On Femmephobia

When I was a freshman in high school, I and my friends were Cool Chicks.

We weren’t like those other girls, the ones who were passive and weak and giggled and watched romantic comedies and thought about their hair and makeup. Those girls were stupid and frivolous and vapid, and we made fun of them. No, we were Cool. We liked fantasy novels and action movies and anime! We laughed at “that’s what she said” jokes and “make me a sandwich” humor and South Park quotes! We fake-fought with each other and laughed off pain and never cried! We were just like the guys in every way!   

Around this time, I was also beginning to really get into feminism. I was proud of myself. I defied convention and gender roles. My adoption of male gender norms wholesale was truly a feminist act. After all, all the stuff girls did was stupid, and the stuff boys did was fun, and–

…hey, wait a minute.

Julia Serano, in Whipping Girl (which is, in my opinion, a book that should be read by everyone interested in gender issues) discusses the concept of “femmephobia” in our society. Femmephobia is the devaluation, fear and hatred of the feminine: of softness, nurturance, dependence, emotions, passivity, sensitivity, grace, innocence and the color pink.

To a large degree, our culture has replaced the fear and hatred of women, with the fear and hatred of things commonly associated with women. I think this is… not so much progress, actually.

To see femmephobia in our society, it’s only necessary to look at the differences between how we treat masculine girls and feminine boys. A masculine girl is a “tomboy,” likely to be approved of by her parents; there are many programs to encourage girls in sports and in the sciences, stereotypically male fields. A feminine boy is a “sissy,” likely to be bullied by other boys and by girls; there are no programs to encourage boys in dance and in the humanities, stereotypically female fields.

As we get older, masculinity continues to be more acceptable for women than femininity for men. I own boxer shorts and ties, and I have short hair; at worst I’m considered to have a mildly eccentric fashion taste. A guy who dressed in as feminine a way as I dress masculine would have Transvestic Fetishism, a clinical mental illness. Men are encouraged not to cry, because it’s girly, but women are not discouraged from getting angry because it’s masculine. As I pointed out to one of my Cool Chick friends, “if any guy tried to act as girly as we act dudely, he’d get beaten up.”  

Femmephobia can also be seen in marketing. We have diet soda, and we have diet soda FOR MEN; we have loofahs, and we have loofahs FOR MEN; we have canned soup, and we have canned soup FOR MEN. Men cannot be expected to consume feminine things like body care items or diet food or soup in cans (!?) unless it is specifically marked out as Not Girly, and therefore Not Bad. With a few obnoxious exceptions, such as tools for girls (they’re pink) or video games for girls (they’re pink and have Barbie), women who like traditionally masculine hobbies get to have the same fishing poles, golf clubs and bad Trekkie novels as the boys– because, since masculinity is valued, it doesn’t matter if a woman tries to become masculine.

The form of femmephobia most annoying to me occurs in feminist communities. It’s a difficult line to walk, because it is often necessary for feminism to critique femininity, the same way it is often necessary for masculism to critique masculinity. However, it is possible to critique femininity without critiquing feminine people. Choosing to be a stay-at-home mother, to abstain from sex until marriage, to remove body hair or to wear makeup and the other accourtrements of femininity does not somehow make you a bad feminist. That is ridiculous. 

Perhaps the most tragic consequences can result when femmephobia intersects with homophobia and transphobia. The source of much homophobia against gay men, I think, is femmephobia: consider the association between having sex with men and a feminine gender performance that many homophobes claim exists. As for transphobia, well, there isn’t a single thing more girly than wanting to be a girl. And since being feminine is, for men, the worst thing possible (and even for women it’s a little disreputable), well…

Of the streak of gay teen suicides in 2010, the majority were men.

Of the trans people murdered in 2010, the overwhelming majority were trans women.

Femmephobia kills.

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108 Responses to On Femmephobia

  1. Paul says:

    I’m not sure how much I buy the whole “homophobia = femmephobia” idea. For one thing it’s extremely simplistic, for another it would logically indicate that there’s no stigmatism against “masculine women” which is demonstratably false.

  2. BlackHumor says:

    Why does “gay men are hated because they’re feminine” have to do with masculine women? Like, at all?

  3. Paul says:

    because if the only reason gay men were hated on was because they “acted feminine,” in other words the problem was the *feminine* then women acting masculine would be seen as no big deal, perhaps even celebrated. This is OBVIOUSLY not the case so therefore, it must not be the “femininity” thats the target but people acting outside their perscribed role.

