Is feminism Hillary, Olivia, Jamie, or the-Hasidic-woman-in-the-photo?

Let’s see.

In recent news, we have Hillary Clinton, a well-known feminist, appearing unadorned and bespectacled in a photo while abroad in Bangladesh.  In this interesting piece on the subject, Amy Odell says:

When asked by CNN about the makeup-less photo of her in Bangladesh
making the rounds this week, Hillary confirmed that her appearance is
“just not something I think is important anymore.” Fox News aside, the
world rejoiced over that sentiment. She “does not need to fret about
having the right sort of career-enhancing wardrobe, haircut or makeup,” wrote Robin Givhan for the Daily Beast.
“She could arrive for a diplomatic meeting wearing flip-flops and blue
jeans and no one would doubt her authority.” Styleite’s Jada Wong responded simply with, “Yeah, she rules.”

Personally, I (Ruchi here) think this is awesome.  A woman should absolutely be respected for her mind, values, and personal accomplishments.  Whether my political views are aligned with Hillary’s is highly irrelevant; my inner self salutes her inner self.  If this is feminism, man, I’m a feminist.

…In December of 2010, Hillary memorably tackled the media’s fixation on her clothing choices during a talk in Kyrgyzstan, when an interviewer asked about her favorite clothing designers. She replied, “Would you ever ask a man that question?”

Her comments on CNN yesterday are sure to inspire fans who wish they,
like her, didn’t feel pressured to look a certain way, as all women are.
This line in particular stood out: “I feel so relieved to be at the
stage I’m at in my life right now.”

[Note: if she actually showed up for a diplomatic meeting wearing flip-flops and blue jeans, hmmm, I’m not such a fan.  Part of the cool is that she could – but won’t.]

Next in line we have Olivia Palermo, a well-known “socialite.”  (My guard is up.)   It seems that:  

The socialite has become one of the most influential red-carpet
celebrities for style-conscious Orthodox women, who must follow three core rules of modesty in how they dress.

Well, now.  I consider myself a style-conscious Orthodox woman, and I’ve never heard of her.   But you can’t argue that sleeves on wedding gowns and longer skirt lengths have been made cooler by the likes of Kate Middleton.

Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is also praised for her ‘ladylike’
clothes, and Ms. Heyman added that celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, who
often wears layers of vintage, ‘covers up in [a way] that works for the

Are Olivia and Kate feminists, then, for wearing longer, classier clothing that don’t broadcast or objectify them?  For not buying into that whole industry?  What is their motivation for covering up and creating a new trend?

If feminism means that we cover more to be taken seriously more (both by men and women), man, I’m so in.

Thirdly, we arrive at Jamie Grumet, a 26-year-old model and blogger – I refuse to link anything here – who recently appeared on the highly controversial cover of Time magazine nursing her 3-year-old son.  In a tank top and skinny jeans, her pose and facial expression defy you to question her ways, with the accusatory headline “Are You Mom Enough?” splashed across the page.

I’ve seen Jamie hailed by feminist women, for standing up for her attachment ways.  I’ve seen her vilified by equally strong-minded women, for selling out, turning moms against each other in a man-run corporation, and branding herself by her body instead of her mind.

Is Jamie a feminist?  Was she used?  Taken advantage of?

If feminism here means the right to expose yourself publicly, I’m out.  Equal footing with men, remember?  

Finally, we have these two Hasidic women.  They don’t seem to care about modern fashion, nor do they seem impressed or even aware that their pictures are being taken.  Are they repressed?  Cool, like Hillary, and relieved, to not care?  Do they “rule” like she does?

Are they feminists, like Olivia and Kate, for dressing in a way that does not leave them objectified?

Do they have anything at all in common with Jamie, for standing out with their non-conformist ways and proudly bucking the trend?

If feminism here clashes with these women’s choice of dress and lifestyle, whoops, I’m out again.  But if it means that just as my pediatrician wears long side burns and a bow tie, and that’s just fine, well, these women are cool.   That’s a choice.  If it means they are immune to the dictates of a bunch of socialites, nay, don’t even know what they have said to build immunity to, I’m in!

Who, indeed, is a feminist?

Then there’s me.  I like to look cute.  Sometimes I feel proud of that  – I fancy that maybe I am an example that looking “good” and being Orthodox are not mutually exclusive.  Other times I feel like a mindless robot.  Who says purple is cute this year?  Why do I care?  Maybe the most liberated women are those that know that following trends is plain old stupid and are man enough (pardon the expression) to live that clarity.

On the third hand, it makes me feel good when I feel that I look good.  But who is dictating those feelings?  Any girl worth her style-salt knows that your “cute clothes” from five years no longer make you feel cute.

So who’s the feminist now?

Related posts:

Yoga, Feminism, Judaism: how do you make your decisions?
The Decision Every Woman Must Make
Mythbusters #2:  Orthodox Women are Second Class Citizens