This essay by s. e. smith is something I honestly wish I could have written myself (but see Comment 1 below), because it’s a point that is rarely raised in fighting against misogynist sentiment and the gender roles that enable it. That point is, eliminating those gender stereotypes does not entail actually eliminating the stereotyped behaviour. Making this society safe for manly and effeminate behaviours from both sexes is paramount, regardless of whether or not the specific behaviours conform with the proscribed gender roles.
I want to live in a world where little girls are not pinkified, but where little girls who like pink are not punished for it, either. We can certainly talk about the social pressures surrounding gender roles, and the concerns that people have when they see girls and young women who appear to be forced into performances of femininity by the society around them, but let’s stop acting like they have no agency and free will. Let’s stop acting like women who choose to be feminine are somehow colluders, betraying the movement, bamboozled into thinking that they want to be feminine. Let’s stop denying women their own autonomy by telling them that their expressions of femininity are bad and wrong.
Antifemininity is misogynist. What you are saying when you engage in this type of rhetoric is that you think things traditionally associated with women are wrong. Which is misogynist. By telling feminine women that they don’t belong in the feminist movement, you are reinforcing the idea that to be feminine and a woman is wrong, that women who want to be taken seriously need to be more masculine, because most people view gender presentation in binary ways. This rewards the ‘one of the boys’ type rhetoric I encounter all over the place from self-avowed feminists who seem to think that bashing on women is a good way to prove how serious they are when it comes to caring about women and bringing men into the feminist movement.
There’s much, much more right here. What do you folks think?