  4. ozymandias42 says:

    I think it’s a classic case of intersectionality, actually. Gay men suffer from homophobia (because assholes are grossed out that two people of the same gender might fall in love with each other) and femmephobia (because assholes are grossed out that a man might do something “feminine” like fall in love with a man). Therefore, they get double the amount of grossed-out-ness from assholes than, say, lesbians do. (Lesbians, of course, have their own problems, such as the objectification of their sexuality, and their fair share of grossed-out assholes, and butch women don’t exactly have it easy either.) You can see this in, for instance, the fact that anti-gay rhetoric tends to present gay men as ALL QUEER PEOPLE EVER.

  5. Darque says:

    I have to disagree with this post.

    For it truly to be “femmephobia” at play, then women would have to be punished as well for wearing feminine or frilly clothing, painting their nails, or crying/other displays of “feminine” emotion.

    Maybe I’m slightly off base here, but it is my understanding that in many cases, this is completely acceptable behavior for women.

    The common factor in the above equation doesn’t appear to be femininity. It appears to be men showing weakness, emotion, or transgressing masculinity.

    Women have been able to wear masculine clothing and participate in masculine behaviors for a long time. I suspect this has to do in part with the fact that people have tried hard to change the behaviors that women are allowed to participate in. I don’t think a similar effort has been made with men.

  6. doubletrack says:

    Great post; nailed it.

    I have a special load of contempt reserved for the “Exceptional Woman” thing (as Melissa from Shakesville calls it). Every woman who can gut a fish or who hates shopping or who is outrageously funny or who loves watching sport or who is constantly horny is a counter-example to all the stupid stereotypes we have about women, yet it gets chalked up as them “thinking like a man” or “not being a typical girl”. So just like that the stereotypes are reinforced rather than weakened. That’s some No True Scotsman shit right there, and it grates me so much. Yet at the same time, it shouldn’t be considered THE WORST THING EVARR to be like a “typical girl”, for anyone.

  7. Paul says:

    Thats kinda my point Ozy. It’s not that gay men are “acting like women” so much as that gay men are acting like, well, like gay men. If it were just “being feminine” then the masculine lesbians would be hunky-dorey, and so would the more “stereotypically-masculine” gay men. That they aren’t indicates that it’s something other than just femininity that is the “problem.”

  8. BlackHumor says:

    because if the only reason gay men were hated on

    Okay, this is where you’re going wrong. “Gay men are hated on because they are (seen as) feminine” is not in any way incompatible with “gay men are hated on because they are gay”. Or “lesbians are hated on because they are masculine”.

    Hate is not rational and not simple and it’s not always reasonable to assume that hating femininity == loving masculinity. You can, and many people do, hate feminine men AND masculine women at the same time, even while you like masculine men and feminine women. But it’s not any less hate of femininity to only hate it sometimes, any more than it’s somehow not misogynist to hate the women you want to date but not your mom. You don’t not hate women just because you don’t hate ALL women, and you don’t not hate femininity just because you don’t hate ALL femininity.

  9. Darque says:

    Actually, I fail to see how you’re making much sense.

    Some people can hate femininity in some places and like it in others. Just like it is possible for someone to hate specific women without liking all of them. Saying that I think Michelle Bachmann is an absolutely, outrageously terrible person does not mean that I think all women are outrageously terrible as well.

    Just like in this case, femininity is ok when women are practicing it (with a few exceptions) and it is explicitly not ok when men are practicing it (with a few exceptions as well).

  10. All those who doubt it’s femmephobia at play? Look at the michfest forums: They all go out of their way to construct trans women as hyperfeminine. When radicalfeminists (as opposed to feminists) leave me hateful comments, they’ll key on my mannerisms, how I hold my hands, never mind that there’s no nail polish… the way I often roll my eyes, but never mention that they, like the rest of my face, are free of makeup… and yes, there are a lot more gay jokes made about those with ‘gay’ (read femme) mannerisms than those who ‘act straight’ (don’t have typically femme mannerisms) I guarantee you could find a lot more bitterly homophobic language regarding Michael Musto than Craig Crawford, and the key is dialect, presentation, mannerism… Yes, they hate the ‘twinks’ more.

  11. GudEnuf says:

    “Of the trans people murdered in 2010, the overwhelming majority were trans women.”

    There are four times as many trans women as trans men. Do you think that inequality is natural, or cultural?

    I know this theory isn’t popular in progressive circles, but I think femmephobia plays a role in this inequality. In our culture, a man is told that being a man means having “masculine” qualities. Some “feminine” men notice they do not have these qualities. So they deduce they are not truly a man, and that they need to transition into womanhood. “Masculine” women are four times less likely to make a similar deduction, because our culture tolerates “masculine” women more than “feminine” men.

