Man-Cleanse [TM] !

This time of year, people in many countries tend to celebrate (whether by choice or by cultural compulsion) a series of pagan holidays that have been appropriated and significantly diluted from their source material.
In honor of this consumer-driven season of imposed cheer, many of us get a break from our daily obligations, like work or school. Many of us are forced into uncomfortable proximity with people we don’t necessarily like, such as some family members; many of us also strain under extra financial and social pressure. So it can quite be a stressful season. Because of all of these facts and more, it’s the perfect time of year to give oneself the gift of a Man Cleanse [TM].

(Man Cleanse is obviously not trademarked. No company would ever be foolish enough to take such an idea on, as it’s the antithesis to modern gender roles, and modern gender roles are the foundation upon which at least half of the global GDP is based. Can you imagine how much money powerful men would lose if more women threw off their shackles for the holiday season?! No, I’m just using the [TM] designation as humor.)

The goal of Man Cleanse is pretty simple, but proves difficult for so many women — especially women who have jobs and/or consider themselves heterosexual. It is the elimination of as much toxic patriarchal male baggage as possible.

So I encourage anyone to try this, at any time, but especially now. Here’s some suggestions.

Stop shaving. Or waxing or plucking. Anything. If you feel that a boss or parent or Nigel will complain about the weeks’ worth of stubble on your terrifying legs or underarms, the weather is cold (if you live in the northern hemisphere); try wearing sleeved shirts, trousers, tights if your work mandates skirts (I live in tights for most of the winter, as they add a layer of warmth beneath my clothes, and I refuse to wear anything that’s uncomfortable, so contact me if you want recommendations), and/or socks. Also, if you can, tell these people to fuck off and mind their own business. If you can afford a lawyer or can find a good public-defense attorney, a lawsuit is an excellent holiday present for your sexually-harassing employer. And a well-timed stinkeye will probably suffice for a relative.
If you must, claim that you are too tired from holiday stress to shave your legs, and ask why these people care anyway. But really, stand by your feminist principles if you can.

Eschew makeup. That shit causes cancer, and except in cases of people whose job is to be artificial (such as those who are paid to be in front of a camera), your face doesn’t really look that different without it. The wind and cold can give you a nice ruddy glow if you want one. Chapstick does a nice job on lips. Etc.
Again, plead holiday stress if anyone asks you, but if anyone asks you, remember that they are a fucking asshole.

Leave the heels at home. Preferably packed in a box. Who wants to risk tendon injury, frostbite from inadequate foot coverage, or a slip-and-fall in adverse weather conditions? Again, anyone who begrudges you this lack of concession to femininity is a dickhead.
If you feel very un-glam in flats at holiday parties, remember that anyone who’s studying your feet is a shallow asshole. Claim injury if you must publicly validate your choice in footwear.

Don’t worry how you look. You are a human being, and you look like one, which is great.

Evidently, one of the biggest reasons het or bi women stand by their femininity practices is that they want to remain in good standing with men. Which leads to the next step:

Stop giving a shit about men. Whether it’s your father, your brother, your uncle, your grandfather, your Nigel, a potential Nigel, an in-law, or whatever, he’s not worth your time if you can’t act like a genuine human being around him.
That goes the same for Aunty Anns, women who will judge your appearance and behavior and sell you out to men. They are only parroting the patriarchy anyway, and they do not deserve your time either.

If anyone gives you shit for kicking back and being a regular person at the holidays, they are double the assholes. Nobody ever goes up to Nigel and Uncle Perv to say, “Excuse me, but could you get your nasty asses together and be pretty instead of flopping like carcasses in front of the game all weekend?” (Although they should get up off their asses, just not to be pretty.) So don’t put up with that shit yourself.

Stop putting up with shit. Nigel won’t stop watching porn? Brother won’t stop committing various indiscretions with a woman ten or more years his junior? Uncle won’t stop making ‘ironic’ racist jokes? Father won’t stop pretending like he was Father of the Year, Every Year, when in reality he jerked your mother around for decades (possibly even still to this day)?
Then stop being nice to them. You don’t need to go apeshit and tee-pee their cars (although if you do, send me pictures) or get into all-out screaming matches (although that would also be hardcore and I would give you as much support as possible through this blog platform), but at the very least, stop enabling. Stop trying to keep the peace by acting like you think this bullshit is all right. Even a subtle tuning-out, a turning of the head, an expression, can communicate wonders and it will make you feel better at the least.

