Okay. So, I read that “disease of perfection” thing. And what came to my mind was “Where I’m from, we call that system of guilt and shame and silence ‘kiriarchy’.”

I think that’s what bothered me about the post, actually. Because while the author recognizes that everyone is hurt by the requirement to look like everything’s Perfect, he doesn’t acknowledge the why of it, or that the definition of “perfect” is systemic, a hierarchical system that says:

“Sex is bad and gross (unless it het, vanilla, usually procreative, and done within the confines of a monogamous marriage)”

“GOOD women are malleable, selfless, covered from neck to knees, desirable but not desirous, are white, are decorative, are pastel, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, do have vaginas they were born with, are mothers, don’t swear, are thin, are mild-mannered, have big tits, but not too-big tits, act like they don’t get a period, sexually-available (to the right – cis, het, white – men) but not actually sexual in-and-of-themselves, are never hungry, are nurturing, are infantalizable, are background-workers-asking-nothing-in-return. And everyone else deserves harassment, torture and death”

“GOOD men are wealthy, powerful, intimidating, physically fit, tall, born with (really big) penises, don’t masturbate (‘cause they don’t need to), get laid all the time, aren’t one of those damn faggots, don’t have to pay for it, are white, are able-bodied, never want for employment, are good at sports, [EDIT: I’d go on, but I totally don’t know the memes of this one as well as I do the ones for chicks /EDIT]. And everyone else deserves harassment, torture, and death.”

When you live in a culture that tells you that “Perfect = X” and that you’ll be rewarded more the closer you get to attaining it, and that ALSO tells you that the punishment for not achieving “Perfect” is harassment, torture, and death. And, oh, yeah, that doesn’t tell you that if you do get close to Perfect, you’ll have ulcers and nervous breakdowns and, for example, still get the harassment (except now you’re supposed to take it as a compliment ‘cause you’re so pretty).

When your options are toxic-cake or social/literal death, anyone with half an ounce of survival instincts is going to try for the cake because, hey, maybe you’ll be magically immune (and, anyway, most of us don’t click to the fact that it’s toxic until we’ve been eating it for a decade or two or even three already).

So, yeah.

