...off this post at Bitch Lab, which in turn is responding to a post at Feministe, and is part of a bigger, ongoing (eternal?) discussion all over the place: not just the Sex Wars, now, but the Beauty Wars. also passing reference to Tekanji's excellent take on the bogosity of the term "choice feminism."
Anyway, what I said there was, this discussion is beginning to
...[crystallize] for me just why “choice feminism” is so deeply annoying, especially coming out of the mouths of the likes of TF: it's actually being used as a way to bash “sex-positive,” (which here turns out to be women who overindulge in the sins of the patriarchy-defined flesh) again, among other things.
and then what happens is, some people find themselves defending themselves against this straw-image of themselves, and in doing so, will, perhaps inevitably, allude to, yes, all right, I wear high heels, I -like- heels, what’s your damn problem?!
…because there’s the class thing, yes; but all entangled with it is the neo-puritan quasi-radfem crap, hairshirt feminism, you know. people like g-m-r throwing “classism” at people like Vanessa whilst leaving TF the Revolutionary Restaurant Critic untouched doesn’t help, of course.
…but of course in the minds of the people who’ve been just, finally, fed up with the whole damn thing, hello, more burning issues on my own personal agenda here? just end up mentally lumping -anyone- who ever talks about this stuff in -any- context. shut UP about your damn heels. shut UP about -choice.- SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP…
which in some -other- peoples’ minds can (maybe) make it look like, o okay, these people are attacking me because they agree with TF and g-m-r. (for example).
the real problem here is the disingenuousness of the people who’ve been framing it this way in the first place.
I mean, in addition to the class-unconsciousness, yes. Which is a big ol' problem all by itself. No doubt.
But it’d be a lot simpler to address this part (look, some of us don’t -have- $100 for flats -or- heels) without the complicating factor of, here’s a handful of people who have no problem hurling around terms like “classism” and accusations of frivolousness and yadda yadda as it suits -their- needs, i.e., actually it’s about their -own- notion of “patriarchy,” and has jackshit to do with class in the -real- sense.
but so what happens -now- is, they’ve just reinforced the idea that "feminism" must needs be either hairshirt (androgynous?) grimness or “fun."
And further, "fun feminism" always is 1) femme, in the mainstream, het sense 2) trite, shallow (as femmes are often stereotyped as being anyway, of course), 3) heavily, unthinkingly consumer-materialist, and 4) -has to cost a lot of money.-
One or the other. Tastes great! Less filling!
iow, reinforced the very media stereotypes we're supposedly all so exasperated with in the damn first place.
(“false dilemma” is another of those logical fallacies that doesn’t get used nearly enough; everyone always knows “strawman” and nothing else, seems like, sometimes...)
…and ironically enough even that kind of selective “hairshirt” feminism is actually classist itself, or can be. In the sense that you’ve talked about, BL: how “raunch culture”-baiting often=”slut-bashing,” and, of course sexbot–>slut–>”slattern”–> low-class, trashy. (I also talked about this connection in more detail here).
But we see this more clearly once we start getting into Linda Hirschman, Ann Althouse, even Daily Mail territory. These are hardly one's stereotype of hairy-legged man-hating anti-fun feminists, after all; hell, in the latter two, most people wouldn't even make the connection of them being "feminist" at all. And yet, again: there's a reason why TF was quoting that reactionary anti-Spice Girls article approvingly: this isn't "radical" at all, turns out. And it's a very particular sort of feminism, at best, if indeed it's feminism at all, when it comes to this shit, because it actually ends up reinforcing a very ancient set of shibboleths indeed, albeit perhaps inadvertently.
Anyway, tying it all back together: this is of course what “looking professional” (and to a lesser extent, looking “presentable” on the street in a mainstream sort of way) is all about. Keeping up appearances. These days, what this means for women is: look “feminine,” maybe sexually attractive (to men, mainstream)…but at the same time, not too SEXUAL. Which also means “white” (or as close as you can approximate); “upper class” (or as close as you can approximate), and so on, and so on. Things like “bad hair” and “fat” as well as too-short skirts, too much makeup signal not just "helpless, easily accessible" but also “wild, out of control, corporeal. "Of the body." which is the “low-class;” which is the animalistic; which is the "bimbo;" which is the “slut.” ("sexbot"="bimbo 2.0" as far as I'm concerned). And all of which gets even more weighted for people who don't "naturally" match the "upper" physical ideal: skin too dark, features too non-Euro, hair too kinky, breasts too big, too much flesh in general...
So then you get people like TF uncritically bashing just -one- aspect of this “look,” the most overt expression of the “low,” I guess (i.e. "sexbot"); and first of all, while claiming to be against “choice” feminism (as in, you may think you have one, but you don’t really, muhahaha, the Patriarchy uber alles!), first of all, for all practical purposes this actually doesn’t really blame the System, but rather ends up putting the onus squarely back on the women who sport this “look.”
More to the point here: everything else goes completely unchallenged. Hell, when’s the last time TF even talked about what looking too “butch” does for a woman trying to get ahead? because that, too, is tagged “low-class,” albeit in a different way. manual labor, now: again, it comes back to the body. and of course: DYKE.
but I mean: the only white women I ever see working behind a fast-food counter, here in NY at least, are extremely butch-looking women. Coincidence? shrug.
and then, too: when’s the last time TF, or Sheila Jeffreys,--or hello, Linda Hirschman, she's the author of the "choice feminist" business in the first place, turns out--had anything critical to say about the pressure to wear a navy suit and pearls? and what that signifies?
Serious question, not just rhetorical; not having read the full body of any of 'em I can't swear they never have; just, not to my recollection, I don't see this being addressed much among...certain factions. Blowjobs, "breeding" and bimbos: these are apparently the only boxes which women (all women, all 3,645,900,701 of us, especially the one with the ingrown toenail) are pressured to fit into. The way out is...what? The opposite of all that? pure and simple y punto? Or endless self-(and other)-"criticism" sessions that ultimately go nowhere? Yeah: how's that one working out, again?