Femme Feminist

Every once in a while I’ll stumble upon the argument that femininity upholds traditional gender roles and patriarchy.  And this is bullshit. “Feminine” clothing and colors and fashion constantly evolve. Much of what is today called feminine was historically the domain of men. 

Let’s look at heels for an example. Modern women are often told the Patriarchy has tricked us into wearing these tall, sometimes wobbly shoes. Heeled sandals and boots were invented many times over, but arguably the most influential version in the Western world were created in the Arabian peninsula for horse archery.  European aristocrats copied the style and raised the heel.

France’s King Louis XIV freaking loved them and can be seen sporting a new pair in every portrait.  What’s more he decreed that only nobility could wear heels, and no one could wear a heel taller than his.

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Louis XIV red heeled shoes

Heels weren’t the only trend Louis XIV set for French aristocrats.  He began to prematurely bald in his early twenties and wore elaborate long wigs to conceal this. Members of his court quickly copied the style, men with wigs and women with extensive styling of their own hair.

Two centuries ago,  the position of secretary was a man’s job, not considered suitable for women. Now it’s largely thought of as women’s work, beneath men.

The names Ashley,  Lauren, Sandy, Meredith, Lindsay,  Ashley and numerous others were at one time boys’ names. As more and more parents gave these names to their daughters the names shifted in public perception from boy names to gender neutral and eventually to girl names.

A feminine activity is something women do. Feminine fashion is what women wear.  Something becomes feminine as women claim it and men reject it for its association with women. There is nothing women can do that some man won’t hate, simply because women are involved. 

Rejecting femininity won’t erase men’s aversion to us. It is instead hatred of women that leads men to abandon a fashion or career or name because it is “too girly”.

Heels,  wigs, administrative work, and girly names were all once the near-exclusive domain of men.  These things are not inherently womanish,  lesser, or weaker than fashions and careers currently held by mostly men.

So by all means, refuse to wear pink (once considered a ruddy and masculine color) if you don’t like it. But don’t tell another woman her historical drag is upholding sexism. 

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2 thoughts on “Femme Feminist

  1. Not sure I follow your logic here (or the logic of the position you are arguing against) but this article made me remember one time when I was on the bus and I overheard two guys talking to each other, and one said that he used to want a mustang car but not anymore because he said it has started to become a “girl’s car”…

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