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bear by san

March 2017

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spies sandbaggers sense of occasion

armchair warriors often fail and we've been poisoned by these fairytales

I have a problem with metrics. Specifically, I have a problem with women being judged "feminist enough" by how they act, in literature as in life.

Which is to say: There is a metric by which female characters may be judged as adequate to the sisterhood or not, and I, personally, find it repulsive. I find it repulsive when applied to real women, too, but I'm here as a writer, so as a writer let me rant.

Which is to say--there's a complex standard for women in fiction. If they're not "womanly" enough, they may be adjudged "men with tits." Or, you know, in a much more valid critique, they may be adjudged persons who do not do any of the maintenance work by which society is, well, maintained. (In a fair world, the adjudger also notes if the men do this stuff, or if they just faff about worldsaving and never have to hold down a day job or take out the trash?***) If they are too "womanly,"* then they are insufficiently feminist.

Yanno? In real life? I know feminists who knit, sew, costume, interior design, wipe baby's asses, clean, and crochet doilies. Many of them also write books, perform research, and run companies. These are human tasks, not women's tasks or men's tasks.

(One of the characters of my own who I consider most personifying a strong woman is an accomplished huswif. She's also a mother and a wife and a consummate manipulator. I don't like her much, mind you, but she's one tough broad.)

My only traditionally feminine skill is cooking, but that's because I was raised by lesbians**. It also means I didn't learn about the baby powder on your thighs in summer trick until I was 21.

I was fucking deprived, man.

The moral of the story?

Write people, man. Not political theories.


* Where, by womanly, we mean--homemaking, comforting, nurturing, etc

**I know at least two lesbians who knit

***Aaron Hotchner takes out the trash. That is why he is The Man.

Comments

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As far as I can tell, knitting is a big trend among Vancouver lesbians. At least four or five of the woman in my choir knit and crochet -- that's the Vancouver Lesbian and Gay Choir. One of the men does too.
Neither.

I'm fucking useless.

At least I can cook.
Because if one is wearing a skirt without hose, it prevents heat rash and chafing on one's inner thighs.

Which is of the good.
Aaron Hotchner takes out the trash. That is why he is The Man.

Yes, yes he is. =)
Seriously.

I would marry that man.
Yes. Like that.
Dear heart, please don't take this the wrong way, but you are probably singlehandedly responsible for more young women growing up warriors than anyone else I am ever likely to personally meet.

Or, in othwr words. Hush yo mouth. You doing fine.
Knitting these days seems to have been judged an acceptable activity for feminists. Raising children, on the other hand, is still deeply suspect.
...then where is one supposed to get the little feminists?

I understand not.
I occasionally suspect I am the only woman of my age I've ever met who doesn't knit.

I'm not sure if this means that it's becoming accepted as a "human task" or just that we're all Daughters of Feminists or what. In any case, I suck at all things domestic and/or craft-based or requiring decent hand-eye coordination, so I have no plans to take it up.

(I mostly feel inclined to cook when I'm being dissertation-avoidant. Not sure what that says either.)
...I also suck at formatting. D'oh.
Knitting rules!

There is always someone to say we aren't feminine enough or too feminine (at the same time)

But when the Way to enlightenment or empowerment is presented over & over in individual (female) self improvement by dieting and housecleaning I do get suspicious when that same message ends up in my fiction!

Individual feminine self-improvement by housecleaning? NO!!!!! People doing stuff that needs doing? Yes.

There's gotta be a way.
So, hypothetically as a writer, I sometimes worry about making my characters more feminist--i.e. make them strong, confident women 'cause, yeah! That's awesome! Or...something like that. XD (Again, this is all hypothetical).

Less hypothetical, I have wondered about this in my poetry a bit; but, it is mostly internal, and the feminism has popped up once or twice, so...*shrug*

As a reader, I am reminded of "Like Water For Chocolate": the characters are all most definitely feminine, in that their lives revolve around both housework and (to a certain extent) men. But I think that novel is most definitely feminist: these women support themselves without the help of men. And how does it make one less of a feminist to be concerned over the love of a man, anymore than if it were over the love of another woman? Or, less romantically, over the love of a parent? Love is such a huge theme, it doesn't matter who it's over, it matters how it's presented. If it is a love where she is oppressed or subjugated or otherwise not treated as an equal--yeah, that would be unfeminist.

I'm sorry; I am not dictating myself very well. XD
Good points and it is interesting how it is often women policing other women. So reminiscent of the left wing politics I used to get involved with - arguing with each other over minutiae of dogma. And while the women are arguing with each other about who is the most feminist and exactly the right way to do it, nothing gets changed.

Of course feminists can knit. Except this one. But that is due to cack-handedness.

It is also interesting to think about strength and what it really means. Is a strong woman the one who fights dragons and who lives alone? Or is she the one who wipes snotty noses and kisses poorly knees better?

Or is she both?

And truly strong people are not afraid to cry either - men or women. (hey, chance to use weepy icon again!)

(I never learned the baby powder trick, but I have never needed it. British summers are not noted for their heat)
On the other hand, they can be noted for their mugginess, with which baby powder helps a treat.

Not sure why I'm discussing talcum powder rather than the interesting stuff here, though, except that my brain doesn't seem to be working today. I think I caught a cold when I got soaked in the rain the other day. Three cheers for the Summer...
Specifically, I have a problem with women being judged "feminist enough" by how they act, in literature as in life.

Obviously, this is because you are not feminist enough. [pokes bear]

Write people, man. Not political theories.

If more people understood this, we might have a greatly reduced amount of shit poetry in the world.

[...which means it's a losing battle, I think.]
I never have been, really. Which I find a little startling, as I am pretty darn feminist.
Thanks for this - I confess I tend to steer clear of feminist groups and such because I often find my views and theirs diverge greatly on what it means to be a feminist. In my mind, the whole point of feminism is so women can choose, and not have their worth be more or less based on those choices. A housewife has just as much value as the CEO who burns water.

In my writing, I have enough to worry about with just getting the story down - if I started worrying about theory and feminism and all of that, I'd be in trouble.

"Write people." That's a succinct and beautiful way of putting it.
Well, and that's me, too. I've been around feminists and feminism since the mid-70s and at times I get highly annoyed by the demand to be frickin pure about it.

What can I say? Some people just are control freaks, and gender plays no role in that.
Suprisingly, as I knit, I discover there are some straight who do as well, but then again, not too many.

But if I was a character in a book, I'd never be convincing.
Very interesting thread. (Why did I just type 'threat'? Hmmm....)

I'm lucky enough to be married to a man who takes out the trash, but I've yet to find one, even in a book, who volunteers to clean the bathroom.

(waves hand) I have one of those!

No, he's *mine.*
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