It separates the men from the sex class. It’s the cornerstone of the megatheocorporatocratic oppression of women. It’s a global humanitarian crisis.
Short of wearing a clown suit and speaking through a mechanized voicebox, I can’t think of how one could avoid being perceived as performing either masculinity or femininity. The meaning of your performance is imposed by the audience.
This precise quandary has long plagued spinster aunts the world over. We do not advocate clown suits, however; polyester satin makes us perspire, and the bright colors seem to attract bees. Our solution? Flowing robes. Too biblical for ya? Well, then, grey sweats and Tom’s shoes for everyone! Who’s with me?
Not to say that all performances are equally feminist, or that personal performance doesn’t matter at all. Just, doesn’t it make more sense to focus activism on institutional change and resource reallocation?
If Ashley is suggesting that that the onus is on us (the onus is on-us, the onus is on-us) to change the way women are perceived, I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I advocate personal repudiation of femininity on as broad a spectrum as possible. The less femininity there is to perceive, the better for all women everywhere.
But if I read it wrong, and Ashley is actually saying “enough with this anti-femininityism, already; there are more important feminist matters afoot,” I reply:
Fear not, Ashley, for feminist rage is not a finite substance. There’s enough for all the doomed rebellions.
In fact, it makes sense to challenge patriarchy at every level. If I haven’t made that clear by now I’m a crapulent failure as an Internet feminist. Harshin’ on femininity is just one aspect of the fight. At the annual Obstreperal Awards on Savage Death Island, they pin silver medals on everyone who focuses activism on institutional change and resource reallocation (you should come next year; the afterparties are awesome).
But they enjoin feminists to think small as well, because knocking it off already with the feminine wiles and beauty treatments and self-enstupefication are acts of resistance that anyone can do on her own, in the privacy of her own boudoir, boat, or den. It’s simple to do, and unlike big, slow institutional changes that take decades, ditching femininity can have an immediate impact. The anti-femininityite merely quits shaving her pits, or burns her 5″ platforms or whatever, and presto! Newly liberated from another shackle, she gets to snarl a gratifying “fuck you, Establishment!” at the Establishment, and to feel a little bit more like an actual sovereign entity.
But isn’t it hard? Blamer Claire K, who, in her preamble to an inspirational tale that she accurately describes as a “long anecdote about my own personal body hair. Really.”, has this to say to those who aren’t too sure about going native.
Many of the comments on [the most recent anti-femininity] thread seem to be about how difficult it is to stop performing femininity and how not everyone will be able to do it, as if the commentators are worried some radical feminists have it easy and need to be reminded of how hard it is for other people. I think, though, that everyone is already too aware that revolution is hard, and that we will get farther if we encourage each other instead of holding each other back by responding to every incitement to even the slightest revolutionary act with criticism of the inciter for not thinking of how hard it is, how some women won’t be able to do this, and so on.
She goes on to reveal the liberating effects she experienced by giving one little femininity dealio the heave-ho.
Awesomely, everyone she knows will get hit with some anti-femininity fallout, too. Women who resist are so rare, an anti-femininityist action is unlikely go unnoticed (or in some cases, unpunished) for long. Perhaps you’ll tolerate another personal anecdote, this time on the subject of the repercussions of resistance:
A pal of mine from the cancer trenches just had a double mastectomy. After agonizing about it for months, she decided not to undergo the painful and oppressor-appeasing “reconstruction” surgery.* She’s no radical feminist, either, she’s a straight, white, Republican country clubber, and she really liked having boobs. But ultimately she determined that she’d be sending the wrong message to her daughters if she capitulated to the patriarchal boobal mandate by having plastic funbags stapled to her chest. Her act of resistance cannot fail to ripple (ha ha, it rhymes with “nipple”!). Not just with her kids, but with her whole WASPy social circle. I pinned a gold medal on her.
So do you get kicked off the Island if you perform femininity? Dang, whaddya take me for, some kinda radical feminist? That would be messed up. I’m a spinster aunt, goddammit, and we fucking love everybody. I merely urge women to engage in the intellectual exercise of examining femininity: how much of the gottadoo** is really gotta, and how much is actually wanna. The femininity-bagging suggestion is not, as this blamer surmised, that women endanger the lives of their sick children by appearing so unfeminine that their boss fires them and they lose their health insurance.*** The suggestion is that women pause in their daily sashay through Mansworld to evaluate their feminine personae. You know, really give it the old analytical eye. Which appeasements really are literally necessary for literal survival, and which are maybe just gratuitous expressions of internalized misogyny? The idea is to ditch as much of it as is possible without getting anyone killed. That this might trespass a bit on your personal comfort is sort of the point. No pain, no gain. The revolution begins at home. Etc.
* Why do I put “reconstruction” in quotation marks? Because this surgery doesn’t actually re-construct a breast at all; the resulting appurtenance contains no breast tissue, cannot nurse a baby, and is in fact actually just a prop designed to alleviate societal anxiety over women who might not otherwise present as sufficiently sexual. To those who have had reconstructive surgery, I do not vilify you. À votre santé!
** Gottadoo: Savage Death Islandish for femininity performed under the heading “I gotta do what I gotta do to survive.”
*** Irish Up, we are so sorry for your daughter’s illness. As a sicko myself, I know how it fucking sucks.