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Mar 29 2010

I like pie

Feminists always have to go around explaining that they don’t hate men. The man-hater accusation is the standard response to anything a feminist might say.

Feminist: One in five women will be sexually assaulted on campus by the time she graduates.

Antifeminist: You’re just a man-hater!

Feminist: But I’m quoting a report from the Department of Ju –

Antifeminist: Man-hater! Man-hater!

Feminist: One in seven women will get breast cancer.

Antifeminist: Man-hater!

Feminist: Pornography oppresses women.

Antifeminist: Man-hater!

Feminist: I like pie.

Antifeminist: Man-hater!

Man-hating apparently, invalidates the entirety of feminism; women are, by universal agreement, expected to love their oppressors unconditionally. Hating women, however, is de rigueur for the modern gal on the go. I was listening to World Have Your Say on Radio Beeb a few weeks ago, when they were talking about women’s issues because it was International Women’s Day (you know International Women’s Day? It’s that sad, lonely day once a year when folks on the radio talk about women’s issues and the people telling them to shut the fuck up are given marginally less airtime than all the rest of the year). So anyway, on World Have Your Say a woman was telling the story of her Mexican grandmother who was able to “have it all” by running a successful company and raising about 37 kids. Well, one of the feminist panelists said, yeah, that’s right, successful women “don’t have to be men.” Women can be empowerfulized and still do things that are ‘natural’ for women to do.

“It’s okay to have a family” she insisted. “It’s okay to be pretty.”

No, it isn’t, my dear old feminist panelist. It isn’t okay to be pretty. Not if smashing patriarchy is on your to-do list. Pretty is merely a semantic variant of feminine, which is itself a code word meaning ‘subjugated, degraded, and controllable.’

Or beautiful, sexy, or fuckable — it’s all the same thing: a set of behaviors indicating that the woman in question is dominant-culture-compliant. The degree of compliance is judged according to standards based on a system of male appeasement (compliance should be full and discernible at a glance).

If a woman is unable or unwilling to capitulate to male desire by cute-ing herself up according to the standards of the day, and is resistant enough to broadcast this unwillingness by eschewing beauty, boy is she in for it. The Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women state that a woman will internalize the beauty mandate to the greatest possible extent, lest Dude Nation kick her non-compliant ass.

Fear of retribution (ridicule, ostracism, harassment, abuse in the workplace) — and by extension, guilt and the imperative of self-sacrifice — is why the overwhelming majority of Vagina-Americans own mirrors and buy carcinogenic products that supposedly make them “shiny,” “radiant,” “glowing,” “pouty,” “smoky,” or “baby-fresh.” Fear of retribution is why even those women who identify as feminists cling with Revlon-coated claws to the “right” that us man-hating feminazis would take away from them: the right to be pretty (or sexy or fuckable).

And no wonder the right-to-prettiness feminists despise us anti-femininity feminists; what we propose is that women’s liberation is impossible as long as women fail to recognize that the practice of beauty is an expression of internalized oppression. We’re just mean and hateful when we suggest that women, especially youngish ones with phenotypes that make them likely to score cash, good tables in restaurants, and public approval, might consider knocking it off already with the prettiness. Those perks are pretty good, but they sort of undermine the feminist revolt.

But when that feminist panelist on World Have Your Say tells the audience that it’s okay to be pretty, what she actually means is that it’s not antifeminist to engage in physically and emotionally demeaning practices in an effort to be sexually manipulative and to communicate one’s submission.

Holy shit! That chick is just wrong.

Internet feminists, by the way, who cast a jaundiced eye upon the cult of beauty are man-haters because we would deprive default humans of their right to pretty girls.

164 comments

4 pings

  1. humanbein

    I was doing some one-handed surfing on the internet when I saw your blog and accidentally misread it as “I Like Hair Pie”, and I must say, you nearly caused me to lose my erection with all this common sense feminism. And for that, I shall never forgive you.

    Sincerely,

    Dick Wiltingshit

  2. ashley

    Love it, humanbein.

    It’s not even relevant as an argument, the man hating-how are oppressed persons expected to feel? What is the nonsensical premium on emotions towards the oppressor? Red herring.

  3. Sarah

    I really want to defend “pretty” feminists by saying that many women who perform femininity have a desire to smash patriarchy that is damn strong, but it’s just their desire to remain employed and be-housed is stronger.

    But I can’t do it with any sincerity — it’s hypocrisy when the “pretty” feminists tell us to reject normative standards of beauty while actively performing it themselves — the articles about positive body image next to photos of rail-thin, photoshopped and airbrushed supermodels common in women’s and teen mags is an example of this forked-tongue message fed to us since childhood. One wonders if the pretty feminists are aware of their doublethink, and making concessions to the patriarchy in order for survival — and to get people to listen to them. One also wonders if this deal with the devil is really worth it: Sure, people listen to the pretty feminists, but nothing really changes.

  4. goblinbee

    Sarah: “…but it’s just their desire to remain employed and be-housed is stronger.”

    Lots of women have jobs and a roof over their head who do not pretty up.

  5. liberality

    This one is hard for me. I went through a phase where I didn’t shave or pluck or wear makeup or wear high heeled shoes. But the social disapproval was strong so now I shave, at least during the summer, and I do wear dresses too. I still won’t wear high heels or makeup, except for lip gloss that is. I totally agree that women should not HAVE to do these things to be acceptable. Being clean ought to be enough for any human being I think.

  6. jaded

    Pretty feminists are like President Barbie – the new “feminist” Barbie which no matter where she reaches, her waist does not grow beyond .5 inches. Her hair STILL looks like it would crack when hit with a hammer.

  7. Citizen Jane

    “Lots of women have jobs and a roof over their head who do not pretty up.”

    There is definitely a privilege issue here, especially when we bring class into it. Lots of women do not enjoy the privilege of choosing their own appearance while also maintaining a job and/or a roof over their own head.

    I actually kind of feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place here. I dream of a paradise in which my appearance has absolutely no inherent political statement in any direction and it matters shit-all if I’m red-lipped and be-heeled or hairy-legged with a monochromatic face.

  8. niki

    What if you shave your eyebrows off because otherwise they take over a good portion of your face (and the facial hair just seems to increase yearly) and you enjoy sometimes only drawing on one huge eyebrow, or drawing them in drag queen spikes, or drawing them in upside-down? I guess that wouldn’t make anyone want to ‘do’ me, so it doesn’t count as P2K, at least in the U.S.A.

  9. shopstewardess

    “Prettying up” has a pretty limited shelflife. There comes a point in the life of any female who lives long enough at which it is no longer possible to simulate being young and pretty. Any woman who hasn’t sorted out a more substantial basis for their life by the time that stage comes along is in for an unhappy time, whatever their economic status.

  10. Julie

    I will frame this post and hang it on my wall, next to my mirror. That way, if I ever – ever! – get the least bit of creeping guilt that I should ‘do something’ with my appearance before leaving the house – which can happen when those ingrained bits of advertiser copy cause synapse misfires in my brain – I will be reminded that I should do no such thing. Down with Patriarchy! And ‘up yours’ to the Beauty Industry!

  11. wendy house

    I never really got passed reading that only 1 in 5 women will be sexually abused on US campuses. My gut reaction was – wow that’s low….surely life in the US isn’t that good to girls?

    According to research by the UK National Students Union “Nearly one in four students has experienced unwanted sexual contact” (source:
    http://resource.nusonline.co.uk/media/resource/NUS_Hidden_Marks_web_1.pdf )

    I suspect even this is under-reporting.

  12. Laughingrat

    Thank you, Jill. Posts like this make me feel less alone as a feminist.

  13. Satchel

    I lost interest in “World Have Your Say” after their fawning coverage of both Roman Polanski and Tiger Woods during their respective recent news cycles.

  14. Jezebella

    Goblinbee, you are correct. But lots of women won’t get hired if they don’t toe the line when applying for anything from retail cashier to restaurant server to rather more professional gigs (attorney, curator, stockbroker). Not everybody has the skills for a job where the practice of femininity is completely irrelevant to whether one gets hired and retained, or not. Speaking of which, please tell me: what is this utopian workplace where women can earn enough money to live on without making one single concession to the practice of femininity? I’m curious.

  15. humanbein

    The violent, almost uncontrollable compulsion to look feminine, or to feel like you look terrible if you aren’t feminine, is never something to blame on yourself. Arguments about whether women really ought to not care about how they look, no matter what their circumstances, creep into blaming the victim territory really quickly, even among the best and brightest minds. Confessing that you still feel this pressure is good, as long as it doesn’t make you feel guilty, when you should be congratulating yourself on how far you’ve come.

    The pressure to conform is so strong. Can any woman proclaim she is entirely free of it? What posts like this do is help ease the pressure. I try not to point fingers at women who feel this compulsion, because doing so can create a new pressure opposite it, so that you are squeezed from both sides and more likely to feel anxiety than before. Plus, that’s normally the purview of the anti-feminist, who delight in characterizing feminists as those who wish to strip beauty from women, rather than those who see beauty under the layers of cultural bullshit.

    Blaming the patriarchy means never blaming yourself where a cultural norm is the actual culprit, doesn’t it?

  16. kristyn

    humanbein, that is most excellently stated.

    When one feels constant pressure to go in one direction — ie, the P direction — to the point of suffering personal and economic strife, even encountering physical violence, if she resists, then it often doesn’t matter how strongly she wishes to resist or how much she thinks it is wrong to submit.

    Recall that super-skeevy movie where old-fart Clark Gable wrestles a mustang to the ground using only a rope. Sometimes you can only fight so hard before you give up, either a little or a lot — even if you’re only fighting against some ugly old geezer with a rope.

    In other words, you wouldn’t blame the mustang for finally saying, ”If you’re not going to let go, then eff this shit, I’m tired.” Just as you shouldn’t blame a woman for saying, ”Well if you’re going to fire me/beat me/exile me, I might as well just put on lipstick/shave my legs/wear a skirt/starve myself.”

  17. girlfromthenorthlondoncountry

    Humanbein, you’re absolutely right – only the most blinkered of misogynists would blame women for shrugging their shoulders wearily, opting for one fewer struggle that day and putting on some bloody lipstick. But let’s not pretend that that’s because it’s ‘okay’ to be pretty. It’s because it’s compulsory. Equally, let’s not pretend that exhausted submission to social mores is, somehow, a defiantly feminist act.

  18. Laughingrat

    Kristyn, Goblinbee, I think the anger at other women around this issue arises not from contempt for their capitulation to Patriarchy–there is often no choice for women but capitulation–but from the gleefulness with which some of them embrace the lies Patriarchy tells them, with complete disregard for the fact that they’re hurting themselves and other women in the process.

    It’s not that none of us experience that pressure, or never give in, or never feel, sometimes, that lipstick makes us look nice and that looking nice is a good thing. It’s that many of us are fighting very hard to make this world a better place for people, and giving up a lot of perks in the process. It is frustrating to watch others undermine our work, making our lives and the lives of other women more difficult.

    While hurting other women, and vilifying other women, should never be the goal of feminism, there has got to be a safe space for us to voice anger about this problem. We need it for our own well being as much as anything else. We need to be able to own our anger, even when it’s about something so problematic as rifts within the movement itself. We need Valerie Solanas as much as we need Betty Friedan.

  19. Hedgepig

    It is completely understandable why women practice femininity. Relentless conditioning from birth tends to have its intended effect. What I can’t stand is this claim that doing femininity is feminist. Doing femininity is understandable and forgivable, but it ain’t feminist. Part of learning to live with cognitive dissonance is recognising the dissonance and forgiving yourself for it. The apologists for femininity are trying to tell us the dischords are actually really harmonious.

  20. Comrade PhysioProf

    What if you shave your eyebrows off because otherwise they take over a good portion of your face[?]

    Can you send the extra to me? With every passing year, my fucking eyebrow hairs get sparser but longer. If this keeps up, I’m gonna end up with only one stinking eyebrow hair down to my knees.

  21. queerfemme

    seriously? so because i’m cunted, like makeup, and sometimes i wear heels, i’m just kowtowing to a patriarchal ideal of what i’m supposed to look like? that’s fairly, no, actually that’s COMPLETELY laughable. not to mention insulting.
    who are you, who the hell is ANYONE, to tell anyone else what they’re supposed to look like? do you REALLY think that because i wear makeup i’m any less radical than someone who doesn’t? really? because i can pretty much guarantee that while you’re running around michfest, celebrating your weemoonhood, i’m fucking shit up a lot harder than you are.
    i’m so fucking tired of this ciscentric idea of what feminism is.
    i’ve got a cunt and i wear makeup. i also pack, bind, and can kick the ass of pretty much any fucking cisdudebro that fucks with me. i realize that to transphobic second wavers this means that i’m some sort of gender betraying tool of some ridiculous systemic oppression against “real wimmin” and i also realize that all of you will now call me a crazy tranny.
    the thing is, by refusing to do things that CAN ACTUALLY BE FUN IF YOU LET THEM (like wearing makeup, running around in a jersey dress when it’s 100 degrees out, or fucking someone with a flesh cock, regardless of their gender) you’re just letting the patriarchal ideals that you so deplore control you.

    ugh. fucking second wavers… betty friedan? geezus fuck. seriously? is that all you’ve got? betty fucking friedan? why not just cry about mary daly again? maybe you can braid each other’s hair and read the transsexual empire together, too.

    stupid fucking ciscentric weemmoon. there’s a reason you’re so scared of trannies. we fuck with your weird, NORMALIZED, idea of what life is. you can’t play either or with us, and that just makes your heads hurt. here, let me call you a fucking waambulance. but first, i need to fix my makeup.

  22. Rhoda

    I’ve come across several discussions on this topic recently.
    One thing I’ve noticed is the implicit assumption, even among feminists, that Not performing femininity must be a conscious act of feminist rebellion.
    Nobody seems to have realised it’s possible to have never worn make-up and still be female. Long before I was a feminist I would never have considered wearing make-up. I drifted from tomboyish child keen on animal rights to feminist student and reached the age of 24 without ever having worn make-up.

    Recently I was advised that I should wear make-up and high heels for a job interviews and that a job interview is not the place to fight the system. I couldn’t find the words to admit that I wouldn’t know how to put on make-up if I even wanted to.
    It saddens and confuses me to then find that even in feminist discussion the performance is the default and to be natural is strange.

  23. kristyn

    Laughingrat, yeah, what Hedgepig said.

    I didn’t mean my comment to be taken as, ”We should not examine these behaviors or call them out.” By all means, we should. And we should get to the root of the problem.

