The question of whether or not a feminist can wear short skirts is, to me, a bit of a strange one. Raised by my feminist mother to be a staunch feminist, it had never occurred to me to fret over the length of my skirt until midway through my university career, when I met a woman who was vaguely mistrustful of my feminist position, because I occasionally wore “nail polish and makeup and short skirts”.
What does a feminist wear? What is the Feminist Uniform? As the stereotypes have it, a feminist is a humourless, unshaven, braless, hemp-shirt wearing vegetarian. So, what of Gloria Steinem, who at the height of the feminist movement was blonde, fashionable, and glamorous? What of the career women of the 80’s with their sharp suits and high heels? The activists of the 90’s? The gamer-girls of the noughties? Or…feminist housewives?
The notion that a feminist has to dress or act a certain way, and that a feminist can’t be sexy or sexual, is not a very feminist idea at all. Certainly, the point of feminism wasn’t that one type of woman or lifestyle was better than another, but that women should be valued and respected as equal partners in society, who may follow the path in life of their choosing, whether that path be a stay-at-home mom, an hedge fund manager, a wiccan or a dominatrix.
The short skirt issue is a symptom of the much nastier issues of body shame that western society still clings to, the same issues that lead to slut-shaming and victim-blaming rape culture.
If a young feminist wishes to enjoy her youth and her sexuality and the cool breeze on her legs, it is her right to wear shorts or a short skirt or a bikini without snide remarks or judgement. Just as a man may choose to wear (issues of fashion notwithstanding) a pair of tight bike shorts or go shirtless.