In discussions about enforcement of femininity in fashion/presentation, I feel like I usually hear from three groups of people:
1. Butch women who’ve received a lot of negative attention for being butch and a lot of pressure to be more femme
2. Women who are very conventionally femme but who view it as an imposition, something that’s necessary to get along in society, not something they would ever choose to do independently
3. Femme women who find some value in being femme, who would choose to do it even without societal pressure, and therefore feel the effects of the other side of the double-bind more strongly (being told that femininity and intelligence are incompatible, that being conventionally attractive means they deserve/are asking for sexual objectification, etc.)
And I’ll be honest, I have some resentment for group #2, because they often seem to forget that being obligated by society to spend lots of unnecessary time and effort on makeup, fashion, etc. and successfully achieveing a socially valued, conventionally attractive result, is not the worst possible position a woman can be in. That in fact, women who don’t or can’t fulfill those obligations exist and may possibly be more burdened, or at least equally burdened, by not living up to those standards, as fashionable femme women are by the process of living up to them.
It’s late and I’m tired so, tomorrow, part 2: I don’t fit in any of these categories and I have feelings about that.