    It’s deplorable, yes, deplorable, the lengths which apologists and sex-pozzes will go to in the name of holding onto this false construct of ”femininity.” Their efforts make it much harder for those of us who resist, to resist.
    But I understand why they do it, and you know, sometimes I do it myself — just a little bit. Such as, sometimes I wear lipstick or put on a skirt myself. I’d rather shave my legs, a chore I despise, than get fucked with on the street when I wear shorts in the summer. And hate myself for every little capitulation.
    Again, it’s just choosing the least shitty shit sandwich. Either submit a little bit, or possibly get fucked with in heinous ways.

    None of us should have to endure this, should have had to endure this for the lengths we have already endured it. This needs to stop, but I don’t know how to make it stop without ending my own life.

  24. Kiuku

    I don’t usually shave my legs. Since I haven’t worn shorts, I haven’t shaved my legs in several months, perhaps a year. I love it, when I look down at my hairy legs, when I’m changing or whenever, and I don’t feel like a feminine robot, or like the subjugated images in the magazine, the chopped up body parts in the magazines, I don’t see anything through male lenses, I instead see a goddamn human being, and not one bit a woman. I suggest never shaving ones legs. It’s great. The sad part is I’m not willing to be the display of the only non-woman humanoid on the street.

  25. kristyn

    Kiuku, I love my hairy legs. I relish and delight in my hairy legs.

    However, my hairy legs once got me punched square in the face and wrung about by the hair on my head. I suppose merely being female, or appearing female, can get that done to me in and of itself, but I’m trying to minimize risks here.

    I’m really not ready to die yet, at least not at the hands of a stranger. Especially not at the hands of a man.

  26. Kiuku

    see I make 2/3rd the salary of a man, so I gotta make it even somehow. Therefore I must have some expendables. So the beauty shit has got to go. I won’t pay for cosmetics any longer, or atleast not at the rate society (men) would have me buy cosmetics. I cut my own hair. It’s true that women’s jobs are relegated to the beauty ghetto, a lot of women can’t make enough to live on her own, so for a lot of those jobs as well as needing marriage and a steady boyfriend (because let’s be real now men will have sex with anything..living or dead) a woman must look pretty, but I’ve found that women have not been hired or fired due to being pretty as much as they may be hired for it; looks are always a subject of discussion, whether she is prettified, too pretty, too haggard, not putting out, not flirting, smiling, not smiling, flirting etc. it is the dumbest “feminist” conversation to discuss that women can be pretty and feminist at the same time! Men obviously selected these women panelists because that’s what men think feminist issues are. The actual feminist discussion should be, women don’t have to be pretty, how beauty standards affect women, women don’t have to have babies, women shouldn’t have to have a man in her life, and women can do a job and run a business and have babies. Not all women want kids. Those that do, should be able to have a few. “having it all” is the dumbest saying too. it’s not “having it all” since men created this weird standard wherein you have to have a man to have a kid. It actually points to men subconsciously believing women have it all, and so they must forceably take some of it.

  27. Kiuku

    exactly Kristyn. Men get violent when you don’t conform. I wouldn’t show my hairy legs unless there was an army of hairy legged women with me.

  28. kt5000

    I just had a small epiphany.

    I stopped shaving in high school soon after I stopped swimming competitively. I may have shaved my legs for grins a couple times (literally, probably TWO) since then, and have experimented with maintaining armpit hair in various ways in the last few years. This means that I have been “discussing” my hirsute flesh for over 15 years.

    One of my stock lines has always been something along the lines of, “I’ve never felt like a social outcast because of it, have not had trouble making friends, getting dates, having long-term relationships, or getting jobs.” When speaking to those who are non-plussed by my choice, or who act as if they could *never* go without shaving – as if it literally frightens them, I have also gone so far as to say, “Plucking and shaving and waxing is all just false unnecessary crap that makes your life harder. you know what? shaving your legs doesn’t make you attractive; someone simply arbitrarily decided that it makes you a Girl. because men want to have sex with Girls, shaving equates attractive. if we all stopped shaving, men would still want to have sex with us. I promise.”

    That the first meme is factually accurate is evidence of widespread privilege I haven’t completely unpacked, obviously. Depending on the intent and circumstance, it could be a really clueless thing to say. While I recognize to a certain degree that I operate with these privileges, I rarely identify it in a repeated verbal vessel like this one. However, as I will explain further, the purpose of my words is usually to feel understood in some way by people who are rigidly invested in the extensive doctrine of lady-hair-maintenance without ruining the meal for everyone, if you will.

    Regarding my second stock line: I have always maintained that I don’t consciously eschew shaving to make a statement. I am lazy, and free from any serious consequence. I am so priveleged that I can speak the language of the pro-patriarchy folk without flinching. I have always implicitly understood that the explanations or perspective that I provide is not necessarily motivating my choice, but is instead a digestable idea, dressed up in language that makes it defensible or understandable to someone who might be baffled by hairy women.

    So I’m doing the same thing that the “it’s okay to be pretty” feminist is doing. I’m framing the discussion in patriarchy-compliant terms. To take it outside that framework would, I fear, make the discussion untenable. That’s kinda messed up.

    I can somehow forgive myself a little, given the circumstances in which my discussions take place, and the fact that I’m talking about a personal choice which in reality had nothing to do with advancing feminist beliefs (but which was likely an early indicator of my proclivity towards them). I have a hard time extending that forgiveness to a woman who publically represents feminism (or at least “International Women’s Day”) on a mass-media panel.

    Lots of food for thought here. Thank you for allowing me space to ponder this. It may be the first time I’ve done that on the interwebs.

  29. Lucy

    But I AM a man hater! I don’t want to look like a man! I put on make up and fix my hair so that I can look as different to them as possible. Shudder. Also, I wish men would pluck and groom some more. Hairy, smelly creatures.

    Book recommendation – the head of the ACLU, Nadine Straussen, wrote: “Feminism, Pornography, and the Fight for Women’s Rights”. Great book.

  30. Laughingrat

    Right on, Kristyn. Sorry if I misinterpreted your remarks. I agree with Hedgepig and others that institutionalized violence is what women get in return for not conforming to the femininity mandate. It is hard. And nobody can fight 24/7. Yes.

  31. Occasional lurker

    Back when I was a wee slip of a lass in the 1970s, I thought that attitudes like the ones you describe would be gone circa 2010. I find it particularly offensive, not to mention baffling, that whenever a woman displays normal human ambition people sigh about how sad it is that she has to “become a man” or “behave like a man” to get ahead.

    Working late = penis. Who knew?

  32. Sarah

    Arguments about whether women really ought to not care about how they look, no matter what their circumstances, creep into blaming the victim territory really quickly, even among the best and brightest minds.

    Thank you so much for this, humanbein. I was about to spiral off into the realm of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-dontism that usually leads me to kristyn’s conclusion of “I don’t know how to make it stop without ending my own life.” And kristyn, please don’t do that. When you feel this way, just think of the internet feminists!

    And to goblinbee, who says that “Lots of women have jobs and a roof over their head who do not pretty up.” Perhaps an anecdote from my life will help you to understand where I’m coming from:

    When I worked in food service, I was taunted to the point of tears for “being a hippie,” i.e., not shaving. At one point I was ordered, by my boss, to lift up my arms so that my armpits could be inspected for evidence of nonconformity. I was made fun of mercilessly as early as elementary school for the same crime.

    And at my significantly more white-collar current job, I’m often subject to male employees’ taunts that I look as if I get my clothes from Goodwill (I do, not that it matters), and the women’s not-so-subtle tips about properly properly using foundation. So when I shave my legs or put on lip gloss, it’s a deliberate act to protect myself. Maybe I won’t be fired if I forget to brush my hair one day, sure, but I probably wouldn’t have been hired if I had forgotten to brush my hair before the interview.

    Of course, I’m still damned if I do, damned if I don’t, but at least I’m no longer blaming myself. Now, I’m off to go congratulate same about how far I’ve come with a strawberry mojito or seven.

  33. agasaya

    Anything a woman does, by definition, ought to be considered ‘feminine’, regardless of norms set by males. It is whatever we happen to practice in terms of viewpoints, appearance, behavior and so forth.

    Attractiveness isn’t age determinant and varies throughout our lifetimes in terms of how it is expressed. Attraction isn’t a one-dimensional and uniform quality so self- acceptance is primary in dealing with this question. There is no more need to eschew a practice than to adopt it for the sake of how it is defined. I like getting rid of some hair for my own comfort – no one else sees it. How our own personal attractiveness is greeted by others is the part where we struggle with penalties paid for non-compliance with ‘ideals’. As the ideals literally cannot be both attained AND maintained, programming women for eventual failure is part of the system to keep us wound up in the attempt to make our every action center around males.

    Society gets off and makes a bunch of money by keeping everyone busy at the plan of attaining attractiveness. Success isn’t all that rewarding when you get down to it.

  34. Jill

    “do you REALLY think that because i wear makeup i’m any less radical than someone who doesn’t? really? because i can pretty much guarantee that while you’re running around michfest, celebrating your weemoonhood, i’m fucking shit up a lot harder than you are.”

    My dear old queerfemme, you appear to have omitted to read the FAQ. Kindly refer to the section wherein I specifically state that I do not speak for all the feminists, that I do not dictate global feminist policy, that I am neither capable of enforcing nor aspire to effect behavioral changes in any cult, subgroup, or community, and that I do not care about your personal situation or sex organs or about appeasing you. Also refer to the section wherein I specifically enjoin the commenter to employ the shift key according to generally accepted conventions, and to cut it the fuck out with that moron internet baby-talk crap. Thank you.

    But since you asked, it is my opinion that because you seem to believe that wearing makeup is in some way “radical,” and that “fucking shit up” and “kicking ass” is some sort of noble endeavor, you are actually a lot less enlightened than you imagine yourself to be. You sound, in fact, like a fucking mook.

  35. Someone

    This non-theist says PREACH ON sista!

    My first thought on reading this wonderful post was that I live inside of a marvelously rare, charmed lacuna wherein I can have fun playing with all the colored powders and brushes and such from the femininity store and still never be pretty! I am a lucky lass indeed.

    My second was to muse upon the realization that I have finally succeeded in securing a way to cash-slave which doesn’t depend one whit on being patriarchy- or pretty-compliant! You have reminded me that I need to appreciate this more.

    I am in a profession that normally does call for quite a bit of compliance, but I have found a niche in which my only requirements are set by deadlines and statistics. No people pleasing at ALL. Now, I am not sure if the men in my field have to put up with the same amount of arrogant entitlement I’ve experienced from certain (almost invariably male) clients, but I’m so done with that.

    Your blaming has been missed of late – please keep it aflow.

  36. ashley

    “go braid each other’s hair..”

    really? you sound like a dude.

  37. Samantha

    First, I would like to second what “Someone” said – I need more blaming in my life.

    Second, I work at home. When I talk to make-up-smudged, sensible-heels-wearing women about this, I’ve noticed that the first thing they say is something akin to, “Wow! You don’t even have to get dressed in the morning!”

    This reaction has always been perplexing to me. I get dressed in the morning the same damn way I always have. More specifically, I don’t make much of an effort at “pretty.” So, when “pretty” women say things like that to me, what they really mean is: “Wow! You don’t have to put on your patriarchy-acceptable costume to go to work!”

    This makes me terribly sad for them.

  38. OVERLADY

    There is no arena that demonstrates this Pervasive Awfulness of Teh Pretty more POINTEDLY that: the Waxing of the Female Genitalia. I am getting old: so I can tell you that this was NOT CONSIDERED NECESSARY OR EVEN DESIRABLE from the Year ONE until 1995. That would be something like a million years, right? For a MILLION YEARS no one even thought of applying HOT WAX to their genitalia, and pulling all the hair out.

    Now, because of the pervasiveness of Porn and the Perversions of mankind, its all of a sudden not only a BEAUTY requirement, but also, get this: a HYGIENE issue!!

    As in, you don’t have GOOD HYGIENE if you aren’t waxing all the hair off your cooter. What is wrong with you?

    This, THIS is what happens if we stop resisting for a SECOND! Whole new Requirements, to prove our compliance to the Pretty Ideal. Horrible, unnatural BULLSHIT!

  39. Someone Else

    Well I obviously must read the FAQ before making any comment of note, but I must say… I think I just found the Mother Ship. You can thank http://www.hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com — you’re in her blogroll and I found you by lucky chance.

    ***off to read posts and comments***

  40. FemmeForever

    Telling someone how they ought to look, I think is problematic no matter who’s doing the telling, men or feminists. Personally, I like beauty products. I buy a lot of them, and some clothes and some shoes. As a matter of fact I just spent several hundred dollars on sandals this weekend (seven pairs, some of which will be returned) because I need something comfortable and cute to wear in warm weather. I buy these products because I like color and style. Not because I want men to notice them. I’m a girlie girl and I like being so. Aside from the fact that it’s just who I am, it’s also a form of solidarity with other women for me, not a means of flirting or appeasing men (except for the obligatory compliance for job interviews).

    But what about this. While I really enjoy certain kinds of beauty products, I absolutely REFUSE to diet or feel guilty about not doing so. I am famous for this. I eat exactly what my taste buds require me to and I really, really, enjoy doing so. You couldn’t pay me to touch tofu and the like or have weight loss surgery or engage in any other form of food-is-bad-for-you or get-thin hysteria. If you think that isn’t hard core feminism, try gaining thirty pounds sometime and loving yourself (a lot) anyway. Take my word for it. People ARE NOT amused! Also, after a lifetime of doing so, suddenly last year I decided to stop wearing pantyhose and go bare-legged to church. But I never should have done that ’cause I need them for some outfits and it’s really hard to go back now. FOR SURE I am the only feminist I know. The women around me are so completely and utterly lost that I refer to them as back stroking in the colons of men. So to each her own, I say. If your thing is bare-faced, hairy, and happy. Go do it. If mine is defiantly well fed and happy. I’m gonna do that, too, without feeling one bit of pressure that I’m doing it wrong.

    PS. I’m schizophrenic on shaving. I do it periodically for legs only.

  41. FemmeForever

    Oops! I forgot to say welcome back, Jill. We really missed you.

  42. Saurs

    we fuck with your weird, NORMALIZED, idea of what life is.

    Well, Sinead O’Rebelllion. Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior.

    Yeah, you’re blowing our fucking minds. The veil has been lifted. An entire world-view irrevocably shattered. Because you, this highly original individual who apparently disbelieves in “systemic oppression” against women, like cosmetics.

  43. kate

    Now back to business. jezebella asks, “please tell me: what is this utopian workplace where women can earn enough money to live on without making one single concession to the practice of femininity? I’m curious.”

    The trades.

    I have never liked to play dress-up. As a child I was forced to wear dresses all through junior high. I know how to dress-up, I have dresses and whatever, but I CANNOT bring myself to wear pantyhose and the entire get-up everyday. I just honestly cannot. It never started as so much of a Great Stand against the Oppressor as just the fact that the anger would rise in me so much, I would feel like I was trapped in a box. I can’t do it.