I recognize that individuals who stop trying for the cake are definitely helping – because they are living an alternative to the toxic-cake-diet.
But I think that we need to know (and proclaim) that the toxic-cake-diet is a system. That:
your toxic-cake-diet
my toxic-cake-diet
the toxic-cake-diet of the urban-aboriginal executive chick who’s terrified of being “too Indian” to be taken seriously in her mostly-white job designation AND terrified of being labelled an apple at the same time
the toxic-cake-diet of the fat/socially-inept/geeky dude who ups the sexism and homophobia he displays so that the dudes higher up the dudely food-chain will (in theory) accept him as one-of-the-guys
the toxic-cake-diet of out-gay misogynist who thinks his fem brothers are to blame for homophobia
the toxic-cake-diet of the c-dude who hates himself because he keeps meeting t-chicks who are so gorgeous and he’s afraid that makes him a fag[1]
the toxic-cake-diet of the het, cis, soccer mom who wishes she had time to herself to do her own projects, but is convinced that it would be Too Selfish to carve that time out for herself
the toxic-cake-diet of the queer kid who’s been kicked out of hir family-of-origin and is wondering if, maybe, zi deserved it
the toxic-cake-diet of the light-skinned Desi girl whose relatives all tell her she’s So Pretty because of her skin
the toxic-cake-diet of the incest survivor who can’t shake the feeling that what she’s FOR is sex
the toxic-cake-diet of the het guy who doesn’t understand how to be a hands-on-dad or an affectionate husband because his definition of Real Man boils down to Don Draper
the toxic-cake-diet of the student who chooses Science over Liberal Arts because her parents want their daughter to be marriageable
the toxic-cake-diet of the abuse-victim who thinks zi deserves it because zi’s too “weak” to have the guts to leave
the toxic-cake-diet of the parents who wish their daughter would stop trying to do this “actress thing” because real success (qua actor) s being a Hollywood Movie Star and anything else doesn’t qualify, and they just want their little girl to be safe and have a stable income
the toxic-cake-diet of the t-guy who worries that being gay means he’s really a woman who’s Betraying The Sisterhood
the toxic-cake-diet of the black chick who can’t bear the thought of letting her hair grow naturally
the toxic-cake-diet of the guy who thinks wanting to try prostate-centric sex makes him less of a man
The toxic-cake-diet of the dyke who thinks being a sadist makes her a Bad Lesbian
the toxic-cake-diet of the south-asian immigrant who is desperate to Keep Up With The Jones AND The Nguyens
the toxic-cake-diet of the trans woman who can’t even put words around what she is because trying to be a man still looks like the path of self-preservation and she can’t think about That yet
the toxic-cake-diet of the woman who wonders if being poly means she has to sleep with anybody who wants her, whether she wants them or not
the toxic-cake-diet of the person who thinks being a kinky submissive bottom makes her a Bad Feminist or makes him Not A Real Man
the toxic-cake-diet of the dark-skinned girl who gets propositioned for sex at school but whose lighter-skinned friends get asked out to the dance or get steady boyfriends, and who assumes its her fault for “looking slutty”
the toxic-cake-diet of the woman who thinks she won’t really qualify until she’s had bottom surgery
the toxic-cake-diet of the feminist chick who can’t see a way to be feminine and (hetero?)sexual AND to dismantle the Patriarchy, so she blames the patriarchy on the actively-sexual gals and the obviously fem(me)inine gals and ostracizes them as a matter of political course
the toxic-cake-diet of the man who can’t tell his spouse that he’s lost his job
the toxic-cake-diet of the parents who steer their sons away from “girl toys” for fear of what will happen to them on the playground if it becomes clear that they’d rather use the easy-bake oven than the toy barbicue
the toxic-cake-diet of the working class femme of colour who’s getting hit on all sides by be whiter, be richer, be university-educated, be more androgynous from the mainstream that she knows not to trust but that includes her family, but also from the queer culture where she might have hoped to be able to be her whole self[3]
the toxic-cake-diet of the chick who thinks anyone who asks her out must have a “fat fetish” (or be a “tranny chaser” or be a “crip hound”) because no-one could possibly want *her* unless they were fetishizing a characteristic of her body that Everyone (or Everyone Normal) thinks is gross and undesirable
the toxic-cake-diet of the gal who thinks she must be a total nympho because she has sexual fantasies at all

… That everyone’s toxic-cake-diets are the same goddamn fucking cake that we’ve all been force-fed from the cradle.

And I think it’s important to recognize that it’s all the same fucking cake because, once we GET that it’s all the same fucking cake, we can start recognizing that it’s not just us who have been eating this stuff all our lives. That our pain is shared, and that ALSO ours is not the only kind of pain out there.
Which means we can find each other and help each other make solidarity pie and body-positive brownies and gender-expanded éclairs, and a whole bakery full of food that is so, so, SO MUCH BETTER than the toxic SHIT we’ve been eating up ‘til now.

Anyway. That’s my rant.

- Amazon.

[1] Okay. I feel kind of weird putting this one here, just because the guys who rape and murder (see above re: Punishment = harassment, torture and death) trans women are often those guys. So. Yeah. Not a shitload of sympathy coming from this quarter on that one.

[2] Although, granted, that’s the case for a number of these entries.

[3] Or maybe I’m being *tremendously* naïve on that one…
Custardfairy posted some Johnny Weir quotations that I think bear repeating:

"He talked about how well his parents had raised him, what a strong sense of self they'd left him with. He didn't ask for an apology — just suggested it would be nice if people thought about what they were saying, and how it might land on kids who didn't luck into parents like his. He wants this to be a teachable moment, because "out of ugly, I think the most important thing to do in life is to make something beautiful."


