Femininity itself has become a brand, a narrow and shrinking formula of commoditised identity which can be sold back to women who have become alienated from their own power as living, loving, labouring beings.
From Laurie Penny in an interview here on Feministing about her new book, Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism. So many great thoughts in this interview.
AS: You also mention that feminist stereotypes exist because it “terrorises women with the fear that radical politics will destroy their sexuality and gender identity.” Why do you think this is women’s greatest fear?
LP: Whatever sex we are, we come to learn, particularly after we start school and the social segregation really begins, that our gender identity is the most important part of our overall identity, and that not fitting properly into the big pink box marked ‘F’ or the big blue box marked ‘M’ will lead to ostracizing, loneliness and shame. One of the things I’ve learned from my transsexual friends is how powerful and frightening the fear of being misgendered can be – it feels like a form of identity destruction, like a tiny part of us is being killed. Stereotypes about feminists – that we are sexless, masculine-looking, ‘hairy-legged’, aggressive – are often designed to imply that women who question gender norms on a personal or political level lose that feminine identity that is so important, as important as it ever was thirty years ago, to social and intimate acceptance. The fact that it’s not true – I know feminists of all ages and genders, and some of them are incredibly femme, and some are magnificently butch, and most fall somewhere in between – that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that we have allowed feminism to be rephrased as somehow anti-sex, anti-gender, when feminism is all about liberating gender and sexuality.