:

    Great blog! I love that someone is finally realizing that you can be a feminist and be sexy too!

  5. Nathan says:

    Hey Sexy Feminists,

    I’m glad that you found the information about methane on ACoolerClimate.com to be useful enough to link to in your content.

    FYI, I am the founder of ACoolerClimate.com, and I live in a feminist ecovillage:
    http://www.dancingrabbit.org

    I’ve got contacts at over 35 green blogs, so if you ever want any help getting the word out about what you are doing, just let me know. I’m happy to help out.

    Nathan

    P.S. Would your readers be interested in learning more about our visitor program at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage?
    http://www.dancingrabbit.org/join/visiting.php

    I’m sure I could get you a guest post about life in our feminist ecovillage, if that would be of interest to you.

  6. Lummy says:

    I would like to point out that Forever 21 has very questionable labor practices as well, which involves the exploitation of undocumented women workers. There is a documentary called ‘Made in L.A.” which addresses this in detail. Long story short, it most definitely does not belong in the category of ‘conscious shopping’.

  7. Paleolady says:

    I’m so tired of the belief that eating meat is somehow a masculine trait. Or that becoming vegetarian is truly environmentally-friendly. I would suggest, to get a more balanced and thoughtful stance on eating meat, animal rights, and its affect on health (especially women’s health) and the environment, read Full Moon Feast or The Vegetarian Myth (two books that I would say are written by very strong, feminist-minded women). Being vegetarian (and especially vegan) is one of the most misguided attempts one could make to save the environment and improve your health. I understand why people choose vegetarianism as an option to factory-farmed meat, eggs and dairy (which I completely agree – are deplorable, disgusting and completely unnatural conditions), but there are other choices, such as buying meat from local farms that raise grass-fed and pastured animals. Face it, eating local meat from grass-fed/pastured animals is way more natural than the over-processed soy-burger you pick up out of the freezer section, that was probably either sprayed with pesticides, genetically-modified, or raised as a mono-crop and then shipped thousands of miles to your local grocery. Women need meat for optimal health, and if you’re still not convinced: it is not possible to get vitamin B-12 without consuming animals products– so just say NO to Veganism.

    Other than that, I agree with your post and strongly support conscious consumption, choosing strong women as your idols, being informed and aware of what’s happening in the world, and freedom of reproductive rights. I just think it’s time that women reclaim the right to eat meat as well.

    http://www.westonaprice.org/health-issues/the-ethics-of-eating-meat-a-radical-view

  8. Sick of "Sexy." says:

    I would like to be NON-sexy, thank you.

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