Go from there. Spend the holiday weekend in sweat pants. Refuse to do the cleanup and encourage female family members to do the same. Shit, you can even stop brushing your hair! (Secret: I haven’t even used shampoo on mine for two months, and no one can tell.) Take time to explore how it feels to not maintain your appearance. Depending on the amount that you are marinated in patriarchy (as we all are), this can be easy or hard, but regardless, please feel no guilt.
As long as you’re on a roll, tell Cousin Lech what you really think, to his face. Write a sarcastic letter to a former Nigel and burn it — or, if you know he won’t come after you, send it. Spend time with female relatives, to the exclusion of males; if these relatives are younger, encourage their creativity and teach them how to do something interesting with their time. Give your sister a copy of Gyn/Ecology and tell her to call you whenever she wants. Give yourself the gift of a new skill, like learning how to fix parts of your car or house or bike, or exploring an art form (like music or drawing) you’ve always wanted to try but were told you weren’t good at, or just turning on music and dancing alone in your house with the knowledge that nobody is watching.

Take whatever steps you need; even small steps are still moving forward.

Why is this important? you may ask. Joy, seriously, why do you care? Is it such a big deal that I shave my legs? I mean, I know you don’t, but whatever, you don’t have a Nigel! Also, cultural conditioning has done a number on me, so I feel so fucking ugly without my makeup — and I know you just don’t understand because you hate everyone and don’t give a shit about men and maybe are a lesbian and besides, you have awesome bone structure anyway so you never had to worry about any of this. Plus, I don’t give a fuck about shit like art and you know it.

In the grander scheme of patriarchy, individual actions don’t really matter, but at the same time, they do. Every time we submit, every time we conform, we are reinforcing the submission and conformity. Even in small, subtle actions like shaving our legs, or dyeing the grey out of our hair, or hiding our true feelings, or neglecting to pick up the pencil to just write without caring what anyone thinks.

Every time we do these things, a bit of ourselves dies. That might sound melodramatic, but it’s true: the more we strangle ourselves, the more we wither, and the further we stay closed off from an authentic aspect of ourselves as human beings.

In case you were wondering, an ex-Nigel once told me what femininity behaviors were really all about.

“I don’t really care if you shave or do makeup or not. I just want to know that you’ll do something for me. It gives me a little rush.”

So stop giving props to the patriarchy, and give yourself the gift of saying fuck, no. If it gets too uncomfortable, you can always go back to compliance. But you might find that rebellion is a really good feeling, and you can sneak small actions in under the radar. Besides, every time you do, it gets easier for some other woman to do the same thing.

PS: This patriarchal behavior bullshit is not your fault. It is not our fault, as women, either. I’m not blaming you, or me, or us. We didn’t get ourselves into this situation. But as much as possible, even a tiny little bit at a time, we need to get out.

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About @trees

Thrillseeking female. Indie music shaman. Will almost certainly Like your cat pix.
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13 Responses to Man-Cleanse [TM] !

  1. Daisy C. Turtle says:

    i really LOVE this post- thank you!

  2. Mary Sunshine says:

    What a treat! 😛 Thank you.

  3. Sargasso Sea says:

    Man-Cleanse™ has been working for me for over 20 years! It’s worked so well in fact that I don’t even SEE males anymore!*

    I highly recommend Man-Cleanse™ to all my friends! 🙂

    (*actually, I can see males but only when I feel like it or it really can’t be helped.)

  4. joy says:

    Daisy and Mary — glad we’re all here!

  5. Dana says:

    You know, it’s not even the grooming thing. The grooming thing is fine. The PROBLEM here is that women are expected to groom *and men are not.* Or, in some cases, we are expected to do *so much more* grooming than men are expected to do. There’s nothing wrong with prettying yourself up. But men won’t do it; they say it’s feminine behavior, then they insult one another by calling one another ladies. The message is crystal-clear.

    In several American Indian tribes it wasn’t just women practicing hair removal. The men did too. With tweezers that were basically clam shells. Both men and women did their hair; both men and women wore jewelry and fancy dress; sometimes both men and women wore makeup (though more often men). But then in those cultures they more often than not cared what the women thought and gave them an equitable place in the culture (if everyone wasn’t doing the same things, at least all the things done mattered the same) and even in government. Telling. So these things *do* go together, it would seem.

    • joy says:

      Tweezing with clam shells — OUCH.

      I agree that it would be at least a little more honest if men did grooming too. Especially when they go on and on about how pubic hair is “unhygienic”, body hair is “gross” or “unnatural”, and “vagina” smells “awful.” (Smelled ballsack lately?!)