    Also, I needed to support my kids well enough on my own and the only hope I saw for that was man-type work. The trades. I also am energetic and like to work with my hands. I don’t do well sitting in one spot for hours on end either.

    I have been in the carpentry trade for ten years now, self employed. Granted, I had to learn the trade, but I finessed that as well: I got friendly with a lonely man who knew the trade and was willing to teach me.

    That’s right, I used what I had to get what I needed. I feel no shame or guilt. He’s a great friend, a good business partner and a great teacher. I now am a skilled carpenter and can manage a crew and a business. Far more than I had ten or so years ago.

    The other thing is that you can’t wear jobs of make-up and look extra prissy on any trade type of jobs. Women who conform to the feminine stereotype are perceived as wanting to draw attention to their sexuality, are assumed to not want to work very hard, to get by on their looks and are often harassed endlessly by men who think that her make-up and teh ‘sexy’ are come-ons.

    Even when I meet with potential customers, I make sure I look professional and clean, maybe a little color to not have me looking like death warmed over, as I am whiter than white, but that’s it.

    People don’t expect to hire a super model, nor would they consider me an expert in my field if I looked like I never swung a hammer would I?

    So, yes, the trades will liberate you…somewhat. There is no utopia.

    Encourage your daughters to join the trades.

  44. yttik

    It really helps to get just a bit older. I recently took a 5 AM walk in an undesirable part of town, alone, without even bothering to remember a lifetime of helpful rape prevention tips. Not only did I manage to avoid any catcalls, a suspicious looking group of men actually crossed the street to avoid me. That’s what happens when you don’t even bother to comb your hair. Ahh, the freedom to simply walk the streets.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel good or look good or even to just fit in, but women should be careful because so much of that patriarchy compliant beauty is about disabling you mentally and physically and marking you as a target. Two inch heels make you unable to run, fake nails make it painful to fight back, being half starved robs you of energy, etc. Not much has changed since the days of corsets when women were so deprived of oxygen they were unable to exert themselves.

    Women from all walks of life are victimized, no matter how they look or what they wear and it’s never their fault. But would I have walked down that same street as a 20 yr old woman in red pumps and skirt? Oh hell no, and yet that is exactly what I used to be expected to do. And I complied, because the culture demands that women advertise their sexual availability, present themselves as vulnerable and submissive, and be prepared to entirely blame themselves should anything unpleasant occur.

  45. Jodie

    It is funny to me that the first charge leveled against feminists is “man-hatin’” and the second charge always seems to be “hairy-legged”.

    You’d think they’d get a new script. This one seems to be losing it’s sting.

  46. Jezebella

    I have to say, Samantha, that I don’t want your fucking pity. Take the smug “sad for you” face away from me. I suspect your acquaintances who also must work outside the home feel much the same way. Perhaps you don’t want to hear about how I pity people who spend all day at home, alone, working by themselves, and never get to leave the house and interact in person with live adults?? No? Then I’ll try to keep it to myself in future.

    Also, Saurs: HA! Don’t you love the fresh rebellion of youth, kids who think they invented sex, drugs, and smudged eyeliner? Who does she think she’s talking to here, anyway? The church ladies of Boise? Christ.

  47. kristyn

    Laughingrat, no problem, this is the internet.

    FemmeForever, other than the smattered and random ”beauty” routines I mentioned here, I am the opposite of you. Always without makeup, rarely shaved, dressed in dudely duds and sensible shoes …
    and anorexic.

    This is my greatest feminist shame. Even more so than putting on lipstick sometimes to go to a job, or whatnot. I view the occasional makeup as a costume, and hair grows back in a day or two. My own flesh, not so much.

    And it’s not as though I even LIKE men. I hate them, and I’m not ashamed to say I hate them.
    I don’t do this to please them. I do this to keep them from killing me. As a reflex action. To say, perhaps if I disappear, you will stop hurting me. If I make it obvious that I am trying to disappear, then maybe you will leave me alone.

    Putting on makeup and doing the whole routine must be something akin to this compulsion.
    For those who say they enjoy putting on makeup, primping, etc., I say — why, actually, I also enjoy starving myself. After one fails to eat for several days, one begins to hallucinate pretty things, and also feel as though one is invincible. It’s like taking a little bit of acid, except your body does it on its own.

    But to say that it is a radical, much less feminist act, is somewhat deluded. ”Radical” in the sense that it is incredibly outrageous and outside of the realm of typical behavior, yes, but not ”radical” in the sense that it defies a norm. If anything, it reinforces a norm, and that is something we must never lose sight of.

    Every time we do this, the bastards win just a little bit. We may still have to do this, or feel the need to do this, or convince ourselves we like to do this … but they still win every time we do it.

  48. magriff

    The less attention we pay to how women look, one way or another, the better, at least for a while. And that goes for everyone. Stop talking about it already, it’s the ultimate sore subject, and everyone knows sores don’t heal if you insist on picking and picking at them.

    On the other hand, all this talk about makeup gave us the most entertaining IBTP crazy in quite a while, so there is that!

  49. kate

    “As a matter of fact I just spent several hundred dollars on sandals this weekend (seven pairs, some of which will be returned) because I need something comfortable and cute to wear in warm weather.”

    I hope you’ll consider in the future, prior to another shopping trip for more than you need to live, how over consumption supports the oppression of the patriarchy, ruins our planet and generally wastes your time and resources.

    Next time, consider donating the money to a charity that provides shoes for those who can’t buy any.

    Also, might I add that the time I don’t waste primping myself in front of a mirror is time I get to spend reading blogs, reading books, playing piano and seeing people I care about.

  50. FemmeForever

    Not that I feel the need to defend a retail purchase of any kind, but just for the record I’m not an over consumer. I’m a buy now, decide later, and return the excess shopper. I’ll keep the 3 or 4 that I need.

  51. madeleine

    Instead of bying all those (needed) shoes, you could try getting rid of the excess feet.

  52. awhirlinlondon

    Jill writes: “It isn’t okay to be pretty… or beautiful, sexy, or fuckable — it’s all the same thing: a set of behaviors indicating that the woman in question is dominant-culture-compliant.” The observable practice of femininity, in other words.

    Yay! Welcome back!

    I have been thinking about the question of beauty and feminism for a while. “Pretty,” “sexy” and “fuckable” as codes for two different ways of being (equally) “dominant-culture compliant” I get. “Beauty,” however, I wonder about and would like to hear people’s thoughts because genuinely, for me, it’s aw a muddle. First, are refusing the first three really “eschewing beauty” rather than eschewing the visible performance of femininity? I’d argue not. Secondly, is beauty something to be actively avoided? Or have I simply internalized the patriarchy on this one? (Thank you, humanbein, for two terrific responses to this post, incidentally and agasaya as well.) Or am I just being too 18th-C? Not that being too 18th-C would do anything but support the former, I guess, the 18th-C being a celebration of a rigidly class and race-based version of the patriarchy, and this is part of what I’m pondering.

    Does it come down to the question of what we mean by “beauty”? Science has been busy declaring that facial beauty, at least, is a matter of facial symmetry and creating studies that “prove” that babies “naturally” gravitate toward the beautiful rather than the non-symmetrical. Science has also been busily showing that men are “naturally” drawn towards youthful women (as expressed by waist-hip ratios, full lips, thick hair, blah blah blah) because these things are theoretically a physical manifestation of fertility. Well, whatever; most of “science” has always investigated, supported and expressed prevailing ideologies whether they were god-centric or patriarchal.

    Equally, when I think of the women I know who I consider exceptionally beautiful, I know that my judgment is shaped by the ideologies that I have (willingly, unwillingly, wittingly, unwittingly) internalized. I suspect a high degree of facial symmetry. Both have mightily wonderful cheekbones. Both are extremely intelligent, very independent, strong of character, original, good humoured and kind. Neither wears makeup or heels, incidentally though I don’t think that I’m arguing that the presence or absence of makeup etc has much to do with my judgement. One is 50, the other 70. My NOCD grandmother was very beautiful— and she performed age and class-appropriate femininity like you wouldn’t believe. Maybe one of the reasons that I find beauty in age (not that I don’t see it in youth as well) is that I suspect that even a photograph of any of these women would show these characteristics. But my judgment of beauty— my personal aesthetics when it comes to beauty in humans— is doubtlessly (and shamefully) Western and classed as well as more patriarchy-saturated than I bet I’m aware. (Cheekbones, for god’s sake— the first two women are Aryan ideals. My grandmother wasn’t, but she was considered “classically” beautiful – whatever that means—and that’s part of my point; I well know that “classically beautiful” doesn’t in fact transcend time or culture, as the expression would imply.)

    I know this because even as the world becomes increasingly Westernized including taking on “our” ideals of beauty (Asian blepharoplasty being among the most horrifying examples), there are still differences that are shaped by race and culture with respect to what individuals consider “beauty” in either sex, though of course I absolutely grant that in all modern cultures, “we” are a lot more interested in female beauty than in male beauty, i.e. value women based on beauty in a way that we don’t value men, i.e. patriarchy. I know this too because I am aware that what this increasingly homogenized, over-advertised world considers beauty in non-whites is increasingly white-ideal compliant, i.e. compliant with the ruling ideology—Western patriarchy.

    I think too, with a chortle, about the fact that male birds are the “pretty” ones and wonder where that fits in. Somewhere, surely.

    So then is there such a thing as beauty that is independent of ideology? Jill, I understand that this isn’t your central thesis, but you’re claiming not. I think that there is, though suspect that whatever that portion is, it’s much smaller than most of us think. If there is, however, then “eschewing beauty” is — pointless? It would be seriously radical if it meant embracing and enhancing the performance of “ugliness” (a term as ideologically freighted as beauty) though I don’t think that that’s what you’re suggesting.

    Beauty, as you’ve noted, is privilege. And like most privileges (race, class, sex) it is largely unearned. Eschewing beauty, if there is such an innate thing, and I think there is, would either be eschewing beauty proper (uglification?), or refusing the privilege that it grants. We ask men to refuse male privilege, we ask whites to refuse white privilege, we ask those well-socioeconomically placed to refuse — well no, actually we don’t. All we ask of them is a little redistribution of exclusively cash-based privilege and a little open-mindedness when dealing with those not so fortunately placed. (Ginmar used to make that point on this blog with some frequency—I miss her.)

    Practically, aside from not painting, dressing and primping with an eye to compliance with the patriarchy, in terms of accepting or refusing privilege, what would “eschewing beauty” actually mean? And would it make any more sense / be any easier, for example, than eschewing the results of a glorious liberal arts education — something that gives those of us lucky enough to have had one massive amounts of privilege, granting that the majority of people who do have one were born in a very privileged position? Having been born with a very good brain in a particular kind of age and environment and turning it to (among other things) accumulating cultural capital– which reads, however falsely, as “rich” and is deferred to as such) is not so wildly different in terms of unearned merit badges than is lucking into the kind of genes that produce the non-ideologically inflected/saturated component of beauty, whatever that is. To put it simply and to take up your example, I will get that good table because the universe gave me a particular set of genes, dropped me into a life where not only did I get excellent health and dental care but the opportunity to develop the kind of diction, vocabulary and presence such that to the non-rich, my markers “read” rich. And one of those markers, irrespective of patriarchy-compliance, is beauty.

    GYOFB, I know. Shutting the old pie-hole now.

  53. awhirlinlondon

    Oh fuck. It was a thesis. I’m sorry.

  54. AJ

    I have to defend pretty feminists, because I am one, more or less by accident. I work in a “professional” office, where the dudes wear suits and the women put on their patriarchy approved gear. It’s all very distressing, and I personally feel a great deal of guilt about it. When everyone is actually ready to revolt, I’ll be happy to toss my powders, brushes and creams, until then I’ll pay my mortgage. It’s really hard to stand up, when you’ll be standing up alone, and there are plenty of other people willing to fill your spot. I do agree that the whole assertion that make-up is feminist is pretty damn absurd.

    It’s interesting though that beauty is one of the things that women seem to cling to more fiercely. It’s sort of like a feminist marketing technique. Come on in we’ll let you keep your mascara and your heels.

  55. Laughingrat

    This is my greatest feminist shame.

    Kristyn, you should never have to feel ashamed about how the Big P has wormed its way into your psyche. You are not less of a feminist because of that.

    If this were a different blog I’d be making with the internet “hugs” right now, but it’s IBTP, so I’ll make with the internet revolutions instead.

  56. Comrade PhysioProf

    So then is there such a thing as beauty that is independent of ideology?

    There is no such thing as anyfuckingthing that is independent of ideology. The best that human beings can do is attempt to be mindful of the various ideologies that inextricably permeate our existence.

  57. Jill

    “Sure, people listen to the pretty feminists, but nothing really changes.”

    If by “pretty feminists” you mean women who identify as feminists yet remain invested, to the point of defending it as a right, in the beauty mandate: if anybody listens to them, it is only to secure permission, from a perceived female authority figure, to perform beauty. As has been pointed out, women — even feminist women — yearn to perform beauty because they are tired of fighting the powah, and beauty is the path of least resistance, but they don’t wanna feel that damn feminist guilt for wearing carcinogenic mascara.

    This is why, of all the feminists, only the ones who espouse capitulation are ever given any public voice; they’re the only feminists who can sell to thinking women what the beauty industrial complex is hawking.

  58. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    It ain’t that I hate men; I just see them for who they really are. Because this isn’t sniveling submission or fawning adoration (complete with fluttering eyelashes), or self-starvation, de-hairificaition or compressive undergarments, it may be construed as hatred. This is giving me *way* too much credit. At worst, it’s casual disregard or mild contempt. If that feels like hatred, well, imagine how I feel — paid $.69 for every dollar a man earns, judged on the size of my breasts and/or behind, damned if I do and damned if I don’t, not allowed the right to decide what to do with my own reproductive organs. Anyone who accuses me of man-hating needs to avail him or herself of a good dictionary.

  59. JenniferRuth

    Feminist revolution in the western world cannot happen until there is a critical mass of disenfranchised and oppressed women who genuinely want change. We are not close to having this happen – especially when the feminist discourse is still stuck arguing whether it can be empowering to put lipstick on. Or, I should say, a very specific sort of feminism from women who are generally well off and can trade on their femininity.

    I have never seen a feminist tell another woman that they can’t or shouldn’t put on make up/wear high heels/whatever. I have seen radical feminist point out (as Jill does eloquently in this post) that no matter how hard you clutch to ideas of “pretty” and “sexy” you can’t make them feminist. This really seems to infuriate some other feminists. As if it’s all about them personally and not about the patriarchy.

    Jeez.

  60. dr_igloo

    “You couldn’t pay me to touch tofu and the like or have weight loss surgery or engage in any other form of food-is-bad-for-you or get-thin hysteria. If you think that isn’t hard core feminism, try gaining thirty pounds sometime and loving yourself (a lot) anyway.”

