The endless shielding of femininity from criticism is getting really boring and it’s obvious that the people who keep waxing lyrical about being ~badass feminine feminists are getting desperate to maintain their delusions of idiotic fake bullshit “empowerment.” There’s an ongoing stream of posts stating that wearing makeup, shaving your legs, and liking pink dresses doesn’t mean you aren’t a true feminist. That you can be both feminine and a strong, smart, or successful woman. That being a traditionally feminine woman doesn’t mean you don’t deserve respect.
Now, all of these things are true. If you’re into being feminine, good for you, do what you want. But why do you need reassurance, in feminist spaces of all places, that it’s okay to be feminine? When you turn on the television, there are countless ads telling you that the cosmetics you use make you look young and pretty. When you watch movies and tv shows, you see stories that consistently drive home the idea that for women, feminine beauty is the key to success (and success is often measured by the ability to land a man). When you went to school, you learned that good girls are quiet, polite, well-mannered, and undemanding. While growing up and interacting with peers, you learned that partaking in beauty and fashion rituals is a rite of passage into womanhood. All around you, everywhere you go, all kinds of people talk about how nasty girls are when they don’t shave, how “manly” unfeminine women are, how it’s such a “turn-off” when women speak and act in ways that are associated with and more acceptable for men.
The support and promotion of femininity is a backlash against a totally preconceived set of social beliefs and attitudes that doesn’t exist. Gender non-conforming women do not dominate the feminist movement nor the world at large, they are not widely praised and rewarded for their nonconformity, and their voices and experiences are routinely ignored. There is no similar amount of support for unfeminine girls and women, especially butch lesbians, who go through their lives being told that “real women” are thin, attractive, feminine, and pleasing to men. In fact femininity is so often conflated with womanhood that gender non-conforming women are frequently accused of misogyny (or even of being men!) for rejecting femininity and beauty standards.
Not all feel-good, encouraging messages need to be given the same amount of emphasis and importance. Gender-conforming women don’t need to be coddled and consoled and reassured that they’re still good, acceptable women/feminists because everyone already tells them that everywhere, all the time! Feminism needs to start supporting gender non-conforming girls and women and spreading the message that NOT being feminine doesn’t make you ugly or disgusting or less of a woman.
Use your brain. Do an experiment. Stop shaving, wearing makeup, buying expensive/unnecessary accessories, wearing uncomfortable clothes/shoes, smiling when you’re not really pleased, hiding what you really think, and being flirtatious or accommodating or in any other way appealing to men for a period of time. Sounds terrible right? That’s because you know that people–especially men–perceive and treat you differently when you don’t do what they want/expect you to do.
On a last note, this “weaponised femininity” bullshit needs to be thrown in the trash where it belongs. Your gender conformity does not give you the power to take down a patriarchal system that enforces gender and punishes nonconformity. You can stop assuaging men’s fears about women rejecting their assigned gender with your promises to conform to it and assuring yourself that you’re not one of those ugly, stern, uptight, “masculine” feminists. Stop acting as if you’re being victimised by hordes of gender non-conforming women just because someone said that your lipstick and high heels aren’t intimidating to men. Stop being an idiot.