4 Things Feminists Can Still Do With Their Friends

There are a lot of effed up gender norms that shape women's friendships. But that doesn't mean you have to change your own relationships with your friends in order to be a good feminist. There are plenty of things feminists can still do with their friends without being bad feminists. In fact, what you do with your friends has no bearing on your feminism — unless your activity of choice is, say, trolling feminists online. But who does that anyway? (Oh yeah, trolls do that. But you wouldn't.)

When I say that gender norms shape our friendships, I say it not to shame anyone who subscribes to these norms but to point out how the pressure we feel to follow them can damage our relationships. Women are taught to compete with one another for men, to designate specific friends for specific roles in their lives based on their gender and sexual orientation, and to make assumptions about their friends based on gender. This can limit our options, which is just generally not good for feminism.

However, there's nothing wrong with having friendships that subscribe to convention if that's what makes you happiest and you're not enforcing it on anyone else. Here are some things you as a feminist shouldn't have to feel bad about doing with your friends.

1. Doing "Girly" Things

There's nothing wrong with you and your friends wanting to get manicures, give each other makeovers, or go shopping. This only becomes a problem when women feel like they have to participate — or when people of other genders feel like they can't.

2. Talking About Your Love Lives

Women in the media often don't have lives or interactions with one another that are unrelated to men, which is why there's actually a test (the "Bechdel Test") to demonstrate how feminist a movie is based on how many non-man-related interactions the female characters have. But that doesn't mean you and your friends have to be talking about your careers all the time. Talking about your love lives can be both useful and fun, regardless of your genders or the genders of the people you're dating.

3. Getting Dolled Up To Go Out

A woman can simultaneously believe in her right to go out looking however she damn well pleases and want to get dolled up before a night on the town. Some women find it a lot of fun to get dressed up and dolled up even if nobody's going to see them. And even if it is to attract a potential date or hookup, that's not anti-feminist either, as long as you're not telling anyone else what to do.

4. Consuming Problematic Media

You do not have to sacrifice your Bachelor viewing parties to be a feminist. Yes, that particular show and many others can encourage gender stereotypes, but if we never watched anything problematic, we wouldn't have much to watch at all. It's not our fault that there's so much misogyny on TV, in the movies, or on the radio. If nothing else, it gives us and our friends something entertaining to make fun of... and not-so-secretly enjoy.

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