    I didn’t know that refusing to eat tofu is a sign of hard-core feminism. Oops. I guess I’m not as feminist as I thought.

  61. Laurie

    I am a make-up & heels wearing feminist and, although I am not about to throw out my lipstick tube just yet, I am open to listening on this issue. I will admit to feeling a little muddled intellectually, yet I am at peace with my personal choices in this area.

    This issue is complex for straight women because, by nature, no matter how feminist we are, we want to please men because we want to have sex and relationships with them. Even if the world were perfectly egalitarian, I would probably be performing to some degree in order to get the men I want to sleep with me. That performance would likely involve differentiating myself in some way from the way men present themselves. (And I would expect that men would engage in some performance themselves.) Theoretically, at least, some degree of womanly performance could be neutral.

    Obviously, in the real world, female performance is not egalitarian. We tend to put much more effort and emotional energy into our appearance and we are valued more based on how we look. Sometimes that seems like our sole source of value. So I definitely see the problems of playing into that mindset.

    At the same time, I do see some value in a straight woman saying, “Look, I’m straight, I like sex, I don’t mind putting some effort into attracting a male partner, but that doesn’t mean I am not a full, competent human being.” Often I think women are punished for playing into the patriarchy’s norms of femininity (we are labeled vain and frivolous) and that hurts women too, since so many women HAVE to play by those norms to get a job, survive in their communities, etc.

    I think I like the idea of attacking this problem from both sides — “I am not going to bow in any way to the requirements of femininity” and “Don’t make any assumptions about me just because I happen to be wearing a skirt and heels.”

  62. Gayle

    The important thing to remember is this is all about queerfemme and queerfemme’s needs.

    “Oh, and ugh. fucking second wavers… betty friedan? geezus fuck. seriously? is that all you’ve got? betty fucking friedan?”

    Oh, and ugh. Betty Friedan was for make up and being feminine and all that important stuff your kicking ass out there in the world for queerfemme. It’s all in her 2nd book.

    Nitwit.

  63. Someone

    I want to add something.

    Adorning the body didn’t used to be “women’s work.” The fact that in other species the male is frequently the one whose destiny hinges on his looks is one thing, but in humans, up until the 20th century male fashion and cosmetics were a close second to being just as huge and mandatory as female pretty is today.

    My point in bringing this up is that there is a certain atavistic fun in dressing up, painting oneself, or body modding – I feel the same way about eating meat. Unfortunately, personal adornment has become a tool of female oppression in “modern” societies and marks us as members of the pink collar ghetto the way men’s boring-ass clothes does not do for them.

    Men have willingly given up the primitive fun of decorating themselves in exchange for continued control over us. Their tools are becoming fewer as more of us wake up, but those they have are aggressively promoted for our internalization and self-oppression (go get me that pretty stick so I can beat you with it).

    Not only this, but men have always tried to limit our personal expressions to those they find acceptably non-threatening and submissive, and we starve for an audience in so many areas of life that any small corner of the stage is eagerly strutted upon.

    So I can understand some of the continued interest in self-adornment – at bottom it is totally human and it is one of the few self-expressive acts we are readily rewarded for. In other words, it SHOULDN’T be a politically fraught act, it SHOULDN’T be a guilty pleasure, it’s SHOULDN’T be circumscribed by sexist limitations…is there something we can work with that doesn’t have to fall into the camp of binary opposition of “does she or doesn’t she?”

  64. Keri

    Just wanted to say I missed your blog. I’m somewhat new to feminism and have been a lurker here for several months. I’ve been reading a lot of feminist blogs, but none of them gets me thinking as much as yours does.

    Thanks to all the commenters, too, for your thought-provoking comments. I’ll be checking out your blogs, too!

  65. Gayle

    Correction:

    It was her third book. It’s called “The Second Stage” if anyone cares to read it.

  66. Gayle

    “Not only this, but men have always tried to limit our personal expressions to those they find acceptably non-threatening and submissive”

    That’s a good point. It’s not like I can paint my face purple and shave half my hair off and be accepted. The rules of female “expressive” adornment are rigid, indeed.

  67. Someone

    Yes Gayle. I was talking about the larger picture actually, for instance – “we’ll tear you down if you try serious work in arts and letters but you go have fun in your closet” type of thing.

    But, given that…is there some usefulness to subversive personal adornment? In working quite individualistically with the very tools we are limited to? Or is it better to refuse to comply on a more wholesale level?

  68. Jezebella

    @Someone: as Comrade P said above, nothing, no act, no one is free of ideology. So, both refusing to adorn, and adorning, and adorning “subversively” (whatever that is) are acts subject to an ideological framework, that being patriarchy.

    I’ll tell you what’s fun, though: costuming for Carnival. Pure for-fun personal adornment is where it’s at, and the P-infected certainly costume in P-approved ways, but lots of people let their freak flag fly, and it’s all alright.

    I’m still not sure what eating tofu has to do with being feminist. Too many Americans think tofu is horrible diet food for grass-eaters, but it’s actually quite tasty prepared properly, and when deep-fried (yum!) it ain’t even close to diet food.

  69. slythwolf

    @kate, I see, that’s great, so I can make enough money to survive without conceding some femininity bullshit as long as I’m temporarily able-bodied? Damn, too bad I don’t meet that requirement. I have to have a job where I sit down all day.

  70. Someone

    Jezebella – yes, I know they are both subject to P, but I’m wondering if there’s some value in finding a middle way between acquiescing and refusal.

    I’m with ya on the tofu – I don’t see the connection either. I love Jia Chiang Dou Fu.

  71. snow black

    Jill, your writing is like a cool drink of pure spring water.

    I second what Kate says about the trades. I’m training in one now, and “looking professional” for the customer consists of being clean and neatly dressed. Freedom.

  72. yttik

    Costuming, dressing up, “subversive personal adornment,” are one of my favorite artistic outlets. We sew a lot of costumes for plays, parades, festivals, etc. But even this has been co-opted. Several months before Halloween, designers actually turn to the adult entertainment industry to find out what’s hot and get costume ideas. This is exactly why you see kid’s costumes on the rack now days that are miniature versions of strippers and porn stars. You have stripper pirate, sexy vampire, French maid, etc. If you have a good eye and a demented sense of humor, you can even spot the BDSM influences on off the rack Halloween costumes. This is because that is literally where the designs originated from.

    Last year I handed out candy to several naughty school girls and playboy bunnies under the age of 10. Sexy isn’t feminist, it’s a patriarchal perversion that creates a lot of pedophiles.

  73. kristyn

    The trades are tricky.

    This blamer worked as a blacksmith/farrier for a time in her teen years and was decently skilled at it (horses tend to stand well for the farrier when said farrier doesn’t beat them, who knew?!)

    Unfortunately, this blamer also has an ”hourglass” figure and, how to say this delicately? Big breasts. No matter how thin I got, these jugs stayed a solid 36B, which doesn’t seem big until you take into consideration the rest of me.
    Even in a jumpsuit, they took center stage in the icky male brain.

    This was not a problem when I was underage, thank the lard for small favors (puke). But the minute I turned 18, my clients heard it through the grape vine, and it got so bad that I had to resign from active farrier work a week later. I still messed around making stuff at the forge, but my coworkers and mentor had got wind of my legal fucking age and came sniffing around as well. So I quit altogether.

    Trades hate women. The hatred for the pretty is actually hatred for women, because these things have become falsely conflated in the public eye. You can play with the boys as long as you don’t ”look like a girl” — be that by wearing makeup, being young, having breasts, what have you, but if you ”look like a girl” they will rip you apart.

    Also, as slythwolf said, one really has to be quite able-bodied to work in a trade, and not everybody has that.

  74. Tata

    The trades may be a great place now, but twenty-five years ago, when I interviewed with the IBEW, a committee member actually said, “Why should we give you the job and take it away from a man supporting a family?” At the time, neither of the two locals I applied to had even a single woman. Looking back on it, I might have had the strength to fight that fight every day, but maybe not.

  75. ashley

    this talk about trades made me remember a woman mechanic I once knew who was really good and efficient and could command the quiet respect of Doods with Severe Car Troubles who also looked very feminine. It was a little unbelievable, her hair was perfectly straight and loose and shiny even though her head was ducking underneath hoods and chassi. it seemed more like a statement that she wasn’t a man than that she was fuckable, but in patriarchy, those two things are the same thing. We are the other, the fuckable, and so to define ourselves as such, we must be feminine. If we want to define ourselves as women, we go to fuckable because that’s what we’ve been taught to know.

    what is a non-fuckable woman and what is her relevance? self-defined, it seems.

    what about the kind of femininity that is not puttable-on in the morning? women have been bred by men for thousands of years to have certain qualities that they deem as feminine. what about the kind of femininity you can’t wash off at night? just wondering. small hands, tiny waists, “pretty” faces.

  76. ashley

    somehow missed your comment, Kristyn. but that was my point exactly.

  77. FemmeForever

    Tofu is an instrument of the dieting industry.

    Are you seriously saying that the frenetic obsession with body weight isn’t a feminist issue? Surely you jest.

  78. Frumious B.

    @kate: “Women who conform to the feminine stereotype are perceived as wanting to draw attention to their sexuality, are assumed to not want to work very hard, to get by on their looks and are often harassed endlessly by men who think that her make-up and teh ’sexy’ are come-ons.”

    Sadly, this is also true in the white-collar world.

  79. Laurie

    This is likely geographic, but I think the legal field is fairly open about how women present themselves. As far as I can tell a pantsuit, sensible shoes, and no make-up are perfectly acceptable. Clean, neat, and understated seems to be the standard. I actually think that femming it up too much is more of a risk than not femming it up enough, but there is a wide range of acceptable ways to present yourself as long as you aren’t showing up in jeans and a t-shirt.

    That said, as Deborah Tannen noted, no matter what you do or how accepting your environment, as a woman you are inevitably making some kind of statement by the way you present your appearance.

  80. goblinbee

    Citizen Jane: “There is definitely a privilege issue here, especially when we bring class into it. Lots of women do not enjoy the privilege of choosing their own appearance while also maintaining a job and/or a roof over their own head.”

    Well, if it’s just the privileged ladies who have the luxury of not prettying up, that’s still a whole lot of people. You gotta start somewhere.

  81. speedbudget

    Slythwolf and Jezebella:

    I work as a court reporter, which used to be a male-dominated profession. I think about the same time secretarial work got turned into women’s work was when court reporting became more woman-centered.

    We make almost as much as the lawyers in the room because our work is so esoteric, and it’s just damn hard. I have the freedom to be as barely Beauty2K-compliant as I need to be in order to not be looked at funny when showing up in professional venues. I work at home a lot. It’s a sit-down job, slyth. The hardest part was learning the shorthand, then it’s all up to you really, as far as gaining the necessary speed. You can learn at home even. Get a job captioning telecasts, and you never have to leave your home.

    I am making enough money now that I just bought a home, and I pay all my own bills, and I can have the fun that I want to have. It’s a great job, and I recommend it to anybody with a penchant for words and an affinity for typing or the like. It’s challenging mentally, not so much physically. And it gives you that freedom to be you. You are in control in the job, and if you show up in khakis and a slightly more dressy top than you would wear out for drinks in the summer, no one says anything to you cause (1) you don’t work for anybody there and (2) all of them know they couldn’t do your job for shit.

  82. dr_igloo

    Tofu is an instrument of the dieting industry, eh? By the same logic, I guess probably vegetables and water are also such instruments then. Perhaps you should eschew those as well, FemmeForever, to prove your feminist credentials.

  83. kristyn

    Yes, FemmeForever, enjoying (or at least not hating) tofu and dieting are not synonymous. Liking tofu is not the same as having a body image issue, but nice straw-vegan.

    Spoken as someone who has a body image issue but likes tofu. Deep-fried, sweet-and-sour tofu. Or tofu flavored and seasoned like buffalo ”wings.” Or frosted, super-moist vegan cake made with tofu instead of eggs.

    It doesn’t ONLY come in that horrid chalky-white block and you don’t have to eat it raw.

    See, I like to eat, enjoy eating, and don’t obsess over food, count calories, or binge-eat — I just wish my body would go away sometimes.

  84. goblinbee

    Jezebella:”Speaking of which, please tell me: what is this utopian workplace where women can earn enough money to live on without making one single concession to the practice of femininity? I’m curious.”

    I don’t remember mentioning a utopian workplace.

    But, in my experience, public school tachers can run the looks gamut. Teaching is one of those “in the trenches” jobs: people just care if you can do it. I sat on a number of hiring committes (mostly for new teachers*, but also once for the school secretary and once for the custodian), and what we looked for was someone smart, caring, competent, and a team player.

    *And by new, I don’t mean young.

    Not that anyone would want to get into teaching! I’m with Jill on this one–I have come to be highly suspicious of compulsory education. Also, the pay is crap, but still enough to pay the bills if you are careful (I am). My starting salary as a brand-new teacher in Fall of 2000 (at the age of 43) was $20,000. That was in Utah, the state with THE LOWEST per-student spending in the nation, which is reflected in teacher salaries.

  85. goblinbee

    Ack. Of course I meant public school “teachers.”

  86. Lythea

    Forgive me for disagreeing slightly. I do of course agree with the bulk of what’s been said, but I’m imagining a scenario in which I’ve got a lovely fellow dressed to the nines in his three piece suit. Would it be anti-feminist of me to adopt an equivalent costume?

    As a sculptor I often find myself in the distinctly old-fashioned position of wanting to create beautiful objects. Appreciating and creating beauty is one of the major joys in my life.

    As someone who grew up weirdly outside of society, with no clue how to go about making friends, let alone how to put on makeup or appear normal in any way, I do have some almost aesthetic appreciation for intricate dance of social approval we all engage in. That I’ve tried so very hard to learn. Quaint tribal rituals and whatnot.

    Anyway, I’ve been fortunate enough to never feel personally oppressed, except for when I’m reading unfortunate statistics. Do you fine feminists think I’m contributing to your oppression by choosing to wear skirts and a bit of eye makeup on occasion? This is an honest question, I think I truly don’t understand a feminist mindset.

  87. Jezebella

    FemmeForever, this is some racist bullshit right here: “Tofu is an instrument of the dieting industry.”

    Tofu has been around in Asia since the Han Dynasty, before the “diet industry” ever existed. Christ, lady, look past your own nose for a minute.

  88. humanbein

    What is beauty? is a delightful topic of discussion and worthy of as much time and thought as you desire to put into it.

    Beauty is everything that is free of the corruption of cultural bias. Attractiveness is often confused with beauty, because the primary use of a human being is to arouse male lust, and a failure to arouse lust sufficiently can cause untoward attention from other human beings of both sexes.