“Even my gender has been questioned. I want that to be public because I don’t want 50 years from now more young boys and girls to have to go through this sort of thing and to have their whole life basically questioned for no reason other than to make a joke and to make people watch their television program,” he said. He summed up his message — ”I hope more kids can grow up the same way that I did and more kids can feel the freedom that I feel to be themselves and to express themselves” — and his belief that the concepts of masculinity and femininity are old-fashioned. “There’s a whole generation of people that aren’t defined by their sex or their race or by who they like to sleep with. I think as a person you know what your values are and what you believe in, and I think that’s the most important thing.”
Via Custardfairy:
Contouring and Highlighting.

Because boys can be fem, too, and this one has mad makeup tips. :-D

It's Femme Tea Party Day in Ottawa (Raw Sugar, 1pm, for those who self-identify as femme and want in on the fun) and, handily enough, Prosewitch just linked me to a nifty article, which links to another not-nearly-so-nifty-but-still-relevant article, both of which I shall now link to here:

From Sugar Butch
On Femme Invisibility

I especially like this:
One of the bottom-line issues about femme in/visibility, for me, is that it is a form of gender discrimination. When someone refuses to recognize a femme as queer, that person is saying, straight women are feminine, dykes are not, therefore your gender presentation trumps anything that might come out of your mouth about how you identify or who you are, and I am more right than you are about your identity. The sex-gender assumption is too strong and too fundamental for many people to be allowed to be overridden.

I think Julia Serano talks about this, from a slightly different angle, in Whipping Girl.


From "Can I Help You, Sir?"
Where Are You?

And Two More.

One from Alpha Femme:
Femme (In)Visibility.


One more from Sugar Butch:
Further Thoughts on Privilege and Gender.

- Amazon. :-)
Venus Envy Presents

The Queer Femme Porn Tour

Featuring Nicky Click, Meliza Banales, Megan Butcher, and Luna Allison!

8:30pm -- $10 or PWYC

See You There! :-D

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, with that in mind, I need to sort out what I'm going to wear. I mean, I'd *like* to wear my tafetta skirt and my red, asymetrical top, but it's a tad chilly out for my sling-backs.

Even still. I'll see if I can figure something out. ;-)

Off to have a bubble bath and sort out just how high femme I'm going to get for this glorious evening. :-D

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! :-D

- Amazon. :-)
Because, and in honour, of the femme-inini-tea party held yesterday at Raw Sugar (the first of many monthly such gatherings -- next one being on my birthday!) I present a list of links on Femme, Femme-ininity and Femme Power.

First, from Leah Lakshmi, because she is Made of Awesome:
The Femme Sharks Manifesto. (Posted at The Femme Show).
Related link: Leah Lakshmi's LJ, specifically a post about What Makes Abusers Change. Not related to femme, but definitely worth reading.

Second, Bookslut offers an entry on reading (books) about femme:
Femmes of Power AND The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues.
Paraphrasing: Beauty is an act that many of these women perform, just one of many acts and gifts that make them alluring, irresistible, powerful, poignant.
Related Link: Visible: A Femmethology.

Third, from Musings from an Amused Muse:
Femme Manifesto.

Fourth: Femmecast! -- A queer-femme online podcast program. Go listen.

Fifth: The Femme's Guide to Absolutely Everything -- [A] sex-positive femme queer collaborative blog meant to be a fun, enjoyable, educational, and sometimes snarky look at femmeininity and femme culture. We aim to create a resource for the online femme community, where femmes can gain helpful information about navigating in this world as a femme, learn about the way others view their femme identity, and come to a greater understanding of their own femme identity. (From the website).

Sixth: The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Life
Why Queer Fat Femme?
I believe in the power of community to bring strength to marginalized identity. I believe in giving power to that identity. I believe claiming what has kept you down in the past as your own is part of the journey to loving yourself and making your own path.
(From the website).

Seventh: The Fierce Femmes LJ Community.

Eighth: Femmes Fight Back -- a travelling, interactive installation made to honor all feminine resistance, focusing on queer folks and agitators for liberation and justice across the board. (From the website).


