with this follow-up:
See, one of the lessons I learned early on as a cub was that women have to justify every. got. damn. thing. we do. We’re supposed to come up with some justification for the simplest activities, the basic fabric of our lives. We even have ready-made templates for the pantomimes we’re supposed to engage in. Single mothers (like me) are supposed to apologize for our singleness, explain our singleness, justify our singleness to all and sundry. We’re supposed to promise we didn’t mean it to be this way, that we did everything we could to do avoid that terrible fate, but it just couldn’t be helped. We are supposed to offer up the best made-for-Lifetime-TV movie script of our lives we can muster. Even for strangers. For anyone who questions us. There are pantomimes on just about every female-oriented subject under the sun.
Now, not everyone does this, of course. And even most who do don’t do so in every venue, or on every subject, for every audience. But this is a pattern, and it sure as hell isn’t limited to the feminist blogosphere. Who said we have to do this? How and why did so many women, women from so many different backgrounds, learn to perform what I like to call the Justification Pantomime? I don’t think I’m the only person who’s seen this. I don’t think I’m the only person who’s ever performed a pantomime, either.
And back on the other post—remember the landscapes? How could I have possibly forgotten:
Puritanism—the belief that this world is profane, so we must not enjoy it. We must live lives of self-denial, renounce the pleasures of the physical body and our senses
And that denial of sensuality is key when it comes to dissecting the wherefores and the whys of beauty standards and physical appearance. The desire to be sensual, to feel sensual, to indulge ourselves in the pleasures of sight, of sound, of smell, of taste, of touch—that desire has existed in human beings long before the institution of Sexism. And the burden of this denial disproportionately falls on women. After all, we’re the source of temptation, no? Our sensual desire to bite into the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is what led to the Downfall of humanity, no? Female appetites, whether figurative or literal, are to be controlled...
I’m not aware of any formulae, any means test by which we can tease out just where the sexism ends, and where our natural selves begin. We don’t have much basis for comparison. But I know what my five senses tell me. And I know if I don’t enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like a fresh haircut, or hot food—I ain’t gonna get to enjoy too much. Every choice we make in regards to physical appearance—the collection of small choices, that is—is going to set certain assumptions up in the minds of others. Some right, some wrong, but there’s no avoiding it. Some folks see my short hair and think “dyke”. Some see my short hair and think “fashionable”. To some it says “young”. To others, “old”. It says a whole lotta shit I basically have no control over, because the interpretation lies in the eyes of the viewer. Not with me.
(more at the link, go read)