    I mean, just for a start. I find beauty easiest in those who I love who are the least damaged by others. I say this because I love some people who have been damaged in different ways, and the traces that it leaves on them makes me sad, because I love them.

    Children are the loveliest humans of all for just this reason. They are so untouched by culture that they delight us by being purely human, though often in need of instruction of the virtues of empathy and forgiveness, among other culture-free virtues. Cats and dogs are beautiful because they are also untouched by human culture to a certain extent.

    Mountains, deserts, seashores, coral reefs, trees, flowers -I could go on and on.

  89. Jill

    The diet industry has many instruments, but I don’t think tofu is one of’em.

    I don’t know why it is so reviled by mainstream Americans. It’s not like it tastes like puke or something. Like potatoes and rice and pasta, it’s merely bland. When you put a bunch of fat up in there, it tastes great.

    People with breast cancer are banned from eating soy products. Soy estrogen will kill us, apparently.

  90. phio gistic

    Computer-centric work is a good place for not having to dress up. Hardware support, programming, web site building, graphic design, audio and video editing, etc. There are a lot of free classes online for many of these things.

  91. rowmyboat

    The sweet-and-sour tofu bandwagon, I am on it.

    You roll in it flour and then deep fry it. And then you coat it (in my kitchen, at least) in sauce made of ketchup, rice vinegar, sauteed onions, garlic, and ginger, soy sauce, and some other stuff.

    Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, completely delicious, and in no diet but the see-food diet.

  92. madeleine

    Jill, I’m so happy you’re back and posting again – I’m still traumatized from the “Spinster Aunt Still AWOL” post way back when.
    I take this opportunity to offer you my heartfelt apologies for slapping you right in the email one time (two?) with musings about my ‘personal heterosexual sex life’, and for not abstracting my points from that and thus offending your sensibilities (I think I need a no-irony icon here, I’m really sorry and thanking all the beers for letting me say this at last).
    Blame on!
    More on topic: I’m sitting here at home in my own preferred clothes after doing my work as a translator, which allows me to only ‘interact in person {and virtually} with live adults’ that I choose to interact with, whenever I choose to. Whoever in the blametariat aspires to that: try. The pay in peace of mind is better that it could ever be in money.

  93. kristyn

    Jill, soy products are technically bad for everyone. They do unhealthy things to one’s hormone levels when consumed at a high enough level

    THAT is a concern which makes sense. The diet industry does sometimes tell women to eat (plain) tofu or (plain) tofu-based things to ”get thin” — except that the estrogen in the tofu fucks with one’s hormones, not only effecting one’s emotions, digestions, bone densities etc., but also potentially causing one to gain weight.

    But tofu in moderation is fine, unless you’ve been advised against it by a medical professional (a la Jill).

    And anyway, the same things said about tofu can be said about milk, except with the addition of obscene animal cruelty thrown in there.
    If you eat in America and don’t grow it all yourself in a little backyard garden, you are part of a problem. Often multiple problems.

  94. Someone

    Madeleine – I have worked in translation too – what’s your target language? It is a fine alternative to anything one has to dress for, but all the scammers out there trying to get work for free and/or dirt cheap is discouraging. Can you offer a ray of hope there?

  95. Someone

    Kristyn, has soy proven to be that big a problem in Asia? I should look it up… And the milk thing, are we talking real milk, or the rBST version?

    Eating in America has been fucked with for sure – what looks like real food often actually isn’t anymore – see Pollan’s *Omnivore’s Dilemma* par exemple.

  96. Tina H

    You roll in it flour and then deep fry it. And then you coat it (in my kitchen, at least) in sauce made of ketchup, rice vinegar, sauteed onions, garlic, and ginger, soy sauce, and some other stuff.

    ‘Course you could probably do that to sweat socks and it’d taste good. Just sayin’.

  97. wendyann

    I have a confession. I really do hate men. I loathe them, I want nothing to do with them. I have been alive for forty years now and one thing I’ve learned over and over again is that men are easily hated. Why? Because of the way they behave, that’s why. They are selfish and piggish and controlling.

    I do not and I have never, ever, ever in my life played the beauty game. One of my sisters, who has played the beauty game, thinks she has a much better life than I with the wealthy (controlling) husband, the big house (that she has to clean) no kids due to her MS, and a shitload of soul-destroying unhappiness that she talks to me constantly about.

    I know where her problem lies. It lies in her sublimating her very self to what she’s been led to believe is what she is supposed to be. My sister is most women. I have never been married, have always been on the lesbian side of bi and am not wealthy. But I am a whole hell of a lot happier than she is.

    I wear clothes, like Molly Ivins once said, so I am not naked. I’m wearing a three dollar t-shirt and a pair of pants that were less than ten dollars. I do NOT ever, ever, ever wear make-up. I don’t own any. I am the farthest from beauty compliant one could ever imagine. I do not consider myself ugly, though. Never have.

    I don’t know why I never fell for the propaganda. I wish I did know so I could spread the secret so other women aren’t shackled for life by expectations of what they should be. Maybe it’s because I’m a weirdo who has never cared what other people think of me?

    Maybe because I never wanted children so I didn’t ever think I needed to be married? I really don’t know. It just makes me so angry though, at how women are expected to act. I think sometimes I’m also angry at the women who meet the expectations piled onto them.

    I don’t know. Is this post incoherent enough?

  98. madeleine

    @ Someone: hope for me was always in literary translation: keep on doing it and maybe when you’re 49 you can imagine that one day you’ll be safe, like me. Don’t hope for much money. I’m studiying Chinese now (a ten-year plan) hoping to keep this lifestyle till I die.

    Soy makes men grow breasts and apparently it can destroy your liver if consumed in too much quantity. But frying it is yummy.

  99. madeleine

    PS My source language is Dujch and my target language is Russian, so I guess I’m somewhat privileged in that.

  100. madeleine

    Oops: “Dutch”. Now I’ll shut up.

  101. Jezebella

    Goblinbee, I taught high school for a year, and I believe you that one’s hiring and promotion are not so much tied to appearance in that profession.

    That said, the non-stop surveillance of my personal appearance by a bunch of teenagers was absolutely brutal. Talk about enforcement. Those kids noticed *everything* and commented on it at will. I also noticed that on the days I wore pants, the kids were way out of control, and the days I dressed in skirts and pumps like a grownup, they unconsciously granted me more authority and respectful treatment. So, no, my bosses weren’t checking my pantyhose, but the kids were absolutely rigorous about rewarding patriarchal compliance and punishing lack of it.

  102. kate

    Tata: “The trades may be a great place now, but twenty-five years ago, when I interviewed with the IBEW, a committee member actually said, “Why should we give you the job and take it away from a man supporting a family?” At the time, neither of the two locals I applied to had even a single woman.”

    I’m really glad to see so much discussion about the trades, I don’t feel so alone because I don’t get to meet much of any women out here.

    I remember experiencing exactly what you described when I worked in a grocery store. I figured meat cutting would be a fast track to get the salary I needed to raise myself and my kids slightly over poverty.

    But it was not to be. At least two managers in different stores told me bluntly, “I won’t have a woman cutting meat under me.” Once right in front of a store manager who should have stood up for the law, but he didn’t and I was young and scared and said nothing. Like you, I look back and wonder, what would have happened if?

    But more than likely I would have been fired just as I feared then. I heard comments like the above as well all the time, “I am a man with a family to support.” The words still burn in my brain, because I had a family to support as well and a man who refused. I’d still like to punch the SOB’s, each and every one of them.

    But the attitude today is different. Sure there are idiots and assholes, but nothing like twenty years ago. They cower in the dark shadows, powerless and angry while managers now understand that they can suffer repercussions for discriminating, or at least they believe they can.

    Of course that’s not to say they are all good. I’ve got my stories, but its tolerable enough that I think I can survive and I don’t have to wear a dress and sit on a chair all day, which for me is the most important.

  103. nails

    “Telling someone how they ought to look, I think is problematic no matter who’s doing the telling, men or feminists”

    Oh ugh. This is not at the author of this comment so much as the sentence, which I have read over and over again, in a variety of situations.

    People never say this sort of thing in response to stuff like foot binding, most won’t say it regarding burqas or FGM or neck rings or other non western things. Being unable to see the brutality in things like plastic surgery or starving because it has been normalized doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If you were watching from Mars all this time, all this beauty shit would seem equally crazy. In those cases, where the beauty ritual isn’t familiar to us and seems painful or debilitating, people seem to understand that a feminist is suggesting something, and giving a reason why, while critisizing the alternative. There is no discussion about how saying people shouldn’t do something is equal to restricting their freedom to do it, and that the restriction on freedom is equal to a dominant social structure’s power to restrict or grant freedom. Jill’s criticism of beauty ritual isn’t telling anyone what to do in a bossy or demanding way, like is suggested with the sort of comment I quoted. People who think that her suggestion to stop is wrong should say so and why, not attack her for voicing it. I am not sure how Jill could make the argument she did without voicing it, it would be pretty cruel to not say anything from her perspective. If I told a bunch of feminists that its a good idea to give money to a feminist group, and explained why, would I be bossing anyone around? Would I be as bad as advertising that suggests that people spend their money in the opposite manner? I wish I could ban the accusations against feminists for “telling women what to do”, and therefore just like the patriarchy. If feminists weren’t asking us to do something what the hell would they talk about exactly? If I think people should act because it will improve the world, how am I supposed to ask without being told I am being dominant and bossy like the patriarchy? The clear difference between Jills suggestion and the default one, is that the default one is well funded, prevalent, and has negative institutional and social consequences for those who do not follow the suggested guidelines. Lets ban this phrase along with the man hating one. It is getting silly.

  104. kristyn

    Someone — what madeleine said.

    I don’t have any studies in front of me. I can’t link you to where I read that soy products can cause harm when consumed in large quantities. I am not a soy researcher, nor is this a soy research blog.

    But I did read it. And my stepmother, who has been an osteopathic physician for thirty years and is the only medical professional I actually trust, has said corroborating things.

    Westerners eat more soy than most Asians do. We eat more of pretty much everything than anyone else does, anywhere. It’s true. So we feel greater effects of soy consumption than Asians do, and the effects of high soy consumption are not good. However, eating soy in moderation is fine for most people. Strawvegan again.

    And yes, ALL milk causes some problem of some sort. Human beings are not supposed to consume cow’s milk. I’m not saying you shouldn’t — it’s not my job to shame people out of any sort of diet, diet meaning ”food choices” and not ”food restrictions”. I am a freegan myself and have been known to enjoy milk-based products, such as cheese and certain kinds of chocolate. But it’s not exactly GOOD for you. It’s not bad in moderation, it’s just not super good.

    I’m not really clear on why you are asking these questions, so if I’ve misread you, I apologize. Perhaps I am used to being spoken to and interrogated by men.
    And I also apologize to everyone for the temporary derailment.

  105. zora

    Oh My Best Beloved Twisty/Jill-

    If only I had the time to tell you how much you’ve explicated my life for me.

    Just the other day, I was trying to tell myself why it mattered that it really bothers me to have guys telling me ALL the FRIKiN’ time that they approve of my looks. You are, indeed a Goddess of Words.

    I don’t shave; I don’t wear make up; I wear jeans and tee shirts like everybody else, but I happen to be a cis gendered,white, cunt, so they feel the need to stamp me with their approval.
    And, because I did not get that when I was a kid I simultaneously eat it up AND want to kill myself.

    I Blame the Patriarchy. (And the fact that my very own brothers started raping me when I was two.)

    But, alas, as well versed as I may be in English, I have been wondering what was wrong with me until I ran into your blog.

    Thank you from the depths of my heart.

    You can expect to hear (read) pretty much these same kind of comments in the future.

    ZORA!

  106. nails

    Kristyn- “And yes, ALL milk causes some problem of some sort. Human beings are not supposed to consume cow’s milk. ”

    Humans who have ancestors that have been consuming cows milk for a long time inherited traits evolved specifically to digest it. Heritage is a major element of how lactose tolerant a person is. The idea that we are not supposed to consume dairy brings up the naturalistic fallacy anyway.

  107. Jill

    As far as diet, and speaking as someone who drinks a quart of organic Liquid Sanctimony every day, I suggest starting with Michael Pollan’s pretty good advice: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

    Where “food” means something from the outer rim of the grocery store, something that will spoil in a few days.

    Pollan’s little book Food Rules is a convenient food-eater’s primer that sort of condenses all his food wisdom and can be adapted for the vegetarian or vegan cults.

  108. pheenobarbidoll

    There has never been a way to cook tofu that made it palatable. Plenty of people have practically shoved it down my throat in a gleeful attempt to prove how *they* cook it is different and therefore nommy.

    You can smother broccoli in velveeta and I still won’t like it, so who knows. Maybe I have some aversion to healthy food.

    I can only ingest fried okra. Otherwise, it’s like eating green snot.

    Women are forever making concessions. Pretty is the easiest as far as it doesn’t take much to slap on some face paint and shave your legs. Being aware that it’s a concession, that’s where it gets sticky.

    Some women will adamantly state they only do it because they like it. Now, given I’m no mind reader and it’s certainly not my place to tell then what they really like or not, I’m not going to state ” It’s because you were taught to like it”. Women have brains. Functioning brains. So with that in mind, I will ask them to press deeper into their psyches and ask themselves if they really really like it, or could it be P training. They don’t have to tell me the answer. That they think about it is enough.

  109. goblinbee

    “People never say this sort of thing in response to stuff like foot binding…”

    Nails, I just quoted that snippet, but I loved your comment in its entirety.

  110. SargassoSea

    Braise the Lard and pass the Liquid Sanctimony; Jill’s back!

    The Sea-brain has been examining the concept of *ambition* of late, to whit: why, specifically, I have been deemed “un-ambitious” and even “lazy” all of my life? This brilliant post and ensuing thread (while neither quite match the fucking beauty of the things to be found in Jill’s hair!) dove-tails, oh so nicely and I thank all of you.

    And, cain’t hep mysef:

    Mook + Cooter = Mook Cooter!

  111. Carolyn

    One of the things I’ve really appreciated learning from the internet feminists over the past few years is that we all do whatever we need to do to survive in the situations we’re in. There’s no point in me feeling snotty or superior to the teenager in her p-compliant finery; she’s doing what she needs to do to get by in her world. Having said that though I also understand that there’s no point in claiming that what we do is radical/feminist/empowerfuling/whatever–it’s a lot healthier for all of us if we accept that we all have our own priorities.

    I’ll throw my occupation out there as well, just in case anyone really is looking to change careers–I’m a civil engineer/project manager and have never had to ‘pretty up’ for work. I currently work part-time random hours (couldn’t be bothered to do fuck-all today except read blogs), make plenty to live on, and it’s not a problem that I get my hair cut by a barber and don’t shave, put on makeup, or wear anything uncomfortable or restricting. I work from home most of the time these days; when I meet with clients I wear nice clothes, but nothing more p-compliant than a man would wear (and I consider myself better off than my male colleagues who feel they need to wear ties).

