Feminism and Femininity

Right, ready to get shot at by angry people for this. (Real bullets if possible - not feeling too keen on life at the moment - and for the sake of whatever is good and right don't miss.)

I'm a feminist who likes all things STEM. I'm also vaguely feminine. No, this doesn't mean I'm a weird androgynous sellout to the patriarchy. If anything, it probably just means I'm human.

I'm very, very sick of the fucked-up attitude towards femininity that I've seen everywhere. Sometimes it's a good thing to have, because a feminine woman fits neatly into society's little boxes. Sometimes it's a bad thing to have, because women are weak, girls have cooties and any kind of femininity is obviously submitting to the kyriarchy. Most of the time femininity is crazily regulated. In short, society done fucked up. Again.

Why do I oppose this? Because I'm sick of the stupid, the oppression, and the way people race around breaking and twisting themselves to fit into nice, neat little boxes. Trying to regulate, praise or condemn femininity one way or the other is in no way a good thing due to its restriction of self-expression and it can never be progressive, never.

At this point some people might start looking at me strangely; surely getting rid of the antiquated fetters of femininity is a good thing? Conversely, surely we shouldn't let those hairy-legged, man-hating feminists have their way?

The thing is, both my straw people are wrong. Not just because they're straw people, but because they think that imposing rules on how an autonomous, sapient being can do something that affects them and them only them is somehow a good thing. The key here is getting rid of those antiquated fetters and then not putting any more fetters on, which is the bit that people seem to be missing. Femininity in itself is not one of those antiquated fetters; femininity is a set of attributes traditionally and wrongly ascribed to girls and women. There is nothing inherently wrong with those attributes - what is wrong is those attributes being something that some people must have and that others must avoid. You see the difference?

Fundamentally, I'm not trying to say that being feminine or unfeminine is wrong; I'm saying that it's a personal decision and that exalting one and demonising the other is therefore the wrong thing to do. Now, I'm not so naive as to argue that any trait is inherently empowering; for example, in our society it's not necessarily inherently empowering for women to put on make-up as it's seen as something pretty normal for us to do and even something required. Neither is it inherently empowering to remove body hair, because in Western culture it's what we're expected to do. And I'm not even going to go into sexy clothing, because as long as the kyriarchy has a death grip on sexuality and sexual objectification any discussion of that is going to be thorny and difficult. Hell, the kyriarchy has a death grip on everything and that's part of where the backlash against femininity comes from; as long as the kyriarchy exists, it's going to impose its twisted and contradictory ideals on everyone without mercy - including forcing some people into femininity and restricting others from showing any at all. The key, then, is not to try and oppose the kyriarchy by imposing other ideals on people; it's to oppose the kyriarchy by liberating ourselves from all idea of what a woman, or a man, or whoever should be like and putting no idea at all in its place - except the idea of personal choice. In other words, smash cultural expectations and then do whatever the hell you want.