Two Books that Changed My Life:
Brazen Femme
Whipping Girl

- Amazon.
amazon_syren: (Fem(me)inist Icon)
( Sep. 28th, 2009 02:30 pm)
Just ganked this off of facebook. Ottawa Femmes, take note!

Femme Tea Party
Come brew some "femme communi-tea" with us!
Location:Raw Sugar Café
Time:1:00PM Saturday, October 3rd

I am so stoked.

Femme Tea Party and then Reyl's birthday/housewarming (must make chocolate-peanut-butter cookies... Mwahahahaha...)

I think this calls for my velvet cloche hat and some really spiffy shoes. :-D

In completely unrelated news: I just talked to my investor about selling off all of my investments. Given that I wanna be in Libarian School this time next year, I figure I'm (slightly) better off going the High Interest Savings Account route in terms of trying to get my money to make extra money for me.

With that in mind:

How do ING high-interest savings acounts work?

How do you put your money into them?

Help me, I am confused and very new at this.

<*makes big, lamby eyes at the internets and looks hopeful*>
So, if you picked up the early-August edition of Capital Xtra, you probably read Ivan E. Coyote's piece "A Butch Roadmap". It is awesome. I cut it out and want to send it to my girlfriend. (Though I will more likely just link it to her. ;-)

But there is a follow-up piece, so to speak, posted on the Xtra website now. Same author. It's called "Hats Off to Beautiful Femmes".

And I thought I link to it here. :-)
So last night was, by and large, awesome.

I wouldn't say that the performances were polarized between "The beauty myth is evil, therefore if you play with overtly feminine/sexual body presentation you are servicing the patriarchy and are a total dupe" and "Sex positive! Go porn! Woohoo!" (Guess which side of that debate I was on. ;-) but the performances did tend to fall into one of those two categories.
Not all of them. There was a short film that focused on roundness and female bodies, and one gal read a totally awesome poem about how she felt about her ex-boyfriend's now-ex-girlfriend -- I plugged VoV and I REALLY hope she comes out to our next show! -- but *most* of them were done along those lines. Which was interesting.

I mean, it's no surprise that young women feel ambivalent about their sexuality, their sexual agency, their femininity.
I've ranted on this subject numerous times before, but really.

Grow a gal up in a culture that says "be sexually tittilating and sexually available, 'cause that's where your value in the eyes of The Man comes from" AND "be virginal because sluts deserve to die[1]" AND "be sexually available to NONE or to ALL because anything in between implies you have some sort of desire of your own, and we all know *that's* not true"... and of course you're going to get gals wondering how the hell to reconcile their wanting to be desired/desireable (titilating for men and, as such, playing up to The Patriarchy) with their desire to only fuck who THEY want to fuck, not all-comers and NOT nobody (agency = not being the compliant little fuck-bunny The Patriarchy wants you to be).

Grow a gal up in a culture that says "feminine is how you're Supposed to Be, just naturally" AND "femininity is a constructed falacy meant to dupe men into thinking you're beautiful" AND "feminity is defined in a specific way and you'll be judged on how well you conform to that norm" AND "we totally don't take femininity/feminine!people seriously" AND "femininity/feminine!wiles are women's only source of power"... and of course you're going to get gals wondering how the hell to reconcile their desire to manifest their femininity (or, for that matter, their masculinity) with how their culture treats them for being (and/or not being) feminine.


So it's no surprise that this is weighing on a lot of young[2] (and not so young) minds.

Some of it made me grit my teeth. The satyrical piece by a gal named Jen, in particular, pisses me right the hell off.
See, it was inspired by Ariel Levy's Female Chauvenist Pigs which, once upon a time, I loved to death even though it made me cry and feel just totally futile.

Which brings us to: Rant Number One! )

And that's my rant on *that* subject.

