While I am most definitely a feminist, I don’t often speak out about the issues. I usually leave it to others to point out inherently misogynistic behavior, while I just mumble “Yeah, girl power” into a corner. But this time I just can’t stay quiet. This is big.
Here’s what I have to talk about: sexist smells. Why is it that in books, women are always associated with a flowery or sweet scent? Here are three examples that come to mind:
In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry can’t quite place the flowery smell that is emanating from a nearby vat of love potion. Turns out, it’s because Ginny smells flowery. Do they have wizarding perfume or is this just her natural scent?
In Paper Towns by John Green, a boy chases an elusive girl pretty much across the country. He can tell where she’s been because of her smell of “lilacs and almonds.” Who smells like that when they’re hiding out in abandoned and dilapidated malls and barns?
In the lesser-known Named series by Marianne Curley (great premise, terrible writing), a villain is unmasked because the good guys recognize her flowery scent. If you’re trying to stay undercover, shouldn’t you make an effort to not smell distinguishable?
Yeah, okay, maybe it’s not such a huge deal. After all, flowers do smell good. But in all seriousness, I think that while we’re trying to promote positive body image, we shouldn’t be telling girls that they always need to smell like roses. (Or telling guys they need to smell spicy or like leather or musky or whatever). Like, sometimes I smell like stale BO and cheese, and that’s okay. Or sometimes people don’t have a distinctive scent and that’s okay too.
Also I hate perfume, so I’d rather not live in a society where that is a requirement for being accepted as a female. So go out there and smell your worst! (But I still encourage hygiene). Happy Thursday!