I have a confession to make. Today I stopped at an auto shop to have them run a test on my engine (the check engine light was on). Instead of charging me $20 for this like they were supposed to, the guy there just said "don't worry about it." Was I outraged at this seemingly preferential treatment?
No! I was super excited about saving my $20!!
Does that make me a "bad" feminist? Or more importantly, does this type of reaction undermine the goals of the feminist movement?
Now before anyone rushes to conclusions, I did not bat a single eyelash for this outcome. Nor did I look particularly attractive as I rushed there stressed out from work. No sweet talking either... I just stood there looking grouchy. So perhaps this was an act of pity from the guy at the auto shop who saw I was stressed. Or maybe he saw that I was obviously a student and felt like helping me out. Who knows? But this whole thing got me thinking about the various reactions women have when they feel like they are being treated better just for being a woman.
Now having someone open a door for you might not be such a big deal, but what about getting free drinks? Many women would say no, but what about a police officer letting you off for a speeding ticket because you are a woman? How many women would say "That's sexist officer, please give me the ticket"?
Another related concept is beauty privilege (which also applies to men). This idea stemmed from the lists of male privilege and white privilege that have been widely discussed. Beauty privilege describes the advantages people who fit society's conventional beauty standards have over others. There are numerous articles and blog posts on the internet about this subject, but what do you think? I don't think that there is anything wrong with embracing your femininity, sexuality, using makeup, or (in the extreme) plastic surgery if that is what makes you happy*... and you are not using your advantage to hurt someone else.
[*as long as it's truly for you and not stemming from a desire to conform to the expectation of someone else (or society)]
This quote from the beauty privilege blog post sums up my feelings:
"Beauty privilege needs to be recognized in the same way as the other privileges are. We don't tell white people they are useless or hetero women that they can't be feminists. No, we just expect them to understand their privilege and use it for good and not for evil..."
Or, as my favorite cricket once said, "Let your conscience be your guide!"