More rants to follow! Woohoo! :-D

[1] No, really. Watch any horror movie. Or attend to stupid tropes like "she shouldn't have gotten into the car". Jaknow?
[2] I'm surprised some of them were able to get into the bar. Seriously. They are *babies*. It boggles the mind. (When did I get old???)
[3] Cosmo? Anyone? Anyone?
Women At Risk - A New York Times article on rampant misogyny and how we don't freak out nearly as much when someone slaughters a bunch of women as we should, perhaps because as a culture, we view violence against women as normal and to be expected.

Fascist America: Are We There Yet? -- A more than slightly chilling article on political trends south of the border.

Related link: Pandagon discusses the Orcinus article.

Lady Gaga's Genitals are Not Our Business - Questioning Transphobia takes on the rumours/outing of Lady Gaga as being intersex. Raises good points about how Our Culture views women's and "unexpected"/non-normative genitalia as public property.

[EDIT: Related Link: Is posted in the comments by Bifemmefatale! Tigerbeatdown is, upon first impression, all kinds of awesome. I shall be reading it further! :-) /EDIT]

Related thoughts:

What I think is interesting about the Lady Gaga thing is how it touches on both slut-shaming ("What was she doing "parading around" without underwear??") and on our cultural ideas about what a Real (feminine) Woman (tm) is.

Feminine women are heterosexual
Feminine women present themselves in ways that invite (sexual) attention from (heterosexual) men
Feminine women *don't* actively seek out sex for themselves
Feminine women don't actively seek out sex with other women[1]
Feminine women don't look for casual, no-strings-attached sex EVAR
Feminine women don't bother courting the attention/notice of gay men[2]

So Lady Gaga, presenting herself in really over-the-top, hyper-sexualizing costumes COMBINED with her singing about actively seaking out casual sex-with-men COMBINED with her openly desiring sex with women, too, COMBINED with her fan-base having a very significant gay-guy population...

This all slams right up against out cultural assumptions about what's "appropriate" behaviour for a (feminine) woman.
Which is, perhaps, why she keeps getting gossiped about as being a drag-queen, a "tranny", or otherwise suggesting that she was MAAB.
I think there's a certain breed of idiot (and there are oh, so many of them...) who really can't fathom a "real"[3] woman being
(A) into women
(B) into men, too
(C) actively owning her own sexuality
(D) while working it at the same time
(E) and going after what/who she wants
(F) while also hanging out with a lot of faaaaaaaaaaaaaags

and actually find it much easier to believe someone who is "discreditting" her womanhood by hollering "Lady Gaga is a MAN! Look, look! This picture on my camera phone proves it!" than to actually change their microscopic definitions to fit the existence of the above.


On a less political note:
Sur La Lune Fairy Tales - a collection of annotated fairytales and folktales. Woohoo!

- Amazon. :-)

[1] Lady Gaga is openly bi. (And, doncha know, those bisexuals are just big sluts anyway...)
[2] Gay Men being the "can't-compete-for-the-hetero-man-but-can-still-dish-about-how-cute-his-butt-is" version of the BFF in romcoms, for example.
[3] Read: FAAB.
amazon_syren: (Two Little Girls)
( Jul. 17th, 2009 12:48 pm)
Queer, Kinky and/or Poly Blogs (often also writerly):

No More Potlucks -- an Ottawa/Gatineau dyke blog.

Freaksexual -- first (currently) article is (A) long, and (B) about youth (as opposed to age) and poly organizing. So far, so interesting.

Radial Symmetry - The Blog of the Amazing and Delectable Megan Butcher.

AmandaEarl[DOT]Com - her new site, which includes poly stuff and writerly stuff, among other things. :-)

Radical Vulvas -- Ottawa Chapter. Keep your eye out for their August 14th show. :-)

Smut in the Capital City -- I posted this one a couple of days ago, but I'm putting it here, too. It's the blog of Rockalily co-founder Rawknee. Go take a look. :-)


Sex Geek - also local. Sweeeeeeeeeeet. :-D

In particular, take a look at:
Ten Realistic Rules for Good Non-Monogamous Relationships,
desperately seeking a hot bi babe (or, the politics of recruiting),
On (not) Being Femme.

