“Women and femininity are so derided in American culture that it's not uncommon to see men punished via feminization. A prison in South Carolina, for example, disciplines sexually active inmates by dressing them in pink. Another Arizona prison mandates that all inmates wear pink underwear. This shaming technique, however, isn't limited to convicts. A preschool in central Florida came under fire in 2004 when parents discovered that teachers were reprimanding unruly boys by forcing them to wear dresses, and in 2001, a teen sued his former school for forcing him to cross-dress (complete with wig and bra). It seems that as far as punishment goes, nothing is worse than being a woman.”
“Rejecting femininity is seen as a cool and radical thing to do. Femme-ness is consequently labeled conformist and unimportant. According to this logic, femmes are eye candy, but we don’t really have anything interesting to say. In case there was any doubt about this, let me clarify: just because I wear makeup and heels does not mean I’m brainless, unaware of my actions, and unwittingly conforming to patriarchal expectations. I have not failed to deconstruct my internalized whatever-the-fuck. I am not waiting for you, oh great masculine-of-center queer person to save me by showing me the error of my ways.”
“Most Black women still do not receive the respect and treatment - mollycoddling and condescending as it sometimes is - afforded White women. So when these Black women complain about not wanting to lose their femininity, they are referring to something quite different. The difference has to be understood in an analysis of how the classic "feminine characteristics" are viewed in relation to Black women.”
—Gloria Joseph and Jill Lewis, Common Differences: Conflicts in Black and White Feminist Perspectives (South End Press, 1981), p27
“Women make a multitude of decisions that impact the course of their lives. Some of these decisions are specific to marriage or partnership, career, education, and children. It seems, however, that out of all of the decisions that a woman makes in her lifetime, there is no choice that comes to define her as more “naturally” feminine than her decision to become a mother. The concept of motherhood is so tightly associated with female identity that we’re unable to conceive of a woman who has children and regrets doing so – or who chooses not to have children at all.
There is something about “choosing” not to become a mother that is tied to this ideology of motherhood as a feminine imperative. It’s as if choosing not to have children is choosing not to be feminine, and a woman choosing not to be feminine is a tough pill for people to swallow. Not surprisingly, a Canadian study has found that approximately half of women in their forties who made the decision to remain childfree declined to share with people that their decision was…a decision. The study found that this was because of the social pressure they believed they would receive if they disclosed that they were childfree by choice. It seems that even those of us who choose to remain childfree often keep this decision to ourselves, because we understand that there is an unwritten social contract that comes along with being a woman – not keeping our end of the bargain is something that people judge us for, so why share it?
Recently, a study conducted by sociologist Julia McQuillan found that distress over not having children is something that women only experience if motherhood is meaningful or important to them. Voluntarily childfree women feel little distress over their decision, regardless of what their family or friends think about their choice. This may seem like an obvious argument – of course women who want to conceive and are unable to do so will experience distress. But if a woman does not get a promotion at work or doesn’t get into the college of her choice, she doesn’t typically receive the same kind of judgment from society and doesn’t typically feel the same type of distress that comes along with not being able to experience motherhood. This is because those achievements and failures are not explicitly tied to gender, and by extension, femininity the way that motherhood is.”
“Women are not punished in this world for acting ‘like men’. We are punished for acting like human beings. In our world, only men are human. They take that label for themselves, they accord themselves social and economic and legal privileges because of it, and they declare women other and different and make damn sure that we wear our inferiority in whatever way they tell us to. Through our clothing and our hairstyles and our submissive and ingratiating behaviours.
Any time a woman gives herself the right to be fully clothed, to have access to forums and spaces in which to express her ideas and opinions, to work in fields which men declare unsuitable, to be comfortable and free of bodily restriction, she is (knowingly or not) refusing to accept her inferior sex-caste status. We are declaring our right to be human. Not our right to be men, our right to be human. Got it?
The association of man with human is so pervasive, yet invisible, that women refusing to accept inferior status is equated with wanting to be men, rather than with wanting to be human, which is surely more accurate. And it is difficult to get away from...”
“I'm telling you that the church has really crippled women when it tells them that their beauty is vain, and they are at their feminine best when they are "serving others." A woman is at her best when she is being a woman.”
There’s a difference between a) hating femininity because it’s a set of rules, beauty standards, behaviours, etc. created by men, forced upon women from birth, and designed to subjugate them to men and b) hating “feminine” things ONLY because they’re associated with girls and women.