Subtitle: It’s really cool when feminists can help me advance my personal interests, as long as nobody sees me talking to them, ’cause, you know, they’re ugly.
Over at Isis’s place, Victoria writes that she does not wish to be sexually harassed at scientific conferences, no matter what she is wearing. She does not want to feel responsible for controlling men’s poor behavior through her sartorial choices.
Zuska is on board with that.
Victoria also writes that she wants “to maintain the feeling of being a sexy, feminine woman without sacrificing the science”.
Zuska is less sure what this means. I mean, theoretically, there is not any actual conflict between doing science and being any sort of woman, sexy or unsexy, “feminine” or “unfeminine”, whatever the hell feminine actually means.
Ah. Perhaps that is actually the question?
Victoria has created a Facebook group where “girls” can talk about makeup and clothes and shoes and science, but “This group isn’t for the bra-burners!” Why? Because
bra-burners don’t like make-up. They don’t like high-heels. They don’t like dresses. They don’t like, well, bras. They don’t like these and a million other girly things because they are symbols of a society focused on the objectification and subjugation of women. I like all of these things. In fact, I find them to be empowering, so in general, “bra-burners” are the antithesis of who I started the facebook page for. Things I don’t like: the word “feminist” and being PC…And the last thing I want is for someone to make a big deal out of my being female (or even a girl). Yes, I think Rosalind Franklin is one of the most screwed-over women in history. No, I am not cool with that. What can I do about it? Pretty much nothing other than be pissed-off for her. Did bra-burners help us or hurt us? That’s debatable.
My point is that I didn’t start the facebook page for women who don’t care about shoes or makeup or clothes or things like that. There are plenty of other pages for women in science that are intent on saying everything that many of you are saying here. Fine. You want to talk about the feminist movement and how it’s advanced the cause of female scientists? Fine. That’s not what that group is for. It’s not that I don’t respect them, it’s that the group is just not for them and that’s the point. If you disagree, then don’t join the group. Honestly, I started the group for chick scientists (yes, chicks) that like girly stuff and/or because of it might have had to deal with more assholes than usual. Not to start a fight with females offended by the word “girl” or “bra-burner” or any other term I am likely to use that is very likely to be offensive to the majority of other females or people in general.
Honestly, this could go on and on, but I need to buy myself a new pair of Uggs and then go and pick up my red car.
Oh, Victoria. You make me very, very sad.
You want to wear your pretty clothes and not be sexually harassed and take advantage of all the advances the “bra burners” gained for women in science. But you don’t want anyone associating you with those women. You want all the rights and privileges and opportunities and protections and choices that feminists have fought long and hard to gain for all women, but you don’t want anyone calling you a feminist. You want other feminist women to do the dirty work for your benefit, but please keep far, far away from you in public.
You will, of course, call upon publicly avowed feminist women for advice in dealing with feminist issues – such as sexual harassment and a woman’s right to choose her own clothing without being subjected to leering advances in the workplace – but you will do so only to advance your own personal, selfish interests and agendas, not to make common cause with feminist women or admit that you have anything to gain from them or their efforts. And in fact, when you start forming your own little club, you tack up a “no feminists need apply” sign. And you see absolutely no irony in your position of appealing for advice and help to a feminist scientist on how to set up and publicize a group for women scientists designed to exclude feminist scientists.
You are one wacky girl, indeed, Victoria. You are somewhat ignorant, too. May I suggest that, if you can’t be bothered to associate with any real-life feminists or read any feminist history, you take at least the modest effort of googling “bra burning”, which will yield this easy to read Snopes entry debunking this tired old myth about radical sixties women ripping off their bras and burning them en masse. Please stop using the term “bra burners”, Victoria. You really don’t know what you are talking about.
Victoria is anxious to distance herself from those ugly, makeup-less, sartorially-challenged, unfeminine feminists. So who are those women, those feminists, those “bra burners”, those non-makeup wearing, non-pretty clothes wearing, non-nice shoe wearing women? Zuska senses an ugly, poorly disguised subtext of homophobia underneath all those pretty clothes and makeup that Victoria is sporting. Whether she’s conscious of it or not, that’s the ugliness that goes along with these sorts of stereotypes. Real Girls wear high heels and makeup. Ugly bull dyke women don’t care about their appearance.
I’m going to suggest something for you to ponder, Victoria, and that is: Just because a woman’s not wearing high heels, doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about shoes. Similarly: not wearing makeup? Doesn’t mean she’s indifferent to the topic. Not wearing what YOU call pretty clothing? Most definitely doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about clothes.
You, Victoria, care about shoes and clothes and makeup in one particular manner. There are other ideas and ways of caring about these topics. You seem to believe that there is one, and only one, version of “sexy, feminine” – the one that you understand, the one that involves high heels and your understanding of which clothes are pretty, and the requirement to put makeup on your face.
You think you are liberated, more liberated than the feminists you despise, but you have sadly constrained and limited the possibilities for being feminine and doing science to those that just happen to match up most closely with stereotypical proscribed gender norms. That’s one way of being “sexy, feminine” but it’s hardly the only way.
If you want to talk only to other “girls” who will echo back to you approval for meeting heteronormative gender norms and harboring subconscious homophobia, that’s your prerogative. Good luck with all that. But it’s not nice to be an apologist for the oppressor and beg the feminists for help with your personal needs at the same time.