      But the standards we have of “prettiness” are definitely culturally imposed. I grew up mostly without TV, and entirely without cable or internet, so I actually think full makeup and plucked eyebrows make people’s faces look scary. (A childhood babysitter was VERY invested in ‘doing her face’, and when I first met her, I screamed, cried, and hid from her. She never got over that.)
      The ever-growing trend towards women dyeing, plucking, waxing, and painting themselves to even greater extremes is very off-putting. The babysitter I mention above was a woman of the 1980s, and makeup standards have escalated a lot since then. Society seems to want modern women to look like characters in Jersey Shore, and it doesn’t seem to make sense except in a framework of selling us stuff.
      It makes human beings into something extremely plastic, extremely unnatural, and extremely impossible to maintain without constant attention. It often strays into what cinema critics call “the uncanny valley” — something that our brains recognize is supposed to be human, but that we can’t entirely understand and in fact find rather horrifying. That’s how I feel when I see someone who’s been airbrushed (whether in a photo or in real life), dyed, plucked, lifted, and firmed — be they male or female. But of course it’s usually females, and that sucks; imagine all those toxic chemicals, all that wasted time, all that terrible gnawing insecurity imposed upon our sex by agents of the patriarchy.

      I know some people for whom “prettying up” means “putting small animal bones in or weaving ribbons through their rat-nest hair.” So I definitely think it’s all relative.

      A lot of people tell me (and people like me), “You’d be so pretty if you just put in more effort.” I think, “You’d be so attractive if you put in less.”

  6. Holly says:

    I’ve never been here before, but consider me subscribed. Bravo.

  7. C-ram says:

    Im a heteromale – the ManCleanse and article are great. i cant tell you how many times Ive lost a woman by the mention that they dont have to do any of those

  8. misandry says:

    As a woman who has been getting back to the radical feminist identity that she would slip from on and off, I’ve decided to dedicate myself to opposing the standards of beauty and not giving a fuck what men think, among other things that radical feminism has taught me to liberate myself from. There are plenty of things about me that are the opposite of standardized beauty and all of those have been SO liberating. I’m 22 and when I was 18 I officially stopped doing anything to my hair. My hair got matted and ratty and I felt liberated. Now I only brush my hair out once a week to stop my knotted hair from getting tangled in everything. So I’m glad to hear you are doing the same! The past six weeks I stopped shaving my armpit hair and I feel so liberated. I want to stop shaving the rest of my body hair so I’m forcing myself to stop.

    I have never felt liberated when obeying the “feminine beauty” fascism. I only felt like a “hot sexy” conformist and that’s disgusting. After being raped a few years ago by some ex boyfriend liberal scum, I chose to look as ugly as possible to men because I couldn’t handle having them look at me or wanting to have sex with me. After a year or two I got more comfortable with being moderately feminine and still hated men lusting after me but got used to it and started liking a little bit of it EW! I’ve learned that society is pushing women into the patriarchal cock stench when they say “once you feel healed from rape, you can love men again and you can feel comfortable being sexy again.” But the truth is rape survivors are right when we say we don’t want to be feminine and attract men. We’re right when we say we’re safer with women and being lesbians.

    Oh, and the only make up I wear is eyeliner but lately I hardly ever wear it, might as well ditch the damn shit. This post was great, thanks for the extra motivation I need to commit myself to warding off those useless men! ::hairy hugs::

    P.S. radical natural vagina appearance > patriarchal cock stench

  9. joy says:

    If it matters, I think I like you already.

    This is not even close to the response this comment deserves (I’m in a hurry again) — but know that you have thumbs up from the Lesbonaut. (I’m 25, by the way, and have also been noncompliant for my entire life — although also with short, always very short, pitstops in conformity. Just long enough to realize that it sucked.)

    I’ve been writing a post about rape survivorship/victimhood (I feel that ‘victim’, like ‘radical’, is not the dirty word people seem to think it is), so that part of your comment especially resonated as well. To be honest, I haven’t felt strong enough to post my take on it yet, but maybe this will be what it takes to make it happen.

    Also, “cockstench”? Love it. Will drop it into conversation whenever appropriate.

    Glad to have each and every one of you aboard.

  10. misandry says:

    Aw thank you I have a few happy tears 🙂 Like I said, I’ve realized that a lot of the things I’ve done in life were “funfeminism” even though I always hated funfeminism. I wish I didn’t do so many degrading things to please men. But a lot of it had to do with my rapes and sexual assaults. I’ve been depressed because of coming to terms once again with how a lot of my choices were because of trying to numb and dissociate from the trauma, and mania from bipolar disorder made me do things too. Feminism really is the only thing that’s made me feel liberated and supported. I noticed that all the little things I’ve been doing with moderate feminine conventions and all the “sexiness” I’ve been enjoying is too much hard work even though I wasn’t even near the fake plastic look. It’s so much easier to not care about feminine fashion and to not try to be one of the guys. I can’t stand most men, why the fuck did I feel for most of my life that I related more to men than to women? I only like a few men, the ones who are my best friends, but other than that I’m going to avoid most men and avoid their stupid dude behavior and their selfish support of pornography.

    By the way I LOVE how you said men complain about vaginas smelling bad and you said “have you ever smelled ball sack?” LOL that’s always what I tell guys! Sweaty dicks and balls don’t smell like lavender and vanilla, self absorbed dudes. THEY SMELL LIKE COCK STENCH!

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