subverting femininity

When I was younger and more abled, I was so fucking on board with the fantasy genre’s subversion of traditional femininity. We weren’t just fainting maidens locked up in towers; we could do anything men could do, be as strong or as physical or as violent. I got into western martial arts and learned to fight with a rapier, fell in love with the longsword.

But since I’ve gotten too disabled to fight anymore, I… find myself coming back to that maiden in a tower. It’s that funny thing, where subverting femininity is powerful for the people who have always been forced into it… but for the people who have always been excluded, the powerful thing can be embracing it.

As I’m disabled, as I say to groups of friends, “I can’t walk that far,” as I’m in too much pain to keep partying, I find myself worrying: I’m boring, too quiet, too stationary, irrelevant. The message sent to the disabled is: You’re out of the narrative, you’re secondary, you’re a burden.

The remarkable thing about the maiden in her tower is not her immobility; it’s common for disabled people to be abandoned, set adrift, waiting at bus stops or watching out the windows, forgotten in institutions or stranded in our houses. The remarkable thing is that she’s like a beacon, turning her tower into a lighthouse; people want to come to her, she’s important, she inspires through her appearance and words and craftwork.  In medieval romances she gives gifts, write letters, sends messengers, and summons lovers; she plays chess, commissions ballads, composes music, commands knights. She is her household’s moral centre in a castle under siege. She is a castle unto herself, and the integrity of her body matters.

That can be so revolutionary to those of us stuck in our towers who fall prey to thinking: Nobody would want to visit; nobody would want to listen; nobody would want to stay.

anonymous asked:

Is it weird to evaluate yourself on the Butch/femme scale? I do that sometimes and then I wonder why I'm doing it.

It’s not wrong at all, and it can be fun! But please understand that, outside of silly fun, there isn’t a scale from butch to femme, the idea that there is (including ‘futch’) was started as a joke.

Butch and femme are both lesbian identities with history and cultural meaning for us as lesbians, and go much deeper than a scale from not-girly to girly. They’re exist only in the context of love between women, which is why even a super feminine cishet girl can’t be femme, and a gender-nonconforming cishet girl can’t be butch.

This is one of those things that’s really hard because so much of gay culture is inaccessible because older gay people (lol, actually older gay people, not someone in their twenties!) are highly stigmatized as a danger to children and young adults. That, coupled with the devastation from the ongoing AIDS crisis, leaves this huge disconnect between different generations of our community. One of the best things you can do is read and learn your history. (Please, from somewhere other than just a bulleted list on tumblr… tumblr is great for a lot of things, but historical and scientific accuracy is not high on that list!)

Stone Butch Blues is one such work that you might want to look into. As always, it’s best to buy or borrow from the library, but you can find it easily online too–which is way easier to hide if you need to.

I wanna end this with a quote about butch and femme identities that really is such a wonderful opener to the subject:  
“Butch is a trickster gender—and so, in a similar way, is femme. Lesbian gender expressions do not emulate heteropatriarchy, they subvert it. Femme removes femininity from the discursive shadow of masculinity and thereby strips from it any connotation of subordination or inferiority. Butch takes markers of “masculinity” and divests them of their association with maleness or manhood. Butchness works against the gender binary—the masculine/feminine paradigm—and reclaims for women the full breadth of possibilities when it comes to gender expression.”

Caroline Narby, “On My Butchness”

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I used to think I was empowered for shaving my legs because I shaved them for myself, not for men. But then I thought about it and, if I had grown up in a different society, would I still feel the compulsion or want to shave any part of my body? I realized that the mere idea of shaving had been planted in my brain and though it was my decision and I “do it for myself” I was conditioned to make that decision under the guise of empowerment, all while playing into what a patriarchal society thinks a woman should do. I thought that I had made this decision of my own volition, and that I was somehow subverting toxic feminine expectations. My shaving, even doing it for my own pleasure, was born and ingrained in me by a misogynistic society. The choice to do it for myself was never really an option because simply the act of doing it plays into the misogynistic societal expectations of women and therefore perpetuates the ideology that women should be hairless and are less-than if they choose not to be. I guess I’ve just come to the realization that while I might feel emboldened by certain acts, they aren’t actually empowering and don’t help further the feminist movement. It’s really shifted my perspective on many things in, what I hope is, a good way.

alittleredsparrow  asked:

I personally like Sheith a lot. But I don't really want it to be central to the story. Voltron is a Shounen, it revolves around action and adventures in space. Story > Pairing in a shounen always. I could get behind Kallura too, I think. I'm not big on Knight/Princess pairings but if they subverted it like they've been subverting Allura's femininity so far. IDK just as a (mostly) gay man it would be cool if gay characters became more normalized in shows like Voltron. Thats where I'm at with this

That’s something I get. My issue with KL fujioshi is that they want the pairing to be front and center at the expense of everything, including the giant robot action that’s the reason people care. The show is not gay fujioshi! It’s a shounen action show. And that’s why I call them fujioshi, because it’s exploiting rather than normalizing.

