Saturday, August 18, 2012

Do Ultra Feminine Women Lead Horrible Lives: Part II

Well some comments about Part I made me look for more information so I had to make another post about it.  Reading these four articles has been so beneficial for me. It just affirms that my thinking does make sense and those who are so opposed to feminine traits and appearance just don't think the same way I do or have not been exposed to the same ideas. As I have said in previous posts, I disagree with modern feminists about many things but I know they have done many beneficial things too. I am so happy that I've finally learned about the pro-woman line of feminism!

1) Makeup, oppression and being yourself : Notice she says wearing makeup to impress a guy is a "wrong reason" to wear it. But isn't it more empowering to entice the men you want (by making yourself highly attractive) rather than just expecting them to magically sense you are better than the other women around? This is an indirect and feminine way to start relationships. Some feminists endorse the masculine and direct way of approaching men yet they look down on the indirect way! Asking guys out is unnatural and unpleasant for most women yet they encourage this! Yes, take on the burden of pursuing men and you are fighting patriarchy but if you get your hair done and wear lipstick you are a slave to patriarchy...right...

2) The pro-woman line: Wow I totally agree with this part "The Pro-Woman Line sought to explain contradictory behavior. For example, feminists applied it to makeup and other beauty standards. The "anti-woman" argument was that women participate in their own oppression by wearing makeup, uncomfortable clothes, girdles, or high-heeled shoes. The Pro-Woman Line said that women are not at fault; they just do what they need to do in a world that creates impossible beauty standards. If women are treated better when they wear makeup, and are told they look sick when not wearing makeup, a woman who wears makeup to work does not create her own oppression. She is doing what society requires of her to succeed." Basically that whole underlined part is a key reason why I want to become an elegant Black woman; because I like it, I think it's better, and it will help me succeed in getting what I want out of life!

3) Excerpt from (very good read!):  Regarding the pro-woman line, "We don't believe that women are brainwashed or conditioned, or that we oppress ourselves. Rather, we do what we have to do to get by in a world that is still run by and dominated by men. Wearing make up, acting flirty, even getting plastic surgery or botox—all are the result of our oppression, and a way of coping with it, not the cause. We don't put on make-up because we feel compelled to due to advertising, but rather because we are treated better when we do. We get compliments and attention—and when we don't wear make-up people tell us we look tired or sick. Beauty magazines don’t brainwash us into dieting, dressing up, or making up—rather, they are how-to manuals on getting by, getting love and getting jobs under male supremacy...The other side to the Pro-Woman line is that despite everything, women are always fighting back and resisting in some area of their lives. We don’t mindlessly submit to the demands of male supremacy. We women fight back all the time—just not on everything, and often not together in a coordinated, organized way. "

4) The personal is political (BEST THING EVER!): "'There are no personal solutions at this time. There is only collective action for a collective solution.' Again this is pretty challenging. It proposes that women cannot really change their situations on their own and indeed, they should not try to do so if it would put them at risk – “when they can’t win and the repercussions are worse than the oppression.” The only way to effect real change is to work collectively. An individual woman deciding to stop wearing makeup might be living up to her own feminist principles so good for her, but it will not change anything, or improve matters for women who are in situations in which it is not possible to stop wearing makeup because they might lose their jobs or be made more miserable in some way. The only possible solution then is to work with other women, which is never easy." I cosign 100%!!!!

"Hanisch firmly rejects the idea that women who are in the movement, feminists we might now call them, necessarily know better than women who are not in the movement. Indeed, it’s very important that “we” should listen to “them” because they probably have damn good reasons for not being in the movement. Then instead of asking ourselves what is wrong with women who don’t want to be feminists, we should think about what might be wrong with our own thinking and actions; otherwise we will fail."

This is really blowing my mind because I totally agree with this! Basically this is what The New Elegant Black Woman is all about. It's about my dissatisfaction with my life and the fact that I was not getting what I wanted so I needed to change something to make it better. I am all about participating in the system, learning the rules, playing the game, and trying to win even when others want or expect you to fail. In my opinion I was doing some traditionally masculine things to get by and succeed (e.g., becoming educated, working, not having children alone and staying home) but other non-feminine things were not helping me (e.g., not smiling, being argumentative for no reason, looking androgynous, devaluing useful feminine things like cooking). So I started reading and trying new things so I could come up with my own "how-to manual that would help me to get by, get love, and get jobs under male supremacy!" What I kept reading over and over was that my femininity and feminine energy was necessary to get what I wanted (I knew I was clueless about it) so I chose to embrace that while still going to school and working. I needed to get rid of some behaviours and change some things about my appearance while keeping other things and adding new things. 

