I am a Heel Wearer and my Footwear is Feminist !!

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh
2013, Lebanon

One of the questions many women ask me when they look at me or when they read ‘Red Lips High Heels’ is: how can you say you are feminist when you wear red lipstick and high heels? Strange how I have to defend my feminism within a movement fighting for women’s rights. True we do not look alike and we do not use the same tools and approaches, but it’s outrageous to find sometimes voices within a movement that can be the movement’s worst enemy…

I am a feminist, and I am feminine. Defining both my feminism and femininity is a continuous process. Red Lips and High Heels are symbols of both feminism and femininity. I cannot understand feminists who make nasty comments about expressions of femininity, even if femininity for me is through and beyond expressions. According to these feminists, being a “good feminist” or “a true feminist” involves telling women to act “less feminine”, or… one is labeled “choice feminist” !!

Attacking women on the grounds of behaving or dressing in a certain way is a really big problem. Feminism is first about equal rights for women, about a society where women have the same chances and opportunities as others. It should not be about suppressing femininity like it is something dirty and wrong, nor other approaches of feminism.

There are plenty of women who are not feminine, or who do not express it. And I am glad that one of the things feminism has done for them is creating a space where they do not experience pressure to behave in a particular way. Some women are not interested in performing femininity and they are free to do it without being under attack.

Patriarchy in the Middle East is certainly about suppressing diversity of views and practices, especially women’s. Feminism, as I see it and live it, is a shift of conceptual approach and application: embracing diversity, finding common grounds, recognizing and managing differences. Therefore, feminism as a movement should become a safe space where girls and women liking pink are not punished for it, as well as those who don’t like it; where women’s autonomy, free will and expression aren’t denied. Let’s stop blaming and shaming each other: slutshaming, victim blaming, feminine women, etc.

One of my goals with the ‘Red Lips High Heels’ movement isn’t to tell women what to wear and how to express themselves, but to open their minds and hearts to the diversity of ideas and practices, religious and secular, leftists, rightists, all Feminist waves, Eastern and Western, etc. I wear red lipstick and high heels, and this is one of my many ways of expressing my feminism in a sexist environment where red lips and high heels = prostitution or ‘dumb blond’. I wear red lipstick and high heels and teach Theology and Sciences of Religions at one of the most prestigious faculties of Theology in the Middle East, where secular women professors are a rare specie, and where women are supposed to be ‘neutral’ looking or ‘masculine’ !

Still, I don’t ask other women to do the same. My message to other women: be free ! Free to think, to analyze, to choose, to deconstruct, to build, to practice, to talk, to give your opinion, to fight, or not…

I am a heel wearer and my footwear is feminist !!

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Read the ‘About’ Section of this blog for my definitions of ‘Red Lips’ and ‘High Heels’

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  1. Good reading this morning Dr. Chrabieh and a fresh push of optimism! Feminism is indeed a space where diversity should be respected and embraced.

  2. I love this quote: “We are all born sexual creatures,thank God, but it’s a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift.”
    ― Marilyn Monroe

  3. and this one: “The hardest part has been learning how to take myself seriously when the entire world is constantly telling me that femininity is always inferior to masculinity”
    ― Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

  4. Bravo Pamela,
    So many are afraid of their sexuality. It is a strange reversal of things… who condemns high heels, red lipstick and so on? Religious fanatics… and some uncomfortable feminists… strange meeting ground – refusing the elements a woman has at her disposal to enhance whichever aspect she wishes too is refusing free expression pure and simple, and it’s tantamount to persecution and guilt-building. Wake up!
    Cheers
    Frank

  5. I am also for a dialogue between all sorts of feminisms in the Middle East. It’s time to unite our efforts. True that our first enemy is ourselves…

  6. Seems to me too that femininity and feminism aren’t incompatible. Thank you Dr. for this post. Keep up the good fight for women’s rights. As a man living in the Middle East, I also try to be as feminist as possible. At least i am with the principle of equality and its full application in all areas, even if it will take time and efforts and many sacrifices.

  7. Docteure Pamela Chrabieh je vous salue de Montréal et je vous transmets les salutations de bien de mes collègues. Nous admirons votre travail et nous vous souhaitons tout le courage et la patience possibles dans votre lutte incessante pour les droits des femmes… avec vos talons hauts et votre rouge à lèvres !!

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