It’s been a long time since I posted here. I’ve posted a bit on Tumblr, but have been struggling with what to say on WordPress, so here it is.
This blog never had an express purpose, other than a repository for my radical feminist thoughts, but I’ve heard from women that it’s served as a tremendous inspiration for them during their own radfem journey. That’s been really special to hear. since helping other women has always been my Number One Goal and is kind of hard to achieve for someone without many material resources. I’m glad I could do that for some of you, and will try to continue doing so in the future.
At the same time, women have periodically commented on my blog posts to ask if I hated them or thought they were sellouts, less than feminists, unradical, or what have you because they still shave their legs/wear makeup/etc. And I always struggled with how to reply, because while I don’t hate women for doing what they need to do in order to get by, I do think feminine “beauty” rituals are inherently misogynist and that every woman should test the boundaries of her personal chains. I still feel that taking a break from the incessant grind and going as wild as a woman can go is incredibly important for the colonized mind, which each and every one of us is.
The distance we can go, the amount we can return to “ourselves” (or find them for the first time!), and for how long we can remain so will vary from woman to woman. Some of us can run unimpeded into the metaphorical or literal woods and remain there forever in our flannel and denim, while others will have to put their pantyhose back on and reassimilate eventually — but however much discovery we can do is, I believe, essential to nourish our stifled senses of humanity. Having the freedom to experience ourselves as fully human, as much as we can, is something priceless that we can learn from and gives us something to draw from for years and years to come. I cannot stress this enough, and many women who support the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival say the same: even spending a week feeling human can give someone the strength to maintain her humanity for the rest of the year.
Moreover, I believe that in order to support the women who stay free, those of us who can do so have almost a duty to be free as long as we can. Although it seems naive to expect a cultural sea change or even reach a critical mass, any visibility that nonconforming women can achieve is important to counteract the incredible pressure women (especially lesbians!) are put under to either practice femininity or become trans men.
Meanwhile, though? Speaking of that pressure: I’m in a position to appear much more tamed than I did when I was 23 and began writing this blog. My line of work doesn’t have an official dress code, but like pretty much anywhere else, it’s still a male-dominated industry and women are taken more seriously when they toe some kind of line. Since my goal is to establish a professional reputation that I can use to give other women a leg up, I want to be taken seriously — so I now put on a tinted moisturizer, put my hair up, wear eyeliner, and shave my leg- and underarm hair with a pet-grooming trimmer. It’s taken effort to get used to each little colonization. For example, today I am wearing a “proper” bra for the first time in four years (though it still doesn’t have underwire, because fuck that shit) and it feels really weird to have my breasts riding at armpit level. We are definitely not born to do this shit, it isn’t “natural”, it feels weird, and we are a little less free whenever we do it.
But here I am, still doing it. I hope it has some effect when it comes to improving material conditions for me and for the other women whom I can someday help; in the meantime, though, I still feel like I’ve sold you all out. So to finally answer all those comments: I still don’t hate you. I will never hate you. I live in the same world in similar situations, and feel similar pressures. I don’t think it’s the world’s worst thing to give in to some demands in order to get ahead or even just get by. However, if you can get away with something, go as far as you can go with it. Never take that for granted, and try to help others do the same thing.
For now, all I can offer is advice. Drug-store-brand eyeliner works just fine, comes in many colors, can double as eyeshadow and brow-liner, and costs a dollar. “Big” bushy eyebrows are back in fashion right now, so fuck the haters. If you have mid-length or long hair, a bun or basic braided updo involves minimal effort and looks good on pretty much anyone. Animal-grooming clippers cost around ten bucks for palm-sized models, work really well for trimming body hair without giving you razor burn, and can also give you a sick undercut or touch up any length of hairdo once you get really good at handling them. Flat shoes are always appropriate, no matter what the fashion magazines say; try looking on eBay or at thrift stores for good-old-fashioned loafers or Chelsea boots. If anyone calls you ugly, laugh in their face if you’re bold enough, or walk away if you’re not. If they’re dumb enough to say that in writing, photograph or screen-cap that shit and publish it online. You look fine and everyone needs to mind their own bullshit, especially if they’re men.
Just keep your heart wild. Never let the bastards cage you inside. Someday we’re coming for to let you out. In the meantime, we’re all gonna do what we can.