When you hate on a woman for her pointy-toed shoes, skinniness, hairstyle, cheerleaderiness… you are participating in a misogynist system just as if you hated on her for being fat and not shaving her legs. You’re trying to comment on patriarchy, but on the way, you’re doing some woman hating. I’m hearing and reading it all week from 25 year old women on myspace, tech guys, radical feminists, friends, and my own brain.
Everyone loves hating on the Bejanes. Again, if you’ve been doing this and that was your first reaction, I’m not pointing and yelling “You’re sexist!” We’re all sexist. Look at your gut reaction of hate towards the outfits, chirpy voices, “identicalness”, hair, and shoes of the two women on stage, and think about why that reaction is so violent and powerful. What are you hating? Why did it come out in that kind of language that dehumanizes the two women from Microsoft? Sit with that for a while. Who else is “like that”? I would even challenge you to free associate a list of similarly hateable qualities.
Mixed in with the misogyny there is some fine criticism of Microsoft and of the very idea of the commercial break.
All anyone has to do is describe these women physically (very thin) and maybe say the word “fembot” and “we” think we know what’s being talked about. We hear a type – not a person. We hear qualities of femininity, which of course are understood to be despised. If we’re women talking this hate talk, we’re saying “I am not that.” If we’re men, we’re also delineating, “I am not that.”
This kind of talk is why I play with femininity at all. I am that. And I’m still your sister and I still have a brain. I am not a fembot. Talk to me like I’m a human being. Respect, y’all.
You know how people were making fun of some of us for worrying about “what to wear to BlogHer”? This is why. A good bit of the criticism directed at Microsoft drives home that where they erred is in sending women who wore the wrong thing.
I want people to dig around in their minds for a while and think about why that’s fundamentally messed up. You can be wrong. It’s okay. I think we all have internalized sexism, racism, classism – it is called hegemony. Pointing it out is not divisive – it’s helpful, and gets that stuff out into the open so we can give it a little analysis.
If you are a woman hating on another woman for big hair, makeup, pointy toed high heels, and chirpiness, and being thin, you are hating her for what you perceive as her buying into the system of patriarchal aesthetics. It signifies that she is willing to give a significant amount of her time and energy to men. We think that fembot, consciously or unconsciouly is sucking up to The Man, and getting privilege for it. That perception of privilege (which I’d argue is largely wrong) creates a lot of divisive resentment. That’s why we think we can talk smack about “plastic actresses with boob jobs in Los Angeles” and think that it’s okay to dehumanize them in our thoughts and language. It’s not right to hate a Bejane or an Uncle Tom. Isn’t bejaning yourself presented to us women as a survival skill? Isn’t it the way to be loved? To be non threatening? Then why is it also a ticket to hate? Because – coding yourself with feminine qualities is a way to signify inferiority. So we bitterly hate the ones who can and do code themselves extremely well according to patriarchal standards.
I don’t accept that entire system although I live in it and it is more powerful than I am as an individual. I see no escape from it, and so I play with it. I have the luxury of my sense of self worth, my job, my relationships, not depending on my conforming to feminine requirements.
Oh, and p.s. Yes – I do feel annoyed and uncomfortable at condescending men in hardware stores, whether I’m in a dress or in jeans and work boots. Yes I can go buy a hammer, but I still notice the sexism. The sexism is worse if I’m in a dress and it’s especially worse if I’m in a sexy feminine dress. Because I have a lot of privilege, I can mostly ignore that sexism. Many women don’t have the kind of privilege I enjoy.