Feminism and “looks”

Why is it so important what feminists “look like”? Why is this an issue at all?  It’s an issue because the mental image conjured by the word “feminist” is first and foremost an image of a woman — and that can’t be good.

Under patriarchy, of course, associations with “woman” and women themselves both individually and as a class are really, really bad — that’s kind of the whole point, and why we need feminism in the first place.  Women are undermined so completely under patriarchy that anything even remotely associated with “woman” lacks credibility, is inherently unpleasant and fundamentally flawed, and these negative associations are often automatic and unconscious making them insidious.

Secondly, women who are feminists — the real kind, women who are radical feminists — are not fully patriarchy-compliant by definition, and this noncompliance originates at the level of thought.  Radical feminists’ thoughts and minds are not colonized or fully colonized by men, and we might demonstrate this noncompliance outwardly.  Radical feminists might eschew intercourse and male-centric romantic partnerships, and reject the male-pleasing that entails.  Radical feminists might be lesbians — the real kind, women who value women, and seek to please and be pleased by women — not the male-pleasing kind.  And under patriarchy, anything that is not overtly and deliberately pleasing to men is ugly, and ultimately and generically “unpleasant” because it is only men’s perspective that counts.  Again, this is the problem.

Underlying attempts to debunk these “stereotypes” of feminists and radical feminists is, firstly, the assumption that if one is a woman, that is a bad thing to be — and by extension, that women are wrong, and what women say matters to them does not matter to them or to anyone (or to anyone important — and women aren’t).  And more importantly, there is also the assumption that what women and feminists are saying is inaccurate, because if you are be-ing wrong and living wrong, what you are saying cannot possibly be true.  In the process of assimilating these images and making these automatic, unconscious associations, wrong and inaccurate are made to be synonyms, even though they really aren’t.

One cannot escape the conclusion that men who use this “this is what a feminist looks like” debunking tool and apply the “feminist” label to themselves to add credibility to feminism and feminists are demonstrating that they personally believe that women are liars and not to believed — and that men are not liars and men are to be believed.  This does not help women or feminism but it does help men, and anti-feminism, a great deal.

And underlying attempts to debunk the “stereotype” of the ball-busting or lesbian feminist is the assumption that being either ball-busting or a lesbian or both are bad things to be.  To radical feminists, these are not bad things to be, and any energy spent towards debunking that “stereotype” does not help us, and only hurts us.  It is no coincidence that there is, in fact, a lot of energy being used this way.

Attempting to disabuse oneself or one’s audience of their notions of feminists as being patriarchy noncompliant is dishonest and inaccurate.  Feminists  — the real kind — actually are patriarchy noncompliant.  To say or to intimate otherwise is a lie.

Radical feminists are “wrong” under patriarchy, and we cannot be made right.  We do not and cannot care about that.  Our being “wrong” does not, however, make what we say or do inaccurate.  Radical feminists have a credibility problem, but this is by design.  What we say is correct.

— image by FCM click on image to visit Scum-o-rama

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5 responses to “Feminism and “looks””

  1. roaringinside says :

    This is brilliant! The only thing that matters about feminists in the mainstream is how we look, the stereotypes that are projected of us (which they think *we* voluntarily project) and of course, the fact that we are wrong. A woman is considered wrong by definition, so women must alter them-Selves to be tolerable to men (hence all the distorting/crippling/fake sadistic items and practices we must do/wear in order not to look as we naturally are, which would be offensive). Feminists (the true kind) dare to be women instead of crippled shadows of women and the consequence is that we are hated, because we choose to be integrously our-Selves, which means we live in a constant and pervasive context of misogyny which nobody/nothing on Earth can escape.

    I call myself a radical feminist because that’s how we identify nowadays, but whenever I can I still call myself a feminist or just a women’s liberationist, simply because back before the liberal backlash on feminism, I believe it was more or less clear to people what a feminist was, so a specializing term as ”radical” was not needed at that time because feminism hadn’t been hijacked. I know we can’t ignore the reality of the backlash, but I don’t want to give in to such stupidity either, and I don’t think we should. By taking liberal men, ”feminists” and transgender seriously we are merely losing time and they’re stealing our energy, which is what we must not do if we want a revolution. So sometimes I still identify as simply feminist because I refuse to allow the backlash to hijack that word. I have a male close acquaintance from childhood who is a right-wing conservative and knows I’m a feminist, and despite being polite is amused by asking me about feminist stereotypes and looks (”why you don’t shave?”, ”why are you wearing eyeliner if you’re a feminist?” etc.) which makes me lose time by having to explain whatever frivolous question that’s ultimately irrelevant to feminist political work and message. So I’ve lately spotted this tactic and now if he asks I simply tell him whatever I’m wearing or not is my political choice and none of his business at all.

    Terminology, appearance and stereotypes shouldn’t matter that much, we are not selling any product nor operating by any patriarchal standards where you have to have to go by a name, an appearance and a label. Who cares? We are who we are and what we want is not personal fame nor recognition nor any image in particular to be associated with us, we only bring a message of truth about a fascist world order that causes massive suffering and that needs to be destroyed. That’s all we should really care about.

  2. Noanodyne says :

    One of the most perfect summaries ever:
    “Radical feminists are ‘wrong’ under patriarchy, and we cannot be made right. We do not and cannot care about that. Our being ‘wrong’ does not, however, make what we say or do inaccurate. Radical feminists have a credibility problem, but this is by design. What we say is correct.”

  3. DavinaSquirrel says :

    Men have barged in and taken over everything on the planet, and they have their eyes set on ‘feminism’ – hence all this patriarchy propaganda of “this is what a feminist looks like” with a picture of a male.

    The women promoting such images (singling out men as the icons for feminism) are sex traitors and handmaidens of the patriarchy. Feminism is the only political movement on the planet that puts females and their welfare first, because males in their world domination have enslaved our labour. How much sense does it make to have the enslavers in charge of a liberationist movement? None. It would be the same ridiculous situation to have the bosses in charge of a workers’ union. Teh stoopid, it burns.

    So what have the two pictured ‘feminists’ done for women? The first’s great achievement, when not trying to kill or impregnate females, has been lately seen ‘herding the sluts’ – taking the front of ‘slutwalks’. The second has done little to nothing, given that on his watch, women’s reproductive rights have been more under threat than at any other time.

    I would rather have seen a picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
    And who gives a damn what ‘a feminist looks like’, I don’t. It’s not important.

  4. witchwind says :

    When we look at what feminists *do* rather than what they look like, it becomes immediately apparent who’s feminist and who’s not.

    Plus, we don’t reject men for what they look like, because we couldn’t care less about what they look like (especially because it’s dangerous to trust a man just because he has flowers on his shirt with long hair and a peace symbol – men are not to be trusted, whatever they look like). We reject men for what they *do* to us. Focusing on looks is just a way of distracting from the horror of what they do.

  5. Bedelia Bloodyknuckle says :

    Amazing post! It is just so frustrating talking to my family about my feminism (haven’t mentioned the anarchist part) without them assuming shit about it or saying I am becoming “anti-male” maybe, I should say yes too all of those accusations and then say they are pro-rape ans they will see what it is like to be misinterpreted!