There will be posts talking about this stuff - particularly the last one - in a day or two.

For now, I need to get myself out for a walk and some writing.

- Amazon.
Free 45 Minute Pole Dancing Lesson this weekend from 3sixty. They're at 333 Catherine (at Lyon, in the same building as a Kung Fu studio), and the open house schedule can be found here.

Smut in the Capital -- This is the sex-possitive blog of Rawknee (of Rockalily Burlesque). Just thought I'd throw it out there.

The First Montreal Burlesque Festival! :-D Which I think says it all, really. It sounds like a hoot and holler! :-D

The Erotic Authors LJ comm., complete with calls for submissions. YAY! :-D

On a different (and significantly more pissed off) note, we have this:
Dora The Explorer Makeover.

Don't get me wrong. I totally get the issues about teaching little girls to pay attention to, worry about, and/or scrutinize their looks.
HOWEVER, what bugs the hell out of me about this whole hoopla - that the issue is all about Neo!Dora dressing in, well, a *dress* - is exemplified by comments like this one from Holli.

Why is it that as soon as a gal starts looking/presenting as/dressing *feminine* it's assumed that all she cares about is Attention from Boys, and that every intelligent, curious, adventurous thought flies out of her head as soon as she puts on a fucking dress?

As a woman with a philosophy-heavy degree, a heap of grad studies, a creative streak a mile wide, a tendency towards Deep Thoughts[1], and a closet full of cocktail dresses and stillettos, I find this deeply, deeply, offensive and, hm, personally insulting.

<*rages at stupid assumptions*>
<*stalks off to read Julia Serano on our cultures denegration and demonization of the feminine*>

- Amazon.

[1] Not to mention a girlfriend. Heterosexist assumptions much?
Hey, look at this!

Fem(me)inist Manifesto.

Talks about Brazen Femme and Straight with a Twist and how those two books helped the author to identify as het!femme and sex possitive.

Neat! :-)
amazon_syren: (Default)
( Apr. 14th, 2009 01:35 pm)
So, there was a thing on Pandagon critiquing some article in cosmo. Which is, admittedly, kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. But if you read the comments there’s a whole lot of talk about The Beauty Myth and discussions of wearing makeup vs not wearing makeup and how that compares to things like body-hair removal vs not bothering, for example.

So I thought I’d talk about that for a while.

See… The whole Femininity = Bad/Stupid/Worthless thing that I see both in Patriarchal culture in general AND in a lot of branches of feminism… that’s always bothered the hell out of me.
Way, WAY before I was able to articulate why, or that I identify as femme, or what-have-you, I was irritated as hell that my penchant for playing Barbie as a kid, loving makeup, and always wanting to wear dresses somehow meant that, on some level, I wasn’t a Real Feminist. That Real Feminists played with lego and tinkertoy as kids, and wore jeans a polo shirts (notably referred-to as “I dress… like a lesbian” by one otherwise charming just-out-of-the-closet baby-dyke) now, and never wanted any of that girly crap, ever, at all in their lives.

But I did, and I do.

I *like* that I lucked out, as a skinny white chick with a fast metabolism, and got super long legs, full lips, big-but-not-“too-big” hips, little-but-not-“too-little” tits, and hair that grows long and straight and more-or-less behaves itself.

I *like* that, other than being 6’4” instead of, say, 5’11”, I basically hit the patriarchal genetic jack-pot in terms of how I look.