In both Shieth and Kallura, the pairings inform, but do not define the character. It’s a variant of the Betchdel test. Are both defined by their relationships, or are their relationships defined by them? Kallura, both have their goals, Keith to find his family and his origin, Allura to avenge her people. Same with Shieth. Klance? Hardly.

A note on a post that I made back in the middle of March:

After seeing Get Out, I read this article by Aisha Harris titled “The Most Terrifying Villain in Get Out Is White Womanhood”, analyzing the role of the villain, Rose. Rose is the girlfriend of the main character who lured him (and many other black men) to her home for this underground network of slaveowners so their bodies could be possessed and used for their own gain.

Rose was a very scary and capable villain in a movie about liberal racism and I found the article interesting. In particular, and in general, Rose reminded me of another villain I had spent time thinking about at the time. Albeit, their social context are totally different, with Rosamund being about homophobia. Both Rose and “Rosamund” Mary occupied seemingly invisible and innocent roles of oppression in being these surprise villains.

So I made a gifset of the article, displaying how it resonates with subverting images like that of Birth of a Nation, King Kong, How to Kill a Mockingbird, Othello, and Kanye West and Taylor Swift, tying it into some of the larger political issues the article references. It was however, just a gifset, not even a Buzzfeed article for all its flashiness, and wasn’t really getting across the one thing it should have: nuance. Even with social issues in media I’ve posted about in the past, the posts themselves have been straightforward and simply to parse. This was a much more treacherous topic. I wasn’t particularly happy with the post because I rushed it while editing, and only a few days after making it, I made it private.

Unfortunately, like everything on this website, it inevitably became not just a beaten, dead horse, but something that was twisted beyond my original intent and has simply refused to die, amassing at this point 26,000+ notes compared to the mere 125 or so when I made it private.

Specifically, a post based on an article about subverting images of white femininity and translating them into their complicity with white supremacy across a historical context has largely become… not that. Some of the comments have been in tune with the article. But the majority of the different chains I’ve seen spread with this post have been filled with misogyny disguised as anti-racism. At several points, I’ve seen people say that white women are just as dangerous as white men.

And unsurprisingly, I noticed a few days ago that it started gaining notes again, surely not incongruent with Taylor Swift’s new single and the endless bashing occurring in these here parts, fresh off a public sexual assault trial. (And in case I have not said the word “nuance” and its variations enough yet, I am not saying she is beyond criticism: the post I linked to before contains an example of just that).

Let me reiterate: the points that the article touched on, including institutionalized, liberal racism, modern-day slavery, the role of white women and femininity in the complicity of white supremacy, and the enforcement of patriarchy being used to dehumanize black men and women across decades of mass media images, iconography, tropes, and history, including events such as Emmett Till and other murders and lynchings, are not just incredibly real and serious, but a necessary discussion we should be having as a society.

That is not what this is.

It is not useful, constructive, or even remotely self-contained. I would call it a scapegoat or a transparent, buzzword lightning rod, but it’s not even that.

Because, galaxy brain: it’s a goddamn gifset. 

What initially struck me as a fascinating storytelling choice about specific, unique tools that white women have in the role of white supremacy has, despite my intent, fed into this larger discourse, not just on Tumblr, but the rest of the internet as well, that reduce the layers behind all of these topics to, at large, women playing the victim. Erasing the victimization and trauma of women in patriarchy as long as you put ‘white’ before it.

It’s far too late to stop this post from spreading any further. There isn’t really much of a purpose in challenging most of the comments either, because they are at some point in any version of the chain, based in these serious issues. But that’s all too common, isn’t it: rooting endless, 24/7 bashing and criticism in something real instead of just flinging your normal shit at a wall, because it will probably have an easier time sticking.

But I wanted to let everyone know my views on this debacle, that the post is bad, and how most people on here are bad. More info on the post if you missed it below the cut. 