    But I’ve come to understand that this freedom is a result of privilege–I have a specialised skill (thanks to having had the foresight to pick the right genes and parents) and perform it well enough that the people I work with are willing to take me as I am. In addition, I don’t feel the need for the financial or emotional support of a male partner, so I don’t have to ‘pretty up’ for that either–but that again is privilege, of a sort, and the luck of the draw that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t find it difficult to eschew those kinds of relationships.

    This is the tofu recipe I use to make tofu for people who say they don’t like it:
    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/carolyn.dougherty/Carolyn_Dougherty/tofu.html

  112. Kiuku

    I think people can genuinely like displaying individuality by shaping their body. This is different than “beauty”. One time I saw these two girls, who were, as Patriarchy would define, stunningly beautiful in feature, but they had the coolest hair. It was jazzed up! Hair chopped up and huge all over! Maybe it was a new style I don’t know. I thought it was amazing, very individual, and so I saw them as individuals, despite having standardly beautiful features, and definitely not what you would conventionally find on a person trying to be pretty, with you know, i dont know curls or something. I think that’s cool. It almost seemed revolutionary, taking back ownership of owns body. It doesn’t have to be different, people who take an individual pride in their appearance is probably the same. But beauty in general is an oppression. You don’t find men’s appearance a matter of general discussion.

    The way women are primed to men in images and in speech and in stories, the extent to which they have to be sexualized in order for men to get off, leads me to beleive that men may inherantly be homosexual. Truthfully.

  113. Azundris

    This may be a really dumb question, but why is everybody so obsessed with tofu anyway, when falafel actually tastes nice? (That, and more people seem ready to try a falafel-y dish, though whether that is due to the taste of tofu or other connotations, I cannot say.)

  114. Hedgepig

    Kiuku, I reckon men are naturally indiscriminate: any port in a storm, basically. Women’s orifices are the culturally ordained sites for male insertion, hence the relentless training of both sexes to view women as receptacles, but without the conditioning men would happily stick it in anyone/thing. And many do, despite society’s best efforts to restrict their insertions to female humans.
    Those men who require a very particular presentation of female orifices in order to get off are the section of the male population who have best absorbed society’s conditioning.

  115. Jezebella

    How is falafel even remotely a near alternative to tofu? I think the tofu-haters are obsessed. It’s the tofu-eaters that are like, why are you harshing my mellow? I like tofu, get over it.

  116. mearl

    Last week I was in class at uni watching group presentations. I was sitting with members of my own group – a couple of dolled-up girls, both in their early twenties. They clearly spend a lot of time adhering to society’s expectations of what women should look like. From my minimal conversations with them, I’ve concluded that neither has read a line of feminist theory in her life.

    One group went up, and one of the group members was a tall girl with a deep voice (like mine) who doesn’t wear makeup and dresses in glasses, loose jeans, hoodies, and cargo jackets. I have no clue if she is a feminist but I suspect that she just dresses like that because she prefers it, not because she’s actively flouting femininity. This girl started presenting and the two girls from my group had the following exchange in whispers:

    “God, she is SO ugly.”
    “Yeah, I know.”

    I thought, “Wow, they’re not even paying attention to a word that girl is saying.”

    Further down in the theatre-style lecture room, other P2K-compliant, dyed-blond, “stylish,” makeup-laden twenty-somethings had their laptops open and were perusing, as they generally do every class, websites such as “Who What Wear” and NYLON.

    This, by the way, is at the lefty liberal uni where everything is taught through the scope of feminism (whatever that’s defined as these days), postmodernism, postcolonialism, aboriginal studies, queer theory, anarchist activism, anti-ageism, and multiculturalism (I’m sure there are a few more ‘-isms’ I have forgotten). It’s hard to tell, when walking the hallways, what gender a LOT of people are. You can walk around and see posters about vegan brunches, conferences on justice in the Middle East and the Atheist Students Association meetings lining the bulletin boards alongside ads for “Dress Up As A Playboy Bunny” bar nights. I’m no exception: I’m a makeup-wearing, long-haired, occasional leg-shaving, hipster-trend-following hetero hypocrite. When I start talking, however, I scare off men and women alike.

    I’ve noticed that the current strain in pop/academic feminism is the sex-positive, Betty-Page-is-my-idol, declaring-oneself-bisexual-and-checking-out-hawt-girls sort. Plenty of Stitch’n'Bitch, burlesque, and leopard-print accessorizing abounds. Last week the Women’s Center had a joint discussion event with the Christian Students’ Association about how to be a christian feminist.

    Second Wave ideas, books, and activists have been dismissed without a thought. The idea is that you can choose whatever sort of feminism you want, be it shaving your head and not bothering with femininity, or glopping on so much femininity that you could very well be RuPaul. Meanwhile, the mainstream media-fuelled juggernaut rolls on and affects ALL women, and men, in very real ways.

    I understand exactly what Jill is saying: that as long as women are trapped in world where we, disproportionally to men, are valued – ahead of anything else – according to an insane and constructed standard of beauty, body type, eating habits, attitude, shoe and clothing choice, way of moving/speaking, lack of body or facial hair, and overall bearing, the fight for women’s rights is going to be buried under that standard.

    I don’t agree with all of it, but the one thing I really liked about Second Wave feminism was that it had a sort of unity and that’s how things got DONE. “Femininity” by Susan Brownmiller was, and still is, a fantastic book. But even though no woman in her right mind would disagree with the suffragists’ platform for getting voting rights and status as persons and property-holders, these days it’s pretty much trendy to dismiss ideas brought up by Second Wavers, one of those ideas being that femininity is mostly constructed and harmful to women as a whole. These days, it’s all discourse, discourse, discourse. Statement and refutation, debate. Sometimes I just tap out and daydream about massive riots being orchestrated by millions of women who agreed that some aspect of patriarchy has to go.

    This blog keeps me going AND reminds me what a hypocrite I am. Thanks, Jill.

  117. Amananta

    Tofu-hating is understandable when one realizes that “tofu” is shorthand for “liberal, PC, hippiefied, womanish, non-beef-loving and probably terrorist anti-Americans!” in the imaginations of those glued to the FOX news channels every spare moment of their days. Eating it is an affront to the myth of the happy patriarchal way of life.

    My mind boggles at the idea that wasting huge amounts of money on several pairs of shoes that don’t sound remotely like they are built for walking could possibly be construed by any clear-headed person as something they just spontaneously did out of a desire to be pretty, which of course was never influenced by fifty million advertisements everywhere we look in civilization showing us what we, as women, ought to look like. Sandals are not good walking shoes. Sneakers are good walking shoes. You can find a decent pair for 20-50 bucks, if you can afford that. I can’t even afford that. So I’m hard-pressed to have sympathy for the plight of someone who feels maligned in their purported feminist ideals after bragging about spending the equivalent of 2-3 weeks worth of grocery money for my family on pointless footwear that just so happens, ha ha, to be beauty2k compliant. But then again, I blame the patriarchy, of course, for having shoved the idea of beauty down our throats and followed it up with a big gob of “and you just do it because you LIKE IT, you’re just doing it from your own free will and natural desire to be PRETTY, DON’T YOU!? SAY IT!”

    It is admittedly hard for me to stamp down my disgust at women and girls who actively promote patriarchy approved beauty compliance. I should try harder, I guess, but my patience has steadily eroded after the thousandth conversation about such stupidities as the above mentioned stupefyingly inaccurate claim that ripping out all the hair on one’s vulva is somehow “hygienic”, or they really just do it because they “don’t like their body hair, no one influences them to do it”, or “it just makes them feel sexier”. I’m “old” (i.e., over 30) but I can assure you there was a day, way back in the dark ages of the 1980s, by which time I had, like most other young Americans, been exposed to largish amounts of videos and photos of pornified women who were presented as beautiful and they all were in full possession of their pubic hair. I never even heard of the concept of removing it until 1988, and then only as an extremely out there, wild, sexually obscene practice. Fast forward to about 6 years ago when I discovered through a rare chance reading of a “women’s magazine” that “everybody” shaves or waxes or “at least trims” now for hygienic reason “except a few old dirty hippies”. Is this even true? I’ve contemplated doing an informal poll of gynecologists. But trust me, as recently as 20 years ago this was almost unheard of, and men mysteriously weren’t having any trouble getting it up when faced with the terrifying prospect of an adult female body, and women weren’t loudly proclaiming their random, sudden, inexplicable desire to rip out the hair from their vulvas so they could be so transported by sexual ecstasy they could barely stand leaving their beds.

    I feel sort of guilty for the long comment but I’ve missed you Twisty!

  118. ash

    Someone must have alerted the CDC to the unhygienic state of the existence of female pubic hair circa the late 90s. In the early/mid-90s, in the college gym locker room, over the course of a year I showered with dozens, maybe hundreds of women, and never saw one. single. solitary. bald or “landing strip” style pube area on any of them. Hair may have been shaved on the thigh at most. And this was in college, with lotsa young hetero women who were no doubt getting nekkid with dudes who I imagine were no doubt able to get it up. It must have been shortly thereafter that the CDC issued its warnings.

  119. pheenobarbidoll

    Many Tofu lovers are passive aggressive, not laid back. It’s always “here try it THIS way, other people who hate it LOVE this way”.

    Stop. I don’t shove meat at you and order you to try it because I just know I have the sooper special touch and (most importantly) know better than you what you like. And am entitled to try to force you to hear the pitch then try the product.

    My tongue knows better than you. Deal with it.

  120. Valerie

    Hello Everyone-

    Beauty standards, Fuck that noise!

    It can’t be considered art if it’s a standard, can it?

    Thanks Twisty for being the voice of reason, yet again.

  121. madeleine

    It’s not paradise, but those hairy discussions make me love my country. Not long ago a national, mainstream newspaper had a short, funny piece from a journalist visiting the US, about her visit to a beauty salon for a pedicure.
    The beautician looked at her legs, very, very shocked, and went to get a superior. The superior looked, looked and at last had the courage to formulate what they saw: ‘Lady! Your legs! There’s HAIR on them!’

  122. iamlegs

    On tofu:
    According to ‘Healing with Whole Foods’ by Paul Pitchford*, too much tofu causes dampness in the body (read: helpful to yeast infections) and may interfere with kidney health.
    I’m not sure what ‘too much’ is. My general rule is: if you want to eat something, you need it, and if you don’t, you don’t. The substances that don’t fall under this rule of mine are sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
    That being said, I absolutely adore fresh-made tofu from the traditional market here in Taiwan. And tofu is like any other food: it can be made well or badly.

    On being employable without gender-performative drag:
    I was going to suggest voice recording, because I can go wearing basically pajamas, but then I remembered that I’m required to voice perform the most purulent versions of femininity imaginable.
    Nurse! Mom! Fattie-hating diet girl! Girls who don’t understand this thing called math! Girls and women that suck up to the male characters!
    In English-teaching materials, there are no female doctors, no male nurses or teachers. The male voices must do the titles and numbers. The female voices must read the vocabulary and grammar examples. In the rare cases that both voices read vocabulary, the man must read it first. Of course! GAH.
    And when you’re in a position to bring up possible changes to the client, which is frankly not often, there’s ‘no time’ to change the script.

    Let us end on a joyful note, however. In the book series that I just finished recording today, in one dialog, a girl was encouraged by her friend to object to being sexually harassed. “If you’re silent he’ll just think he can keep doing it.”
    I wanted to stand up and cheer.

    *This book is like my bible of healthy eating and food-as-medicine, by the way. I have cured myself of high fevers and other nasty inflammations with his suggestions.

  123. nails

    I am making falafel burgers tonight. Just FYI.

    I am one of the youngins who doesn’t shave anything (except my head, sometimes), I have made a point of talking about how pointless it is to shave pubic hair. It is maddening to hear girls stand around and shit talk my pubic hair, say my junk is dirtier than theirs, when I know how new this whole thing is and how people got along just fucking fine with pubes for the last…forever. A few of the queer women my age said they wouldn’t do it with girls who don’t shave. It was really fucked up. I have tried shaving in the past though, and I am not sure how anyone stands that shit. It itches like mad and gets mean sharp stubble. I don’t even know how scraping a razor against your skin, irritating the shit out of it, possibly breaking skin and causing ingrown hairs, which can get infected, could ever be more hygienic than just washing up regularly.

  124. Leigh Woosey

    Hello Jill and others!

    There is such a thought-provoking and articulate diversity of views here, but there is something I feel quite strongly about and want to add. Something about the actual blaming.

    Firstly it is not the fault of women who act feminine for how they get treated. It is the fault of the people who treat them. No man, or woman, has to think better of someone because they fit a definition of how to look. No-one has to give them special treatment or leer or think they are weaker. It’s the fault of the people who respond to femininity that way.

    But isn’t it also the fault of the people who deliberately dress that way? Well so what? They’ll stop trying to get those perks when they stop being given out preferentially. The status of femininity has to change in the minds of people who have internalized patriarchal ideas first. After all, why shouldn’t someone- anyone of any gender- wear pink frills and make up, or whatever is defined as feminine in that time and place?

    It is not wrong to be feminine- it is wrong to treat people differently because they are more masculine or feminine. That’s part of what the pro-femininity feminists are trying to push for.

    It may be wrong, but are they to blame? I would say ‘NO and Yes’. Nobody asks to be raised in a sexist society, nobody gets to choose the circumstances of their births. These ideas (however unpleasant or debilitating) are part of their culture, history and personal identity- and those are things that are very very hard to give up. Are they to blame for not being critical in their thinking and prepared to give up their old ideas. Yes. We all have a responsibility to look hard at what and who we are and make difficult decisions about how we think about things.

    Separately: the notion that it is natural for a woman to be feminine is, of course, hokum. If that were true every woman everywhere would find a means to fashion pink skirts and painted nails and they don’t. It is true that there is a near-universal cultural divide between the lives of men and women, but that in itself is no more meaningful than there being a near-universal cultural divide between the concepts of left and right or young and old. Similarly it is no more natural or un-natural for a mother to be parental and nurturing than it is for a man. We commonly believe these things about gender because we were not raised to think otherwise.

  125. Jane Q Public

    Egads. I’m terrified not to wear make-up and gussy myself up to meet beauty standards. Terrified, I tell you. I just do not have the guts to do it. I’ll never remove the pubes, though. Did it once, and it grew back like thorns through my skin. And, AND, I felt all slimy without my protective coating of fur to soak up the sweat.

  126. pheenobarbidoll

    Dampness in the body? That’s a little odd sounding. Help! My internal organs are DAMP!

    I’ll try most any food though, even if I suspect I won’t like it because of the way it looks or smells. Except for some things that just are not going into my mouth. Like tongue. Just, no. Or brains. Or feet.