I have, by and large, light coloured hair that doesn’t grow that fast or in particular profusion.
My tits are small enough that I don’t need a bra, but they’ll still fill out a tight t-shirt nicely.
I’m university-educated (and middle class), which means that I’m not *stuck* (necessarily) working in service-industry jobs (such as the retail job I worked for six-and-a-half years) that require me by company policy to present all the more feminine-and-therefore-docile-and-therefore-useable because of my subservient position to my (company’s) clients/customers, while also not being *stuck* working factory, cleaning, or other labour jobs that will give me calluses, heat-damage, and so-on due to my intense working conditions.
I’m tall and skinny and come by that genetically which means I don’t particularly have to work at maintaining my “figure”.
My lips, hips and scalp-hair scream “Socially Accepted Forms of Femininity” loudly enough that my lips can be chapped, my hair can be greasy, and my hips can be draped in some seriously frumpy skirts… and the “social fall-out” of that is that some “concerned citizen” might ask me if I’m feeling alright today. I’m not going to get the kind of flack (typically) that gals who are shorter, heavier, or darker-in-skin-or-hair could (do) get from random strangers under the same circumstances.

In our culture, femininity is skinny, Caucasian, and 23 years old.

One Tenacious Baby-Mama has some really excellent blog-posts about being a femme of colour and how her body is hyper-sexualized by Society, not only because she’s a woman, but also because she’s Black (see also: the hottentot venus, exoticized cabaret belly dance, infantalized hawt asian girls, the assumption that aboriginal women are probably doing sex-work and/or that it doesn’t matter if they get raped and murdered vs the manhunt that went on after Ardeth Wood’s body got discovered, etc. etc).

I’m skinny, Caucasian, and 29 years old. With a baby-face that means, if I dress 23 (and sometimes even if I don’t), people will believe that I am.

So – thanks to genetics – I don’t have to work that hard in order to present as feminine in order to gain the tacit approval of our patriarchal culture and its norms and mores – and getting/not!getting that tacit approval does have concrete repercussions in one’s life. For example, transwomen who present obvious male physical traits (facial hair, pattern baldness, etc) get hit by pretty massive discrimination – everything from verbal harassment to murder – for not presenting the “required amount” (???) of socially accepted forms of femininity. (Example from pandagon found here).

So. I don’t *have to* work as hard to present as feminine, etc. etc.
This means that I can look at femming it up with makeup and lingerie and all that stuff more as a fun game than as a burden I’m required to bear if I want to get by in my culture.

Maybe that’s part of why I like it. Because, for me, makeup is art. It’s grade-four face painting taken to a different extreme. (Why do you think I spent my late teens and early twenties with eyeliner all over everything? ;-)
I tend to wear more makeup – and jewellery, and better-fitting clothes - the better I feeling about myself. Personal adornment is a symptom, if you will, of my liking myself. Not a cause.

That said: I also get myself dolled up when I want to be noticed – specifically when I’m feeling ignored and want to grab people’s attention specifically so I can ignore them while they give it to me.

Likewise, I like having smooth, hairless legs (among other things) because I like the softness of my skin, because I like the way my calves feel when the rub together and don’t have stubble, etc. But I also like having smooth, hairless legs because I don’t feel like I’m wearing fuzzy leg-warmers with my office skirts and/or lingerie, and because I know my girlfriend like my legs smooth, too. (Granted, I like her legs smooth as well. It’s not like we aren’t both depilating in this scenario).

And, yeah. I don't have a bus-pass. And the walk to work is refreshing. But it's also an hour and a half of walking every day, which means I'm actually getting some small amount of low-impact excersise every day. Which is good for me and which - yeahyeahyeah - may help to keep me from gaining back the weight I lost post-divorce.


All that ambivalent stuff being said:

It just bothers me to hear stuff like “It’s so sad that you don’t think you can be beautiful without makeup” or living up to some other patriarchal standard of beauty.
It kind of falls into the same boat as “You like fucking, ergo you are oppressed and living in false-consciousness!” Jaknow?

It’s like:

O, hai. Mirror? Can haz. Kthxbai.

I know what I got and I like it.

Heaven forbid I actually *like* what I look like and *not* have somebody punishing me for liking it. Honestly. :-P

Anyway. That’s my not-too-sensical ramble for the afternoon.

- Amazon.
Are you familiar with the blog I Blame the Patriarchy?

