Hussein Chalayan Dolce Far Niente SS10
anxiety fashion choices
if you are sexually attracted to me look at this spot on my forehead
Mari Katayama, “White Legs”
Doing things to annoy men is important.
Lingerie for and by Transgender Women? Hell yeah!
Yay! Love the website too. Make sure to check it out.
im rebloggin this again. take a moment to check out the great vids in the media section and support this website!
I was called “xiansheng” (roughly “sir” or “mister”) today by a shop assistant while I was wearing a dress. I guess I’m looking pretty masculine at the moment. I’ve been reading Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, slowly and out of order. and one of the editors, Zena Sharman, talks about femme privilege. Last week I attended the Unpacking Femme conference in Sydney and the idea of femme privilege came up a few times there as well. In all cases people were talking about women and femme as gender-normative, I don’t think anyone was suggesting that femme identity is privileged for men. In some of these cases there was a confusing blurring between gender-normative presentation and being cissexual.
I think ourcatastrophe put it pretty simply here:
presenting feminine or masculine as a woman is not the kind of social division that neatly maps onto a privilege/oppression binary and arguments over who has the “privilege” in this situation is like asking “so, which one of you is the man?”
sometimes you get shit for not gender-conforming
sometimes you get shit for being feminine
because you can’t win as a woman in this world
that’s why we need feminism
that’s, like, feminism 101
I want to add that femininity, even for women, even for cis women, isn’t necessarily gender-normative or gender-conforming. Because you can’t win as a woman in this world, something is always too feminine or the wrong sort of feminine (too sexy, not sexy enough). Presentation norms for women are incredibly specific to time, place, occasion, age and body.
I think the centrality of the body often gets lost in conversations about gender, or people talk about it in terms of broad categories like race, age, fat, disability etc. So much of how people see you, your dress, your gender is in tiny details though, like the shape of your forehead or the set of your eyes.
Anyway, in my specific body I receive heaps more harassment when I am dressed more feminine. Mostly sexual harassment but also general concern-trolling like ”you should smile more” or “you shouldn’t be out alone” and racial interrogations (sometimes as part of a come-on). I also have a lot of uncomfortable interactions that maybe other femme women wouldn’t be bothered by; I am pretty uncomfortable with being feminised in many ways. When I’m not looking feminine, I get less unwanted attention and fairly equal wanted attention (ie service), which feels a lot like being assumed to be competent and autonomous. It’s pretty sweet. Obviously these are a just a few observations from a life I don’t live as an experiment in gender so it’s in no way a controlled test, and I’ve probably spent a lot more time looking feminine. And I have no doubt this wouldn’t be the case if I had a different face and body. As a very short, slight, glasses-wearing East Asian, whatever masculinity I might project is pretty non-threatening in Australian society and probably most cultural contexts.
But anyway, I can’t divorce my gender presentation from other people’s responses. Yes, I have a lot of feelings about aesthetics, gender, fashion etc that are independent of how people see me. But yes, being seen as stronger does also make me feel stronger. Most of the time, the kind of femme presentation I enjoy is a little bit more work (not necessarily in terms of grooming but I have a really huge amount of femme clothes that don’t go together while my un-femme clothes are more manageable in number and easily matching) and a lot more unpleasant in the way people interact with me. Sometimes I choose to resist that, more and more I think what’s the point? Why make my life more difficult in a way that’s not changing anything for anyone?
I have nothing to add at the moment, except that this is a good post and thanks for blogging about it.
Scalding my scalp (roots bleach!) and mud masking, listening to swoony pop diva music, about to watch some L Word while getting ready for my hot VDay date with my estranged high school best friend Jane-to-my-Daria situation.
These femme rituals are not for everybody, and not should they be, but they connect me to other fems and I enjoy them.