I only have one life and I want to succeed and be happy for as much of the time as possible. I have not chosen to devote my life to fighting for a cause through my behaviour or dress so instead I am focusing on coping and succeeding with my available resources (I may support a cause later on but not through my appearance or comportment). My succeeding at becoming highly educated, working in a previously male-dominated field, not being the dependent property of a man, and having my own opinions are all ways that I fight because in the past women were barred from doing any of that! My success will inspire other women and show them that they can succeed even in a patriarchal society and the more of us who succeed the better things will be for women. Furthermore, by becoming successful by society-approved means that may actually give women power (e.g., buying power, political influence, entrance into decision-making institutions). I encourage those who do not want to be activists and have minimal resources to not spend their lives fighting (often in vain) to change society. Seriously, why does someone struggling each day to get by need to carry the burden of changing society? That is the responsibility of those who's basic needs are satisfied and can carry that burden. These people will change society through political action and that requires power. So for many Black women, instead of trying to fulfill certain anti-woman feminist mandates that could actually harm them (e.g., acting and looking like men), they may be better off taking the pro-woman line, coping, and trying to succeed using available resources (e.g., education, birth control, using tried-and-true relationship advice etc.). 

This is a very thought provoking video. It is pretty overwhelming and I am just left with the question 'What I can I possibly do about this?' I don't think making myself look less attractive, dressing like a man, being more aggressive, going into a masculine field I don't like, or abandoning my manners will change any of this. So why not stop pestering women about those things? They are not the important issues! They are only things that individual women do to cope and achieve what they need and want in life! They are not responsible or the cause of their oppression! I don't want to hear one more word about a woman doing something and that action "setting women back 100 years."

I think these problems can only be changed by using power and only so many people in society have it. Individuals however can have some power when voting. They may also have power by influencing those around them, sometimes just by having others observe their behaviour and success. I may eventually develop some power because of my career (that was only possible due to my education). Others have power to influence because of their celebrity, some use it for good like in the video, but others use it to harm (e.g., misogynistic rap music). I think that those without power should only be responsible for protecting themselves and taking care of their basic needs not saving all women or fixing society.

I am not advocating apathy but what I am saying is that some people (e.g., with power who have all of their basic needs met) can get away with protesting, trying to fight the system, and going against the norm but for those without power the consequences may be devastating. I suppose those who are in most desperate need and the most oppressed are more willing to risk everything for change, I just don't think they should have to because it costs them so much. Can the homeless man on the street really fight poverty? Can a child really fight child abuse? Can a deathly ill person really fight for better health care? How can they? They have so much to cope with or so little power already how can they be burdened with fighting for causes? I hope you understand what I'm saying. So should poor, disadvantaged Black women be burdened with saving women or Black people...I think not.

Related Articles:
The clothes make the man, the woman, and the slave (Sad slideshow. Female slaves were sometimes punished by having their hair cut and having to wear masculine clothing, goes on to worse things)
How do I look? Thoughts on feminism and white middle-class femininity (very interesting!)
The Happy Feminist discussion about feminine appearance: Interesting questions raised. This stood out for me, "The irony for a lot of women is that people keep making a big deal about how you look, but then if you become concerned about how you look (in response to these reactions), you are considered a typical representative of the frivolity and vanity of your sex."
Confessions of a fun feminist (interesting because it highlights the reason why many women don't want to be labeled "feminists" is because they want to do as they please and not be restricted to looking and behaving in feminist-approved ways. This is also similar to the reason why some Black women want to give up their "Black cards", too many restrictions and obligations that may actually harm the individual)
Lipstick, waxing, and heels- oppression or choice?
Do high heels empower or oppress women?
How traditional feminism is oppressive to women
Is fashion empowering or oppressive?
Ladettes, liquor, and being lady-like, Article 1, Article 2, Ladette Video (This is the type of behaviour I'm talking about that some call "progress" because they are acting like men, but they are choosing detrimental or trivial activities to emulate. This is not helpful and should not be the goal of equality).


  1. I loved this part:

    "I encourage those who do not want to be activists and have minimal resources to not spend their lives fighting (often in vain) to change society. Seriously, why does someone struggling each day to get by need to carry the burden of changing society? That is the responsibility of those who's basic needs are satisfied and can carry that burden. These people will change society through political action and that requires power. So for many Black women, instead of trying to fulfill certain anti-woman feminist mandates that could actually harm them (e.g., acting and looking like men), they may be better off taking the pro-woman line, coping, and trying to succeed using available resources (e.g., education, birth control, using tried-and-true relationship advice etc.)."

