I’ve said it before but I can’t say it enough: show me a feminist who is saying we can’t be feminine. Show me a feminist who is saying we can’t be feminine. Seriously, show me a feminist who is saying we can’t be feminine.
Bring me a feminist who is telling us we can’t be feminine, and I’ll probably show you that it’s really a) a regular old misogynist b) a regular old misogynist in second-wave clothing c) a person who doesn’t actually exist and was invented by patriarchy to discredit feminists by telling middle-class white women that lesbians are trying to steal their right to buy Steve Madden pumps d) a “masculine” woman that you think is trying to steal your right to buy Steve Madden pumps just because you’ve internalized a long history of Lavender Panic among liberal feminists and straight women and patriarchy, a discourse which compels straight women to believe that the mere existence of lesbians is a threat to their right to breed with their femmey Steve Madden vaginas or whatever.
I would also like to add (as a pretty femmey lady myself, which I feel I have to disclose in order to be taken seriously): as much as feminine is not antifeminst, antifeminine is neither antifeminist nor antiwoman. While it’s fucked up to try to force women to perform within any sort of narrow, proscriptive set of gendeed codes (including one which excludes the things marked as “feminine”), femininity =/= womanhood. Oppression of femininity is often a misogynistic act, but calling a woman’s rejection of femininity misogynistic is to claim that there is something essential about femininity. There isn’t.Asserting that there is something patriarchal about Sexy Heels And Mascara is not the same as hating women who wear Sexy Heels and Mascara, and arguing otherwise is to argue that there is something essential to womanhood about Sexy Heels and Mascara. And that’s what I fucking hate about internet femme discourse.
I don’t know anything about the sexuality or background of the posters above, so the following isn’t necessarily related to them. But I want to say this: there is nothing inherently radical about straight cis women claiming femme. As a cis woman who is in a relationship with a cis dude, I often write about ways to radicalize/problematize femme displays, but I am not going to say that my wearing lipstick is, by its own nature, “empowering” or radical. Straight, cis, white American women claiming femme culture as resistance can be a violent erasing act. It erases the history of femme as a queer resistance in ages where gender nonconformity was seen not only as deviant but in some ways subhuman, where lesbians were considered not to be women at all. It erases a history wherein women who performed masculinity were the victims of systemic violence, more so even than they face today. It erases a whole history of culture that was invented by marginalized groups as a resistance to oppression.
All performances of gender are valid and important and legitimate. But liberal choice feminism often teaches us that all options (especially consumptive options, and skirts are a consumptive option) within heteropatriarchal capitalism are equal, that your “choice” to wear heels carries the exact same meaning as a trans woman’s choice to wear heels, a gay man’s choice to wear heels, a butch lesbian’s choice to wear heels, or a black woman’s choice to wear heels. Those don’t mean the same thing. They are not moderated the same, they don’t face the same repercussions, they don’t evoke the same histories, they don’t cost the same.
And no one is trying to take away your motherfucking parasols.
as a small caveat, the suffragettes in the early 20th century would parody bourgeois femininity by dressing up in fancy parasols and dresses and hide rocks and hammers inside of them to smash windows and the like. They militarized femininity as an act of power and resistance. Femme performance is not an action of misogyny, the expectation and the consumption of femme’ness is. *performance studies nerd*
bolded the esp relevant parts
Warning: White, cisgender opinion to follow:
Honestly I keep reblogging this picture because I hear a lot of people (cismen) say shit like “You can’t be a stripper and be a feminist”. I can be whatever the fuck I want and doing a job that is particularly “feminine” does not exclude me from being a feminist. In fact, I feel more like I’m fucking the patriarchy by doing BOTH. I’m taking your money and using it, often times, in ways the patriarchy would not like. By supporting people and institutions it doesn’t agree with. Maybe I’m missing the point here, and maybe I’m pulling the old, tired trick of a white cis-gender feminist taking something personally when it has nothing to do with them. I do think the commentary does have a good point, I don’t want to erase it at ALL, because I think that there are so many layers to the subjects it approaches and it is totally true and valid. But I also feel how I feel about my femininity, my job as a sex worker and the fact that I’m a feminist.