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Can bi women be butch/futch/ femme? Sorry if this is a really ignorant question I just don't want to overstep my bounds

it’s not a really ignorant question at all. it’s a good question because there’s really like…no clear answer.

butch/femme are lesbian subcultures and lesbian-dominated terms. removing them from their history and context of lesbianism would be out of line, to say the least. but bisexuality is very obviously tied to lesbianism (just speaking by proximity, at the very least, particularly in the 60s when butch/femme cultures really became popular, all lgbt people flocked together. still do. that’s why we’ve got the acronym in the first place) and i would wager that historically quite a few bisexual women participated in butch/femme culture. terminology used to be a lot less distinct when it first became used—lines between gender and sexuality were a lot more blurred, and i’d wager that lines between sexual preference were a lot more blurred, too. like bisexual people in lgbt spaces historically were probably looking for a safe space to express same gender attraction and embrace themselves through acknowledging that same gender attraction.

so no, i wouldn’t say they’re totally off limits. but i would say that you should always keep in mind that they are very much lesbian terminology, specifically used to talk about attraction to other women and expressing attraction to women in a gender presentation. femme doesn’t just mean feminine and butch doesn’t just mean masculine. to quote caroline narby, "Butch is a trickster gender—and so, in a similar way, is femme. Lesbian gender expressions do not emulate heteropatriarchy, they subvert it. Femme removes femininity from the discursive shadow of masculinity and thereby strips from it any connotation of subordination or inferiority. Butch takes markers of “masculinity” and divests them of their association with maleness or manhood. Butchness works against the gender binary—the masculine/feminine paradigm—and reclaims for women the full breadth of possibilities when it comes to gender expression.“

TL;DR: if you’re comfortable defining your gender in terms of womanhood, and you’re attracted to women, and you’re okay with using terms that present your sexuality as exclusively attracted to women, then yes i think it’s fine to use them.

frida kahlo specifically darkened her facial hair w makeup and painted herself with her hair prominently displayed to subvert concepts of femininity and white ideals of beauty;  to recreate her image without facial hair so you find her “prettier” is an act of racist misogynistic disrespect theres really nothing else to it

anonymous asked:

What's gnc?

“Gender non-conforming.

Generally used in the context of “masculine” women or “feminine” men, but can be used to refer to a broader class of people that defy gendered institutions (eg. femme lesbians can still be considered gnc because they subvert the institution of femininity, while butch lesbians are gnc for rejecting it).”

quoting @tomcats-and-tophats

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Melbourne babes, my first solo exhibition is opening in a couple of weeks time! Friday 5th Feb, be there!!!

♡♡♡ GEMMA FLACK - ANGRY GIRLS CLUB ♡♡♡

A bedroom installation and art project exploring identity, self-image, self-doubt, individuality, intimacy and vulnerability. This exhibition focuses on the idea of using personal spaces as sanctuaries away from the external influences that mould the choices, thoughts and feelings of marginalised identities under patriarchal society. Angry Girls Club is a celebration of how girls and non-binary people adapt, rebel against and subvert expectations of femininity, as they find and form their own individual identities in the world.

OPENING NIGHT: Friday 5th February 2016, 6pm - 9pm
EXHIBITION DATES: 5th - 18th February 2016

Off the Kerb Gallery & Studios
66B Johnston Street Collingwood 3066 (Melbourne, Australia)

Photography by Laura Du Ve @femmenatic

Styling by Laura Du Ve, Kelly McCabe @livesick-dieill and Gemma Flack @gemmafemma ♡♡♡

How Steven Universe subverts archetypes so well

This video by Moviebob got me thinking about the tropes we use in distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys in media. Mainly how the “good guys” in a traditional sense are seen as these big, macho, muscular paragons of manliness. 

While the bad guys in a traditional sense seem to be more flamboyant, sneaky, wispy and at times weak-looking models of an almost feminine appearance.

Even some of the best written female characters can really just be summed up as “male action hero with a woman’s body.”

A lot of these use of tropes could simply be boiled down to “Masculine good, feminine bad.” Now of course, tropes are tools, we can get good things out of these types of character archetypes, a lot of the images sourced here are from good media, it’s just how much of it there is. But it’s refreshing to see subversions to these types of works, such as in Steven Universe.

One of the things I love so much about Steven Universe is that it subverts all of these feminine bad, masculine good archetypes. All of the crystal gems feel like different flavors of feminine, even Garnet, the most “masculine” of the gems is very caring and doting toward Steven. She seems to understand him on an emotional level much more closely than any of the other gems. Steven himself is a very feminine boy, and it’s never portrayed in a way that makes him seem weak or submissive, if anything it shows that its his greatest strength. He’s loving and empathetic and only uses violence as a last resort, more often than not he wants to show others how to be good and wants to find an end to fighting. These actions don’t weigh him down or make him weaker, it just shows how good a person he is.