It’s written by a gal who goes by the name of Twisty and it is, by and large, quite a good blog with a lot of smart things to say.

However, something is bothering me.

See, she’s very anti sex-workers. Or so it appears, given how she writes.

I’d like to say that she’s just down on the industry which, I agree, could do with some damn significant overhauling in terms of who has power and how workers are treated (by employers, clients, the police and the media, for a small slew of examples).

Unfortunately, statements like the following seem to belie this possibility:

I have to wonder how many of the women identifying as “feminist” in the study were in fact the sort of feminist for whom “pole dancer” is a synonym. What I suggest is not altogether an unlikely scenario, since this species of feminist is, as we know, much more common than the feminist kind of feminist. Feminists who use their empowerfulization to reclaim femininity, you know, for themselves goddammit, would of course enjoy the reinforcingly pleasant side effect of appeasing dudes who are threatened by non-patriarchal gender roles.
(Emphasis mine).

See, what I see here is the specific and deliberate contrasting of “sex worker” with “feminist” – as if the two could only ever be mutually exclusive.
As if Carol Leigh, Carol Queen, Annie Sprinkle, Sasha van Bon Bon, Chris Bruckert, Kathryn Payne and my own girlfriend – just to name a very limited few – aren’t/weren’t radical feminists *and* sex workers at the same time.

So I’ve decided to use that paragraph, and the opinions that (seem to) underlie it, as a jumping-off point for something I want to talk about.

See, as both Carol Queen and Kathryn Payne (among others) have pointed out more than a few times, The Patriarchy – and the homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and general sexism (to say the least) that go with it – fears and loathes femininity.

“Proper” femininity is “under control”, infantilized one might say. It’s the femininity that wears pink and simpers and doesn’t know how to make decisions. It’s the femininity that says “yes dear,” over and over again. This femininity does not leave the domestic sphere – the house, maybe even just the kitchen. She has no concept of her own desire beyond a pubescent shame over her own body. This femininity sees sex as a wifely (only wifely, not girlfriendly) duty and/or a means to getting born-in-wedlock children.
This is the femininity that is held up, virginal and obedient, by The Patriarchy (the church and the law) as what women “should” be.

The other femininity. The one that is denigrated by the church and the law, the femininity that is all grown up, that wears red, that is carnal and knows it, that isn’t shut off from or out of her body, this femininity is criminalized, marginalized and demonized by The Patriarchy. And it’s denigrated in this way, and to this extreme, because The Patriarchy – this androcentric culture that is so, SO divorced from its own sensuality, sexuality, bodiliness – knows how damn much it craves, collectively, that carnality, that flesh which it has, throughout the cultural histories it claims as its lineage, called “female” and “womanly” and also “base”, “evil”, and “filth”.

Kathryn Payne has explained that the power (economic and survival) of the sex worker (the stripper, the agency escort, the street-walker, the porn star, the trophy-wife (bet you didn’t see that one coming – or maybe you did), the pro-domme, the peepshow dancer, all of them) lies in working femininity: in pulling out the stops and turning up the volume of what it is to be feminine until you can see it, hear it, smell it coming blocks and blocks away. This is NOT femininity that is performed to “[appease] dudes who are threatened by non-patriarchal gender roles”[1].

When one denigrates sex workers, one denigrates overt, aware feminine sexuality: One denigrates power-full, empowered femininity (whether that femininity is being done/played overtly for cash or for personal pleasure or for both) that knows what it wants and knows how to demand it. This denigration corroborates the beliefs and the power-structures (see [1]) of The Patriarchy, and it does the cause of Feminism no good what so ever.

- Amazon.

[1] Because patriarchal gender roles include “active, aware, sexually aggressive, and independent men/males/masculinity” VS “passive, clueless, sexually “receptive” (receptical?) and andro-dependent women/females/femininity”, while sex-worker femininity is active, aware and aggressive, and knows that – particularly in the context of sex work itself – while masculine sexuality craves and seeks out feminine sexuality, feminine sexuality is whole and complete until itself.


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