About cultural appropriation and intersectional feminism

Hi all. Today’s post is a little bit more serious, but I really wanted to speak up about this subject and be transparent with everyone, especially as I move forward as a pinup and fashion blogger.

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Picture credit: @marsupialpudding on Instagram.

You may remember seeing me talk about Pinup Girl Clothing a few times, most recently in last week’s post. It’s a brand that I was wholeheartedly supportive of for a while, but a lot of things started building up more and more, and recently, it came to a boiling point.

I don’t want to go into too much detail of what happened, but I’ll try my best to summarize it. A few weeks ago, PUG released a collection that was culturally appropriative and just plain wrong on a lot of levels. A few people tried speaking up, and were quickly banned from the Facebook group run by PUG for its customers.

So those people started a petition (which you can see here) in order to get PUG to admit to its mistakes and try to rectify them. Long story short, this did not work, a lot of hurtful and offensive things were said, and there has been no resolution to date.

Another source for more information can be found here.

I think there are a few things that need to be said about this whole fiasco.

  1. If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism. What does this mean? It means supporting all women, regardless of what oppression they might face. Intersectionality is about the different types of oppression — gender, orientation, race, religion, disability, etc. — and what it means is simply that oppression affects us all in different ways, but the different types of oppression we all face intersect. For example: Alejandra is a woman of color, so she experiences racism. Olivia is bisexual, so she experiences homophobia. Marie is transgender, so she experiences transphobia. These are all forms of oppression, but the difference is how it affects each one of them. Alejandra may be a woman of color, but she’s straight. Olivia may be bisexual, but she’s cisgender. Marie may be transgender, but she’s white. These factors all play into how society views us and what our life experience will be, and as feminists, we must support each other and stand together in solidarity.
  2. That leads me to my second point, which is that certain privileged groups need to learn when to sit down and let the marginalized groups speak. If we’re talking about misogyny and you’re a man, don’t speak over the women. If we’re talking about LGBT+ rights and you’re straight, don’t speak over the queer person. If we’re talking about race and you’re white, don’t speak over the POC. If we’re talking about disabilities and you’re able-bodied and able-minded, don’t speak over the person with a disability. Asking questions is okay, discussion is okay, but the second you start to speak OVER the marginalized groups, you’re no longer an ally. Accept that being called out on your privilege is uncomfortable, and take that discomfort to learn how to be supportive of your fellow women.
  3. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” is a quote by Desmond Tutu that perfectly exemplifies the point I’m trying to make. If you see injustice, speak up. If you see racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc., SPEAK. UP. Nothing will ever change if we don’t do anything to change it, and we can’t be allies to our sisters if we don’t try to help in any way we can. Feminism isn’t passive — feminism is active, because it’s a type of feminism. Feminism doesn’t mean liking Lena Dunham and singing songs about girl power, it means standing with your sisters when they need your support, it means speaking up and calling people out on their oppressive actions, and it means actively working to dismantle the patriarchy.

Ladies, we have been brought up in a society that teaches us to internalize our misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc. We learn behaviors that are taught throughout society and we may realize they’re wrong but we don’t always realize we’re doing it. It takes a lot of work and a lot of thinking to unpack these internalized behaviors, but we absolutely must address them in order to move forward.

We’ve taken so many steps forward — let’s not move back. Let’s not forget how much work there is still yet to be done. Let’s keep working together in solidarity, to keep feminism alive and strong and to prove that women are strong as hell.

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