Monday, December 4

Friday anti-gender-role creative efforts

Blogger Kim seems to be among the 3rd type of blogger listed in my last post. Her comments sections seem to be mostly readers from types 3 & 2, but she reads a lot of type 1 blogs, apparently hoping that their similar positions that social messages influence individual behavior will produce good activism if she keeps reading and talking to them.

Near the bottom of one of her posts, I came up with an idea that I'd like to repost here, since belledame222 gave me a thumbs-up.

Commenter Laura wrote:

"[With respect to blogger] Twisty et al['s post and comments] - right on. The object of putting that photo up was CLEARLY to provoke mocking of the ["]stupid patriarchy serving sexbot["]. Like you, I have absolutely had it with the slagging off of women who wear thongs, makeup, heels etc etc - it achieves nothing and is antiwomen, therefore antifeminist as far as I'm concerned.

I would understand more if they were patronizing - ie she doesn't recognize she's been brainwashed and manipulated by patriarchal propaganda and society, she'll get there (wherever 'there' is) in the end with our help - because this would actually be blaming the patriarchy - but the examples you cite are just plain nasty, not to mention snooty and condescending.

(I'm not condoning this view, just think it would make a vague amount of sense in the Twisty feminism context).

I replied [edited a bit for clarity]:

Option 3--doing what you all perceive is going on in the comments at Twisty's--is inexcuseable.

Option 2--doing what Laura described above--is not, ideally, the BEST action, because it's still patronizing.

However, if done in moderation (that is, no farther than the point at which an individual starts to suffer emotionally from being patronized--lots of people can take it once or twice), the it might change enough behavior that the REALITY of what "women" in society look like is significantly altered.

If that happens people will have to get used to something new that they see with their own eyes, and social conditioning will in turn change for the healthier, because it will be modeled on a healthier reality.

The other reason it's excusable to some degree is that easier to convince people to abandon a marker of belonging to a group (such as a high heel) on account of its unhealthy aspects (leg damage) than it is to convince people to adopt a traditional marker of belonging to a group that isn't theirs (such as a high heel...on a man!) on account of its healthy aspects (social benefits that come with being taller and with having more "visually appealingly shaped" body parts--that is, calves).

I personally am trying to stay away from option 2 because others are doing enough, and my contribution might be the straw that breaks someone's emotional back.

Option 1--and this is the difficult one, but the only one that I feel morally justified in doing anymore--is taking all the "pro" arguments for somewhat-beneficial-and-somewhat-harmful markers of social category (gender, here) and convincing people who AREN'T members of that social category to say, "Fuck what people think of me!" and adopt those markers with confidence.

It's already catching on to some degree. Urban men one-shoulder bags now. And guess what? It's had the desired effect of making it more socially acceptable for WOMEN to carry 'mannish' one-shoulder bags, too, because now there IS such a thing!

The "ugly" one-shoulder bag (that is, a messenger bag) rode the power that men currently have in society and went from a bad thing to a good ("stylish") thing. All because some courageous men said, "You know, there's a significant advantage sometimes to having medium-weight burdens out of the hand but more easily accessible than over both shoulders. I don't care if people call this a 'purse.' I'm carrying it."

Unfortunately, that's the ONLY success story I can think of.

But I think our efforts should be channeled into Option 1 among our friends and, perhaps, even in our blogs.

What if every Friday, one among all the "But I LIKE lipstick!" feminists in the blogosphere rounded up all the arguments she's had to come up with to defend WHY she likes lipstick? What if she channeled it into a dead-serious ad for why men would like it too, if they'd give it a try.

Other feminists would then cross-post and quote her post.

Seriously, what do you think about making this a shared blogosphere project?

Lipstick one week, humanities majors the next, shopping the next (tell Walmart-mom-raised men the really awesome learning experiences they missed out on while they were at the lake!), etc.

We probably won't sell any male readers, but if we collaboratively work at this every week for a year or two, we'll get good at it.

Then we'll have 52-104 well-developed and sensible arguments that male and female readers can take to real-life discussions in their locker rooms and homes.

The project would be a bit like Phemisaurus or some of the posts at the Sparkle*Matrix, but crafted to persuade people who don't already see things the way we do, rather than people who do.
(Admittedly, that S*M link is exactly such a post, though it's still a little "why not to do" rather than "why do.")
It would be a lot like the Lads' Mags blog in that it clearly imagines what things would be like if not constrained by gender roles--but with clearer explanation to outsiders.

Reply here with your ideas for topics, your support, or links to other blog pages with topic ideas and support.

If you want to paraphrase my idea and write it in your own words in your blog, you have my permission. I would much rather see this become a reality than get credit for it, so if your blog has a lot of traffic and you want to rewrite the idea from scratch, be my guest.
(Just let me know so I can follow the discussion.)


Laura said...

Hi Katie,

I'm slightly confused by your idea - is the aim to write posts about how great lipstick is and aim this at men in order to undermine/mock the arguments for lipstick (which is the kind of thing phemi does) or to genuinely encourage men to embrace traditionally feminine qualities and so challenge the accepted ideas of gender, the ultimate aim being to get rid of gender steretypes altogether - ie anyone can wear skirts, anyone can be super strong, anyone can wear lipstick no matter what their sex? I'm all for the second idea, not a fan of the first!


Katie said...

The aim is genuinely encouraging men to embrace traditionally feminine qualities and so challenge the accepted ideas of gender, the ultimate aim being to get rid of gender steretypes altogether. (i.e. anyone can wear skirts, anyone can be super strong, anyone can wear lipstick no matter what their sex.)

Laura said...

Sounds like an ace idea to me!

sparkleMatrix said...

Suits me! no problems :-)

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