    When I lived on the “wrong” side of town, I went to the local Albertsons. Best place to get imported Mexican food. Until the day I opened a freezer and had a sheep head staring back at me. Now, sheep head may be delicious, I don’t know (barbacoa is and that is cow head) but I’m a little put off when I open a door and something is staring back at me. Underneath the sheep shelf was an assortment of frozen pig feet, pig ears and tripe. I presume that was for menudo fixins.

    The “wrong” side of town here just happens to coincide with where all the Hispanics live. Yanno, all coincidental n shit./end sarcasm

  127. FemmeForever

    @Jezebella

    FemmeForever, this is some racist bullshit right here: “Tofu is an instrument of the dieting industry.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    Thanks for that two day long belly laugh, Jezebella. Nothing outs one as a pathetically clueless white person like throwing around the word RACIST as if it were some trivial, academic concept. The person who wrote that sentence has NO IDEA what racism is.

    @ those who would like me to have retail guilt

    Given that I am privy to the big picture of my shopping habits and to the contents of my closet and you are not, calm yourself.

    There is no guilt here as there shouldn’t be. Get over it.

    @ Amananta

    I wasn’t bragging in the least. I mentioned the dollar amount because I have never spent that much on sandals before in my life. I decided not to buy the cheap ones this time that I have to throw out and repurchase every month or two. Sneakers are NOT an appropriate shoe in 100 degree heat which I will be in very shortly. If I were to send you a picture you would feel really ridiculous for trying to accuse me of being beauty obsessed.

    You are angry at some fictional persona in your mind and not at the individual who is me.

  128. wiggles

    Pheeno: “Help! My internal organs are DAMP!”

    I think they’re supposed to be.

    On this beauty thing, I watched a doc the other day called “The Aggressives,” which is about super-butch lesbians and the gender spectrum. One of them was recruited off the street to be a fashion model. So you got to see her switch between swaggering butch and feminine ideal, which demonstrated how the concept of beauty is mostly smoke and mirrors. Nobody actually looks better when they put on blue eyeshadow, for instance, it’s just that by going to the trouble of putting on blue eyeshadow, you’re signaling your submission.

    I was also talking to somebody else the other day about how foot binding and corsets were both ways of displaying that a woman or girl was financially well-off enough that she could afford to be intentionally debilitated, making her a proper lady and therefore marriageable (and rapeable – go pester the farmhands, laddies). The richer the lady, the tighter the corset, the more frequent the trips to the fainting couch. Classism (which obviously goes hand-in-hand with racism) + helplessness = feminine beauty.

  129. kristyn

    pheenobarbidoll, I feel like I owe you an apology. It sucks when someone tries to shove a food choice down your throat when you know you won’t like it, and that’s shitty of anyone to do.

    You brought to my attention that the tofu thing has some meta-levels I hadn’t thought of before. Here goes.
    Tofu is considered a diet food, although we’ve proven it can be anything but. Women are supposed to be on diets all the time. If you are a woman and like tofu, which is supposed to be a diet food, but you are a feminist and/or don’t like dieting, you then probably feel the need to defend your food choice in liking tofu. Which is exactly what I did, although of course I can’t speak for others.

    Also, tofu is considered a woman food because it is vegetarian/not meat, and women are stereotyped as vegetarian whereas men are supposed to love meat. Thus, those who despise things that are ”woman things” despise tofu for that reason. If one is a woman, one might wish to disassociate herself from the bad associations, hence eating tofu that is prepared to resemble ”man food.” The restaurant where I get my ”buffalo wings” provides such an example — it is conveniently located and tasty, but is in essence a bunch of burlesque-type pseudo-punk-rock chicks serving food that nerdy Brooklyn wannabe-subversive hipsters can feel ‘badass’ about eating even though it’s not meat.

    Plus there is the level wherein one who does have an eating disorder often feels compelled to cover it up. ”Of course I don’t eat plain tofu, I eat mine FRIED, because naturally I am not trying to starve myself to death. Don’t be silly.” Which did not enter into the discourse here, but has been a motivation of mine in the past.

    So, in short, I am sorry for trying to talk up tofu. Although to be fair, at least when you’re talking about me, it’s not so much passive aggression as outright in-your-face aggression.

  130. pheenobarbidoll

    I’ve just tried it (unwillingly) 7 ways from sunday. I hold no notions about it being diet food, womans food, hippy food etc. I just don’t like it. The same way I don’t like lima beans, but more than I dislike pizza. What I personally get tired of is the implication that somehow it’s a character flaw of mine, or a political/gender/vegan vs meat eater stance. It’s not. It really truly down to my soul is that simple. It’s purely a taste bud thing.

    I also dislike white chocolate and dark chocolate. And anything extra added to chocolate like raspberry or vanilla. All tofu is, to me, is simply a food on the do not like list. Along with everything else I listed, which all seems to be non controversial. Frankly, it surprised me that tofu was so controversial. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of food, or all the vegetarian vs meat thing. I’m generally more concerned with making sure there is food on the table, since financially, my life is one disaster after another.

    I was also surprised to hear that abbreviating radical feminist to radfem was a source of contention. Hell, I was just happy to use fewer letters.

    Aggression doesn’t bother me. I prefer it to passive aggressive any day. That shit’s just annoying.

  131. kristyn

    Oh, I naturally did a poor job articulating my statement. In thinking about what you wrote, about how some people passively aggressively force tofu on people, I thought about why I defended tofu versus why some people might hate it.

    The entire time, I simply assumed you didn’t like it because it didn’t taste good to you. Your statement just made me examine my own motivations, wherein I discovered a whole new vein of things to think about relating food and patriarchy.

    Also, yes, having food on the table is more important than what kind of food it is. Let us just say that food stamps can be a marvelous thing, and that there is a great deal of sick satisfaction to be found in shopping at Whole Foods with government money. As long as we have to live in a … corporate-gangster-theocratic-oligarchy-etc., we may as well get some wry laughs out of it.

  132. nails

    @FemmeForever:

    “Given that I am privy to the big picture of my shopping habits and to the contents of my closet and you are not, calm yourself.

    There is no guilt here as there shouldn’t be. Get over it.”

    Doesn’t it bother you that millions of people have daily incomes that equal 1/80th of what your shoes cost? That those people starve to death when your shoe money could help them?I don’t know how someone who is privy to the big picture could say that they shouldn’t have any guilt. It is damn near impossible to live without oppressing other people around the world. Even when we are not complacent in that system we contribute to it (unless you live off the grid, but you are the internet so…). Our good intentions do not make other people less enslaved or starving or dead. Guilt is what should motivate us to improve our behavior and quit hurting others. It is a natural emotion to feel when your choices end up hurting other people.

    I don’t know if you have ever worked at a thrift store or anything, but you could witness the level of waste involved with clothing if you volunteered at a charity one. The amount of wearable clothing that people donate far surpasses the amount that can be sold at thrift stores, it goes away to wearhouses as surplus. The stores have no official inventory, making it almost impossible to prosecute people who steal from the store. Plenty of people know this and steal tons of clothes constantly, increasing the turn over of clothing even more. Unwearable clothes (dirty, stained, ripped, etc) are compressed into cubes and auctioned off to charity for about one cent a pound, and go to poor people in other countries. This is just what nice people donate, the amount that simply gets thrown away is likely to be more than that. It is completely wasteful. I know no one is perfect (I am not, certainly), but I would never immaturely tell people to “get over” the suffering I cause when I am wasteful. No decent person should, they should try to do something about it. It is a crappy thing to do, to waste money that could save a life. I try to improve myself and spend less on needless things, and give that money to people who need it. I try to point out the cost of things to the rest of the world when I can, even when it makes the unpopular. The Peter Singer essay that convinced me is worth reading:

    http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/1972—-.htm

    It convinced me. It is extremely difficult to argue against this.

  133. FemmeForever

    Nails, do you read or are you just given to bouts of long winded spewing?

    If you want to dumpster dive for food and make your own shoes out of construction paper and maxi pads, knock yourself out. I will not try to drag you to Macy’s or harangue you for not going. Me, I will go to the store and buy what I need guilt-free.

    (Sorry, kristyn. This comment is not aimed at you or anyone but nails.)

  134. pheenobarbidoll

    kristn,

    Yes food stamps can be very, very handy. Unfortunately, because my nigel is Canadian and getting his Texas residency, we can’t get them lest we risk his getting denied.

    Fried tofu does make me giggle, though. That’s like fried cauliflower or something. Most tofu eaters I know eat it to be healthy (not necessarily lose weight, just concerned about being healthier at whatever weight) so fried tofu sounds like an oxymoron to me. You’d think it would appeal to my Southern roots, because we fry the hell out of everything.

    Damn it. Now I want fried ice cream.

    And pie.

    This thread makes me want to go out with no makeup and nom on some fried foods.

  135. agasaya

    Tofu: Look for proper sources and don’t eat too much. Soy is badly grown and processed these days and the effects can be quite harmful for our endocrine systems, particularly those needing to avoid increasing estrogen levels. Health issues, like all issues under the corporate-sponsored versions of patriarchy in charge today, is about profit and control.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11603644

    http://www.endo-resolved.com/soy.html (have not checked source material here but is of interest)

    I don’t care for Mercola’s marketing ploys preying on women’s fears and health problems but he has some good info on soy effects:

    http://www.healthiertalk.com/why-tofu-wrecks-your-brain-0246

    Nails: you rock but I feel helping people to be fed and educated here at home is also important. Only the educated and empowered can make changes in the world which will last and spread.

  136. Amananta

    Ah, how quickly we backtrack:

    “Personally, I like beauty products. I buy a lot of them, and some clothes and some shoes. As a matter of fact I just spent several hundred dollars on sandals this weekend (seven pairs, some of which will be returned) because I need something comfortable and cute to wear in warm weather. I buy these products because I like color and style. Not because I want men to notice them. I’m a girlie girl and I like being so.”

    I grew up in the south Louisiana swamps and have worn sneakers in hot weather all my life. You are perfectly free to wear sandals if you wish but that’s all beside the point. I don’t see how the above quote can be construed as anything but bragging about how you spent a huge amount of money on shoes (which you seem to define as beauty products) partly out of a wish to be comfortable but more importantly, and emphasized repeatedly by yourself, because they are “cute” and you like being cute and feminine – and now you say that’s not true. And oh no, you have accused me of being angry. Oh dear, I should go pull a bag over my head and feel ridiculous now.

    I’m not saying you should feel guilty over buying shoes. But if you are going to openly discuss your shopping habits and expect widespread support and acclaim for them, I’m afraid you won’t find that here. You say you will return the ones you won’t like, well that’s up to you. You can do what you like with your own money. But I do think its important you be aware that this is a privileged lifestyle choice on your part, and that is the point of at least half of what is written here – that “beauty” is a product for sale in this society, and people like myself who can’t afford hundreds, or thousands, of dollars to spend on 7 pairs of sandals that we can take home and decide at our leisure which to keep, are by default locked out of the definition of beauty yet are made to feel bad about how we aren’t trying hard enough. Whether or not you have decided for yourself that you are buying all these beauty products to please men or just to boost your own self-confidence, you are playing the game by (literally) buying into it. Again you don’t need to “feel guilty” about this or “toe the feminist line” or some such thing – if you think that’s what this whole thread is about I’m afraid you are attacking a straw-feminist. I see more: questioning the overblown importance of “beauty”; attacking the myriad corporations that sell it to us like it’s something attainable for a dollar value and denigrating those who won’t buy in; and yes, attacking men who try to loftily inform us its all pure science that determines beauty and we just better conform as best we can or else accept that we are devalued and unwantable by any man.

    Oh ha ha yes, that would be so awesome. To be unwanted by any man. Maybe then they would all leave us the hell alone and we could go do what we want!

  137. pheenobarbidoll

    I missed that whole sandal/tennis shoe thing.

    I live on the surface of the friggin sun, aka west texas. I wear tennis shoes all the time, even when it’s 114 out. My other go to summer shoes are these awesome gel filled nike flip flops. By no means cute, just basic black and sex for the feet. I mostly wear the tennis shoes because of rocks, stickers, dirt (god the dirt) thorns, grass burrs and big ass red ants. Not to mention scorpions, brown recluse and other assorted stingey/bitey bugs.

    I don’t get how it’s too hot to wear them, they make ventilated tennis shoes for that purpose.

    And yes, men should leave us the hell alone. Except to ask if we want more pie.

  138. Comrade PhysioProf

    Soy makes men grow breasts and apparently it can destroy your liver if consumed in too much quantity.

    Holy crap! Maybe it’s the goddamn tofu that’s fucking up my eyebrows.

  139. Kiuku

    I actually will not give to charity unless I know the charity is going directly to women. I believe that, while probably not true across the board, but in general from experience that men become even more vile when things aern’t going their way. Where poverty is concerned, starvation, pain or anything to that degree men are even more vile to women. So if I am helping a man then I feel I am contributing to a woman’s rape. So unless I know positively the charity is going to only a woman..I don’t give it.

    I don’t feel guilty about poor or starving people because I know what causes it: patriarchy, and that working against the patriarchy is the same thing. I’m not a suffering servant. I go for the cause of the problem. feed a man you fed him for a day..teach a man to fish..well you get the point. You fed him for a lifetime.

    I have a theory about the economy in capitalism, in competition. I have a theory about money, which is a male invetion. The fact of the matter is, the greater degree of female suffering, the worse the strength and stability of the economy. Women will always be the economy, the real actual physical focal point of any society, naturally, because we bear and raise children. It’s so simple. Women create things. They make society. They invent. Men..don’t.

    So where I know societies that struggle and are poor are, yes, exploited, but they are poor, not because of resources, but because of the way they make women suffer. That is why, Sweden, ranked as one of the best places for women, has one of the mos tstable economies..right under..the Vatican. And why America’s economy is so unstable. If we keep going the way we are going, we’ll be no better off than Haiti.

  140. Kiuku

    and hten if you look at gender statistics, for the things which one could possibly feel guilty for, for the things which hurt other human beings. It’s staggering. Men commit the most crime. Men commit the most violent crime. Is it society or is it innate? I don’t know, but I do know this: it’s men.

  141. Mel

    Just because *some* people find wearing sneakers in 100+ degree weather doesn’t mean everyone can. I personally hate having my feet confined and sweaty, and bare feet is the best way for me to keep from overheating. I wear sandals (mostly Tevas, which are not very sexy, good for wading in rivers, and which can conveniently be thrown in the washing machine to keep them from getting stinky–unlike sneakers) nearly year-round, and sneakers or hiking boots for most types of exercise and in winter.

    Sandals are not intrinsically more expensive or more sexy than sneakers, and there’s nothing wrong with finding them more comfortable. Seriously, I get boggling at spending hundreds of dollars on sandals; I don’t get being shocked and disapproving that many people find wearing close-toed shoes in hot weather uncomfortable. Seriously?

