|Photo courtesy of Flickr user Joe Shlabotnik under Creative Commons 3.0|
Not that Seventeen Magazine is any sort of authority on feminism, but when they published the "What kind of feminist are you?" quiz, a few eyebrows instinctively raised. I mean, come on.
Never mind that Seventeen is guilty of mind-fucking millions of young women into thinking they're too fat, too short, too tall, their hair is too straight, or too curly, their skin is too dry, or too oily, and their boyfriends are probably cheating on them-- all for the sake of selling the clothes and cosmetics they advertise; not to mention more magazines that possess the secrets of self-improvement.
It's an endless, overly-critical, self-destructive cycle. But I digress.
As a feminist, I felt like I was walking into a trap. You have to be suspicious when you can find what kind of feminist you are and what celebrity perfume is best for you in the same place.
Having read the magazine (and many others like it) when I was seventeen-ish, I knew the basic set-up of the personality quiz. Answers marked A were usually extreme, B was somewhere in the middle, and C was always a conservative lost cause who was anything but daring, flirtatious or hot.
When applied to feminism, I could already foresee the outcome-- A's would be radical, B's would be liberal, and C's would be cultural feminism-- even though I really question Seventeen Magazine's understanding of essentialism.
Now I love to be right. I mean, I really really love to be right. In fact, my three favorite words are "you were right."
But this one stung a little. I mean, the divisions in feminism are puzzling, even amongst feminists. And it's a rather sensitive subject. Still, while the breakdown is disheartening, it serves a necessary purpose.
Back when I was taking "Intro to Women's Studies" I struggled with this reality. See, I thought I had everything all figured out. So rather than complete a matching section connecting the label to the ideology, I wrote an essay across my midterm explaining why we should all just get along.
Obviously, I hadn't "gotten it" yet.
And many beginners don't-- until that "eureka!" moment when they begin to understand that everyone's picture of equality doesn't quite look the same.
But the last thing feminism needs is for the delicate balance of differing viewpoints to be trivialized by a ridiculous quiz created by the pushers of the beauty-industrial-complex.
So the next time Seventeen Magazine wants to over-simplify something, I suggest they stick to face wash or the best style of jeans to flatter your figure. Because really, feminists don't divide into groups of those who let boys open doors for them and those who don't.