Feminist writer Kate Cohen argued in her Washington Post column yesterday that women who shave their legs or take their husbands’ last names are betraying their sex.
Addressing the claim that singer Jennifer Affleck, nee Lopez, taking her new husband Ben Affleck’s surname was a “feminist act,” Cohen retorted, “No, sorry. It’s the opposite.”
- “Every choice to conform to sexist social norms makes it harder for other women to choose otherwise,” she wrote. “Every woman who has plastic surgery or Botox or gets her hair dyed or, yes, changes her name makes it harder for other women not to.”
- Extending her argument to leg-shaving, she wrote, “The feminist knows that the reasons she wants to shave are deeply compromised — and that as long as men aren’t expected to do it, doing it for yourself is an illusion.”
- While Cohen said she understands Affleck’s decision — she “is navigating a powerfully sexist industry and culture” — she concluded, “Sometimes we can’t push back or don’t want to. Sometimes we make the sexist choice. But in that case, we still have one real option as feminists: Call it what it is.”
Cohen joins other radical feminists — like critics of Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett — in arguing that fighting the oppressive patriarchy does not mean letting women make choices for themselves.