    This reminds me of all the conversations I've had with my parents about my education. I know my Nigerian parents are not the only parents who are blunt about the fact that that they did not want their children, especially their daughters, choosing majors or jobs where they would be drained and essentially burn out "fighting the man" or whatever cause they were suppose to take up on some other group's behalf. The message was always to focus on our advancement and help out your family when you can.

    Black women could stand to be A LOT more selfish and really focus on what is going to lift them up individually. We need to stop trying to help the masses, folks who wouldn't even spit on you if you were on fire, and start investing in yourself (losing weight and becoming more active, reading books, getting a quality education, attending finishing school or taking etiquette classes, moving to safer neighborhoods, positioning yourself to meet quality men, etc).

  2. I love this post (part 1 and 2) and I agree with you and with the commenter above. Black women must stop trying to fight battles when we barely have anything. It's just too taxing on our bodies, minds, and souls, and leaves us no better than we started out... if not worse

  3. There is a reason why I was never really the strong career type, even when I felt that I should pursue a high earning job. There is always a pressure on a lot of black women to be independent and to go after high stressed jobs.
    But I knew that it wasn't for me because it's not my personality. Some of my friends and family are supportive of me with whatever I decide to do, but I still have some friends and family members who are confused as to why I would still go after jobs like waitress or receptionist.
    One time I was working at a restaurant chain and I was in training to become a manager. It was so stressful having to deal with all the responsibilities. I hated it and wanted to quit, but I kept on going because I didn't want to disappoint anyone.

    In the end the pressure was too much for me so I quit and went back to my old job as a nail tech in a salon. Boy everyone was so mad. They couldn't understand why I would do such a thing. But I kept on doing nails because it was easy and I prefer jobs where I can relax and be myself. When I met my now fiance, it was easy for me to quit my job and move to Panama to live with him. If I had a demanding stressful career I wouldn't have been able to do that because with jobs like that comes great responsibility and obligations.

    I now work part time at a call centre and I love it. My fiance is wealthy so I never have to worry about money. He takes good care of me. My friends don't understand how I came to find such a gem like my fiance. They are still pursuing careers and promotions etc, but they are single and unhappy. One of my gf is going through a divorce after only 3 years of marriage because she placed her career above her own happiness. Her husband wanted kids but she wasn't interested because she was too busy with her career.Now she's even more stressed out and she gained at least 30 lbs. I mean if having a demanding and stressful career makes some women happy then fine, I respect that but I'm yet to find one who's actually happy and not stressed out.
    Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that too many black women are sacrificing their own happiness and well being for others. Too many of us are over worked, miserable and misguided because we've been trained to carry the burden of others, especially the burden of a black man. We date men who are broke and basically can't do anything for us, yet women of other races wouldn't date or marry a guy who is poor and can't help them.

    Here in Panama, there is a huge Jewish community (my hubby is jewish) and you will not believe the privileges of the Jewish woman. Jewish women never have to work or lift a finger to do anything in their lives. They have maids, nannies and personal assistants etc. If their husband dies, then the community takes care of them. They are not expected to fight battles or anything. I think that black women got the shitty end of the stick because other women are not required to work as hard as we do, unless they themselves want to, but that's a whole different story.

  4. Hi Ladies,

    I definitely think that many of us have to take care of our own needs before taking care of anyone else. It is also unfair to expect women to do things that may actually harm them just for the benefit of others. Helping others is great but some people just can't afford that while others can. Plus, a lot of the time the ways we are asked to help is actually not helpful and a waste of precious time and resources. Some women can't afford to waste anything. I think that once these women have their lives together it will actually be beneficial to everyone so that should be their only obligation.

    Hi Maria,

    I like my education and career and all but if it prevents me from getting married and having kids I would be so disappointed, sad, and even angry. For me the whole point of the prestigious career was to provide for a family not just so I could feel good about the achievement. The achievement feels great but it was supposed to serve a purpose. If I had the choose between happy family and career the family wins no contest.

  5. Great post as always!
    @Maria - Wow, I can definitely relate to your story. Once I found myself sacrificing my social life for my "career" (at 23!) I knew I had to get out. I'm glad you found a place where you're happy with your fiance!