  142. io

    I, I, I. We need a refresher on Jill’s rules for comments. Having read all 139 or so, let’s conclude: people have different tastes. In “beauty” and tofu and all things in between.

    (Aside on beauty-without-ideology: Kant struggled with this for about 600 pages. I’m convinced he got about halfway there.)

    @wendyann, way up there, when you said, “It lies in her sublimating her very self… My sister is most women. I have never been married, have always been on the lesbian side of bi and am not wealthy. But I am a whole hell of a lot happier than she is.”

    I see my fate in you — soon, soon, when my born-lucky compliance fades and I can no longer manipulate men by putting on mascara and telling them to buy me dinner.

    I play games with compliance (and subbie-guys play along) because otherwise I’m ALWAYS the one capitulating. With the games at least I can pretend it evens out a little. Most guys under 25 shave their pubes, too.

    Whoops, I, I again. Here we go: I hope I won’t hate men too much by age 40. I half hate-half pity them now, despite seeing the pure wonderful human part of some of them under the patriarchal stain.

  143. AileenWuornos

    “Pretty feminists are like President Barbie – the new “feminist” Barbie which no matter where she reaches, her waist does not grow beyond .5 inches.”

    After searching the grey matter for a particularly witty and apt comment, one noticed that it was already done for her. I wish other womyn my age would realise this.

  144. nails

    Kiuku-”I don’t feel guilty about poor or starving people because I know what causes it: patriarchy, and that working against the patriarchy is the same thing. ”

    Yeah exactly the same, except one course of action leads to someone dying of starvation or preventable disease, while the other does not. Your post is riddled with false dichotomy. You can oppose patriarchy AND help starving people. You can help people who need food AND work towards rape prevention. Your reasoning doesn’t allow for these possibilities. The idea that men dying of starvation and disease are equal with the patriarchy is friggin laughable as well. People in that situation are on the recieving end of it in a fatal way.

    I wish I could make people who say stuff like this say it directly to the people who are dying for no good reason. “see I am an activist at home. That’s actually better than feeding you.” “Yeah sure does suck that you are a slave, but my shoes are just so darn cool.” “If you eat you might do something bad later, so its better to just let you die.” “It is that guy’s fault you are in such bad shape, not mine. I won’t give you medical care until the unlikely event that he decides to fix everything”, etc. Think about telling this to someone who lives it. I would be ashamed to even attempt it.

    Saying you won’t help unless it goes directly to women grosses me out. If a dude was drowning in front of you, and you could easily save him, would you let him die because is capable of rape? When do the children migrate into man territory anyway? What about gay men? What about women who would feed men when they got food?

    “and hten if you look at gender statistics, for the things which one could possibly feel guilty for, for the things which hurt other human beings. It’s staggering. Men commit the most crime. Men commit the most violent crime. Is it society or is it innate? I don’t know, but I do know this: it’s men.”

    It is almost like you are pointing at men and going “But, but, but, they started it!!!!” as if it matters. You can condemn the behavior of others while also trying to improve your own. Other people being worse than you doesn’t make your actions acceptable or defendable. As far as the “it’s men” thing, when it comes to this issue it is most people in developed countries. It is you and me and everyone else buying their frickin ipads and designer jeans and movies and other useless crap. It is making a concious choice to spend possibly life saving funds on crap that no one needs at all. I don’t care what anyone else is doing, and neither should you. You are most able to do something about your own behavior.

  145. Bonnie

    Jezebella, waaay up thar:

    Speaking of which, please tell me: what is this utopian workplace where women can earn enough money to live on without making one single concession to the practice of femininity? I’m curious.

    Theater technician at a very high-end non-union Las Vegas show. Black jeans, black T-shirts, black sneaks and socks. I was a voice on a headset and a finger on a button. +$27/hour, higher for “leads,” much higher for dept. heads and assistants. At least one company has at least 500 of those gigs.

  146. shopstewardess

    Kiuku and nails, you are both right and both wrong. But you are only wrong for the same reason we are all wrong.

    There is nowhere on the planet where a woman can live out her life away from the patriarchy. That means that our lives are spent in territory occupied by a wartime enemy, with which we are forced to collaborate in order to survive. We can to some extent choose the specifics of our collaboration, but can’t escape collaboration entirely.

    Environmentalism raises similar issues: we can to some extent choose the extent to which, and the way in which, we collaborate in the destruction of the current phase of Earth’s environment, but can’t completely escape it.

    The only answer I have found on both counts is to do the best that I can sustain over my lifetime, and try to be kind to others who are doing the same, whatever form that takes. I don’t necessarily succeed on either, but every time I can find the energy I try again.

  147. Miriam

    There is something that really frustrates me about these discussions, which I have been trying to articulate in my mind as I read. It is entirely predictable that, after a post like this, everyone (or most everyone) feels the need to discuss all of their personal beauty practices (or lack thereof) and justify them. What frustrates me is this immediate turn to the individual level. Of course I understand the point that examining individual choices (especially those involving large amounts of money, time, or resources) can and should be a feminist exercise.

    But really, at bottom, men don’t think women are human regardless of whether we conform to “beauty” standards, work in corporations, work from home, eat or don’t eat, whatever. Men will beat or rape any woman regardless of these “personal” choices. This is why we don’t really have personal choices, because we are not really human agents in their eyes. So, while I get the point of this examination of choices (which of course is different under different circumstances, and so forth), I wish we could focus on the root of the problem instead of one symptom of it. I wish we could try to figure out how to change reality so women could be human, and end violence against them, and I don’t too much care what we wear while we are trying to figure this out.

  148. drive by random poster

    @nails. t is almost like you are pointing at men and going “But, but, but, they started it!!!!” as if it matters.

    Perhaps it’s only because this is at the bottom of the thread and no one else has come along yet, but that was the most disturbing comment in this thread for me.

    All she said was that she preferred to give her money to women — because men always cause women to suffer more than themselves during periods of scarcity — but you reacted quite negatively to that idea almost as if men would be denied an entitlement.

    Please set aside any defensiveness my comment may inadvertently arouse and spend some quality time sincerely asking yourself if you get equally angry at other types of victims when they identify the cause of their suffering. For what other types of crimes do you routinely nullify the behavior of the perpetrator? For what other groups in need do you ignore realistic subsets of inequality?

    The brainwashing, it is everywhere.

  149. Jezebella

    Random, that comment hit me wrong, too. Any woman is fully entitled to donate her time,energy, and money to whatever cause she sees fit. Or not. So if someone only donates to causes that help women, that’s absolutely her right. Men help each other to the exclusion of women all the damned time. No reason women can’t do the same.

  150. nails

    @drive by-I am upset because I am discussing people who are fucking starving to death. Does you not see how people who aren’t dying of starvation are enormously privileged over them? You are defending someones privilege to relieve that suffering based on their whims, as if any of us have the ‘right’ to kill anyone with our indifference.

    I see horrible illness/disfigurement/death from poverty in america on a regular basis. It is shameful that anyone dies that way, it is real evidence of our apathy as a society. It is a horrible thing to see, and I can’t bring myself to think about the persons sex when I see this kind of shit unfolding. It is horrifying to the maximum degree, who it happens to cannot affect that reality. No one deserves the things I have seen as a result of poverty, not even rapists. It is especially horrible to accept people dying that way when there is enough to go around for everyone. I can’t see how this treatment could be seen as acceptable for ANY PERSON, because the level of HUMAN SUFFERING involved is completely fucking unacceptable. Who the hell would be thinking about such distinctions when the situation is so dire?

  151. TwissB

    Setting aside the tofu lapses, Jill’s take-down of the scummy Dove ad seems to have let loose a torrent of beauty critiquing the intensity of which has not been seen since the great outpouring, in her last prolonged absence, of opinion on degrees of compliance with the most questionable sexual demands of one’s Nigel or Nigella. Hair of one kind or another seemed to play a key role in both.

  152. mearl

    Side note: as far as I understand it, ripping out all your pubes is actually COUNTER-hygienic, as the hair that grows there (like eyelashes, ear and nose hair) is a means of protecting the area and catching dirt & bacteria before it goes up your vag and wreaks havoc in your reproductive business. Who came up with this idea that being hairless is hygienic? Let me guess: the same bunch of arseholes who told women that douching with Lysol was good for our personal hygiene.

    IBTP.

  153. drive by random poster

    @Nails. It is entirely possible that I am mistaken, but unfortunately I am under the impression that when circumstances are dire, men and women do not suffer “equally”. A greater number of women and girls appear to suffer a greater quantity of harm.

    Again, you appear to disregard my only point, and I’m only asking you to consider your own motivations.

    If alleviating suffering is the goal, then it seems reasonable to allocate available resources according to the amount of suffering.

  154. katrina

    FemmeForever, the Shapely Prose people illustrate very nicely why it’s such a shame to let perfectly nice food such as tofu get categorised as “diet food”.

    http://kateharding.net/2009/10/23/friday-fluff-take-back-the-diet-food/

  155. Amananta

    Nails: Please read this.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123202099

  156. Alexa

    “And yes, men should leave us the hell alone. Except to ask if we want more pie.”

    haha my little laugh of the thread. Reading this wee blog from Texas has bought feminism back. How does a man hating radfem decide on not being feminist?
    Not on this blog but on another British one where radfems are generally attacked by mods, and trolls seen as providing reasonable grounds for discussion. There is also a tone of ironic hatred and resentment amongst British feminists, undoubtedly seeped in from british ironic edge culture. Any contribution at my college womens committee – I talked about assault on campus for e.g, was met with malice. I got a particularly vindictive booting off the committee, and from experiencing vitriol from edgy feminists who hate the word patriarchy – I decided to wash my hands off feminism. I met less resentment as exists within the british feminism – which is observational and passive, if not talking about rice workers in Africa – when I went out with the girls and slapped on some lipstick.
    What is it with the infighting that makes feminism just as pleasant to ignore as sexism? We need a more comfortable movement and less of a culture based on herd mentality for feminism to actually work. Someone upstream mentioned the second wave just had a unity we don’t have. Who wrote the rules where we had to rage with each other about everything from tofu to weather applicable sandals?
    P.s not aimed at you guys actually, this blog is nice for it’s relative sense of community and amazing, for it’s acknowledgement of the p.
    Just my frustration that British feminism doesn’t have this – we have this edge to being anti- feminist instead.

    If everyones Thank god there’s less of that overseas!

  157. Sarah

    Aside from the whole “can feminists be pretty” debate, this quote really made me scratch my head:

    “yeah, that’s right, successful women ‘don’t have to be men.’ Women can be empowerfulized and still do things that are ‘natural’ for women to do.

    ‘It’s okay to have a family’ she insisted. ‘It’s okay to be pretty.’”

    So…by that logic, it isn’t “natural” for men to have families? Or to look good?

  158. random_anomaly

    Someone:

    “is there something we can work with that doesn’t have to fall into the camp of binary opposition of “does she or doesn’t she?”

    Personally I try to combine expected behaviours with unexpected ones in the hope of confusing the hell out of the the patriarchy. I know it’s not much, but sometimes it makes people think, or change their opinions on what they consider “beautiful”, and it can be quite interesting as a social experiment.
    For example, my best friend and I wear makeup (although very non-conventionally) but have all of our natural body hair; I shave part of my head and grow the other part long, wear comfortable clothes and shoes most of the time, and sometimes deliberately bind my chest to appear more androgynous.

    It may not do much in the grand scheme of things, but sure makes for some interesting conversations at the pub while we think up better ways to overthrow the patriarchy.

  159. The Marriage Of A Dead Dog SING!

    Full disclosure: I’m a white, mid-20′s, middle class guy. I’ve read your guidelines and hopefully comply with all but 1. Admittedly it’s the reading of 19 radical feminist texts bit, possibly the most important, but I hope to make it by extra credit.

    I’m not taking issue with the post. In as much as I can, I agree. It’s the comments that annoy me. Mostly the ones that relegate me to a penis that just wants to fuck everything. Hirsuteness is a bit like a third nipple; momentarily off putting because it’s not the norm, but ultimately irrelevant in a relationship.

    I just wanted to add in a bit about guys shaving. It fits many of the criteria brought up by the comments. It’s uncomfortable (ingrown hairs/razor burn ON YOUR FACE!), it’s expensive (we use razors daily, not weekly), it’s time consuming (15-20 minutes a day) and being clean shaven is entirely a passing fashion trend (look at Kaiser Wilhelm, EPIC facial hair!).

    In my relatively brief years of employment I’ve been given repeated verbal (and a few written) warnings about my facial hair. I’ve actually been threatened with losing my job if I don’t comply with The Patriarchy’s view of what is socially acceptable.

    I have no idea how I became a victim of The Man, because to all intents and purposes I AM THE FUCKING MAN! But I guess that’s another reason to add to the list of destroying The Patriarchy. It doesn’t even protect the people it’s supposed to protect.

  160. Jill

    Whenever a comment begins with “I am a middle-20′s white guy” it is certain to contain incredibly enlightening insights into the male point of view.

    I kid, I kid! There are no incredibly enlightening insights into the male point of view. The male point of view is in fact the default point of view. Thus are we already completely intimate with it. Even as we struggle to end our own oppression we take the time to grasp the enormity of the hardships men endure. How well we understand the dreadful inconvenience thrust upon you by facial hair fashion trends. Our hearts bleed, O 20-something White Dude.

    I have not deleted your comment, Marriage, not because you have demonstrated that you are qualified to post here, but because it is hilarious. Do you seriously propose that a class of people who are genuinely oppressed by your class give a rat’s ass about your shaving habits? Priceless.

  161. Deb

    Late reply here, been back-reading. I feel like I should tell you that it is your blog which has made me realise that ‘doing femininity’ is, for me, definitely a result of internalised oppression. I want to thank you for making the scales drop from my eyes.

  162. Deb

    To elaborate a bit (and this will not come as any revelation to seasoned radfems): it has finally hit home that femininity is, in general, not and cannot be an empowefulised choice. Women do femininity because they are taught that they are repulsive creatures if they do not. I have certainly internalised the culture’s messages as to my value lying in my attractiveness and know for myself that, but for patriarchy, I would never bother with the efforts demanded by femininity performance. Most days I don’t, but when I am socialising, I feel that I must conform with beauty standards vis-a-vis make up and dress. This blog has led me to question that.

  163. Twisty

    This blog has led me to question that.

    Hallelujah!

  164. ptittle

    Make-up is to make you look younger.
    Make-up is to make you look sexually attractive.
    Therein lies the problem: it endorses the view that young = sexy.

    Ditto shaving (and in this case ‘young’ means ‘prepubescent’).

    So women who wear make-up and shave are endorsing (nay, encouraging) a culture in which girls are sexual(ly attractive and available). Prepubescent girls.

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