Feminism Friday: Fear of femininity

Following on from last Friday’s post about femme as an identity, I realised I had a few unwritten thoughts on the subject of femininity. Earlier this year, Lady Cheek told me about the World Femininity Day celebrations that she had planned for London. This was during a discussion on feminism and I have to admit to being a little shocked. Once I analysed my initial reaction I realised that, inadvertently, feminism had taught me that being girly was a bad thing. I’d picked up on the second-wave views that expressing femininity was about “giving in to the male gaze” and you (apparently) can’t smash the patriarchy in high heels, but I’d never really considered what I thought about that. I always felt like a feminist fraud in my Vivien of Holloway frock and petticoats. And why? Because of what some people I don’t agree with said? They messed with my mind and told me that traditional girl stuff was bad and wrong but… nothing’s ever quite that clear cut.

One of the arguments I heard about The Avengers movie, revolved around the treatment of Black Widow. To some, using your feminine wiles is 100% bad and therefore showing a female character who cried to get her own way is rather sexist. To others, Black Widow was simply using other people’s weaknesses against them in an extremely clever and effective way. To quote a friend of mine, it was “classic spy stuff”. The same was true of Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises. Amazingly smart manipulation of other people’s assumptions about her made Anne Hathaway’s character a very successful thief, but one which many feminists would probably hate with a passion. I discussed this with Amanda, who reminded me that classic feminine traits shouldn’t automatically be considered bad. When men manipulate people to get their own way, it’s the mark of success. When a woman does it, she’s a fucking bitch. Why is that?

Come on society, sort yourself out! Men and women can be different yet still treated equally. And it’s not as if all women are the same now, is it? Don’t get me started on that subject again.