A short ten minute drive from my home, I have the option of buying a cup of coffee from a bikini-clad barista. Situated across the street from a local high school and in the parking lot of a smog check station, is a place called ‘Sneak a Peek Café.” I had never noticed it before until one day last fall, while stopped at a light, I saw a red head in a leopard print bikini and high heels vacuuming out her car. “What the hell?” I thought to myself and then I saw the big trailer with the words “Sneak a Peek” written on it
After that I couldn’t help noticing the line of dudes waiting to sneak a peek.
To tell you the truth I am both fascinated and a little grossed out — grossed out by the guys ordering the coffee and the ones leering at the women from out of their car windows, and fascinated that there is always a long line. Also I have to wonder, isn’t it a health and safety issue to deal with hot liquids with such little clothes on?
So the question is, are these women bad feminist for wearing a bikini on the job?
Frankly, who am I to label anyone a good or bad feminist? Diablo Cody comes to mind. For those of you who don’t know, she is the terrific writer behind the film Juno and the TV show The United States of Tara. In my opinion Diablo is a feminist. Juno was a great example of a feminist character. She was strong and opinionated, and when it came down to it, able to make amazing choices. Diablo Cody works in a field dominated by men and she holds her own. Yet, Diablo Cody worked as a stripper for years and also at a sex shop. She writes about it in her memoir Candy Girl. Diablo claims to embrace her sexuality and doesn’t mind if others do the same. The question is — does that make her anti-feminism? I would say no and would argue that perhaps it makes her pro-woman.
When I hear people label others as ‘bad feminists,’ it makes me think of the annoying kids back in high school that always had to overachieve and make a huge spectacle of their accomplishments while belittling others at the same time. When someone calls another woman a bad feminist I almost always think they, in return, are bad feminists. But then again, does that make me a bad feminist? We could go ’round on this one for days, I think. The bottom line is that women should support each other. And granted, there are some occassions where poeple spout off about being a feminist to furthur a political agenda (Sarah Palin to name just one) when clearly they are not.
Perhaps then and only then can the term “bad feminist” be branded upon them. For the most part I feel strongly that the use of the term “bad feminist” should never be uttered. The bad feminist/good feminist debate makes me think of those mothers who attend playgroups with the purpose of measuring themselves up against other parents. It reminds me of the moms who breast feed their children for an extended period, cloth diaper them, only allow them to don organic fabrics and use wooden teething rings, and do baby sign language all in an effort to one up the other mom whose child is eating sugared Cheerios and drinking from a bottle. It’s just yuck. I agree that many choices are better than others but don’t wear your feminism as a badge to make others feel insecure or like less of a woman. That kind of judgment should be reserved for the small-minded.
Sure, a bikini barista is allowing men to ogle her, but who’s to say she isn’t a kick-ass feminist. On the side she may be working for a rape victims hotline, volunteering her time as a big sister, or spending time overseas helping flood victims in Pakistan — but because she wears a bikini to work she is in no way, no how, a feminist?
What I’m trying to say is that I wish people, women especially, would keep that in mind the next time they use the word whore, skank, or slut to describe another woman or the term bad feminist slips out of their mouths, because, in my opinion the truest way to be a bad feminist is by demanding other women live by a set in stone list of standards.