And on the other side, you know who’s the evilest character we’ve seen thus far? (Yellow Diamond has yet to make a full appearance so she doesn’t count) 

Jasper, the muscular, macho, male character spray-painted as a female character. She’s huge and strong, but she’s a brutal and prejudiced sadist who uses her strength to pummel the weaker, more “femininely evil” opponents into the ground. All of these are clearly male empowerment symbols and tropes but in a sexless “female” form. Hell, Jasper is even a traditionally male name, and the only reason why it works as her name is because it’s also a gemstone. But not once is her strength and power seen as empowering or just, it’s always seen as cruel and brutal, showing her a remorseless and mindless punching machine.

Even her insult to Garnet could be seen as metaphorical for something:

Taking in the whole “fusion is a metaphor for intimacy/relationships” thing, Jasper could’ve easily stated that having feelings or loving others is just a way of looking weak. Another thing about the empowered male symbol is that they’re seen as stoic, yet rage-filled testosterone dispensers, and showing feelings other than that makes them look like wusses. Fusion in this context (fusion has like 50 different metaphors at once) is seen as showing love and concern for others. 

Garnet literally states that she is “made of love, and it’s stronger than you,” showing Jasper that contrary to what she thought, Ruby and Sapphire’s love is what made them stronger, not held them back. Their love for each other and for Steven gave them the drive and the focus to fight back against Jasper and use he wits, beating her mindless strength with cunning and guided passion.

And it took a more loving, more emotional, and more feminine gem to beat her by using her own strength against her. 

Beth Didn’t Die Because of Misogyny

After seeing this old gifset (X) I realized something: Scott Gimple is not a misogynist. He values traditional feminine traits and their purpose.

(you can watch the video here)

Taylor Swift and Beth Greene are very similar people in looks and personality. I’ve been a part of the Taylor Swift fandom for about 5.5 years - I’ve seen all the hate. From 2010-2014 it was basically the Era of Let’s Hate on Taylor Swift. Comments like “slut,” “crazy bitch,” “middle school complex,” and “untalented” were common on social media and from my relatives. Sound familiar? Beth was “useless,” a “crybaby,” “childish” for wanting a drink, and after getting close to Daryl a “slut.” There’s not a day I can go into the Beth Greene or Bethyl tag without seeing some sort of hate.

Taylor Swift embodies traditional femininity, subverting typical masculine ideals of strength, and thus must be punished. Men and other female singers write/sing songs about love, and they are “artists.” Taylor writes a few break-up songs and is a crazy man-hating attention whore who gets into relationships for song material. Taylor Swift likes to wear dresses and loves glitter so she is antifeminist. During the summer hiatus Beth was antifeminist for similar ideals. It’s insane - I know - but very concentrated in our hyper masculine society. “Strong” women are defined in their terms of similarity to traditional masculinity such as Michonne and C@rol on Walking Dead. Beth and Taylor aren’t so they can’t be strong - rather they deal in feelings and feelings are signs of weakness. The negative association between emotion and power stems from the patriarchy’s attempt to disenfranchise women. One must act on logic - emotion is bad - when in reality emotions are vital to being human and serve a purpose, having evolved before logic and reasoning.  (I’m not saying that Michonne and C@rol aren’t strong, just that strength comes in different forms). It takes strength to allow oneself to feel and to recover from heartbreak. Taylor and Beth  both grew up quickly, Taylor having grown up in the music industry. (She signed her first record deal at 14 after walking away from RCA and joined an independent company as its first artist). They both survived debilitating emotional setback: Taylor survived emotional abuse and manipulation in Dear John and devastating heartbreak in All Too Well and The Moment I Knew. Yet she still believes in love (Begin Again) - she’s started dating again. Beth still hoped TF survived the prison assault in 4b and believed in herself while at the hospital.

If Scott Gimple can recognize that Taylor Swift is tough, then it means that he recognizes emotional strength. He recognizes it and values it, and it’s why he’s defended Beth. Hell, he made the leader of Alexandria a woman when in the comics it’s a man. He created C@rol’s murder and redemption arc. Scott Gimple values all types of women. So he wouldn’t just kill Beth off to fit some misogynistic manpain agenda. Beth is his brain child, and he’s going to make sure his girl shines next season.