    Is this theory too far-fetched? Do you think it’s possible that rigid male gender roles are the cause some men to seek gender reassignment?

    I think people should be free to do what they wish with their body, and that we should respect those choices. But if a femmephobic culture is telling men they need a vagina in order to enjoy loofahs/soup/diet soda, I’m not sure we can call that a free choice.

  12. The inequality between trans women and men is actually closer to between 1.4 and 1 to 1. Part of the reason there are more transitioned women is that there are more *Recorded* transitioned women than men… medical outcomes for phalloplasty lag behind those for vaginoplasty, while a masculinizing HRT regimen was easier to obtain illicitly for trans men, there being masculinizing steroids already widely used by cis men.

    There are too many tweener presenting makeup eschewing trans lesbians (we trykes make up just under 30% of the estimated total of transitioned trans women, by the way, while straight trans women are estimated at about 23%) to allow your theory to hold up well… in fact, we’re the group seeing the largest increase in incidence of transition. That’s because the heteronormative standards by which our transitions are policed have been gradually lessening since the early 90’s. I would have been denied transition medicine in the 80’s… it would have been a multi-year fight in the 90’s… in 2010, I had my HRT referral pushed back until I pressed the matter a couple of weeks later because I showed up to the doctors’ office in something that was clearly not high-femme attire.

    Though I will admit that femmephobia makes it harder for a trans woman to try to cissexistly construct herself as a femmeboy or male lesbian than it is for a trans man to cissexistly construct himself as a butch woman (You know exactly who I’m talking about there… ) or FAB (I’m leaving out the C and A because I want to underline the cissexist construction) gender rebel. But what that does is prevent trans women from finding out that identifying in those ways and presenting in those ways doesn’t relieve dysphoria, reducing the number of women who transition.

    When my girlfriend was 20, she thought she was just a wannabe crossdresser… her girlfriend at the time dressed her up in high femme regalia. She saw herself in the mirror and broke down crying because at that point she realized the clothes had next to nothing to do with it… she wanted to see a girl in the mirror. Now she’s sitting behind me in a green sweater and bluejeans, drawing a comic about a bear fighting zombies. You tell her how much it was about feminine perogatives instead of presenting female, okay?

  13. Darque says:

    So why do we call it femmephobia, when women who present as feminine rarely seem to get shit for it?

    Am I wrong, but aren’t butch lesbians derided more in popular culture than more feminine appearing lesbians?

    When it’s mosty men who are getting the shit end of femmephobia, why do we call it femmephobia, rather than a fear and hatred of men and the ways they transgress gender expression?

    If we truly hated everything feminine as a culture, then what the fuck is up with barbie, or the girl’s toy isle at Toys R Us, or the Real Housewives of ________, or the entire fashion industry, or manicures, and pedicures, or bed bath and beyond, or metrosexuals, or the relative success of channels like HGTV and food network?

    Am I missing something here?

  14. Darque says:

    I would also like to apologize in advance for not mentioning trans women in my post: I think that the phenomena of femmephobia makes a lot of sense when talking about trans women. It just doesn’t make as much sense when talking about gay men or more feminine straight men.

  15. GudEnuf says:

    I got the “4 times as many” number from here:

    Click to access GIRES-Prevalence-Abstract-2.pdf

    Where did you get the “1.4 and 1 to 1” number?

    I never said all trans women were coerced by culture. I know nothing about your girlfriend. But there is a large statistical discrepancy, and I was wondering if it is caused by culture.

  16. Well, women, as Ozy points out, still get shit for being feminine… you can look at Peggy Drexler’s work for example, and see who seems to dismiss that there are smart high-femme presenting cis women out there (Peggy Drexler and Trans are like Bruce Wayne and Batman… never seen in the same room.)… and then go back to her column “The Incredible Shrinking Man” and see what kind of femmephobia she busts out for the coercively-male-assigned.

    But then you can have that intersect with cissexism, where those coercively-female-assigned are less shunned for engaging in feminine presentation than those coercively-male-assigned… and you can have homophobia intersect with cissexism when it comes to butch presentation… butches are ‘more visibly gay’ than femme lesbians… same with more femme/camp/whatever you want to call it, gay men… it’s the same reason trans women who are presumed cis don’t come in for as much negative treatment as those who are presumed trans… they have to know you’re what they hate before they can hate you on a visceral level.

  17. @Gudenuf You’re repeating an old trope about questioning trans women and whether we’re just effeminate men. -_-;; Trans-exclusionary radfems, social conservatives, and other anti-trans ppl tend to repeat it too. So do psychiatrists. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked “maybe you’re just an effeminate man?” And not just from society. There’s a lot of trans women who are in denial, or were in denial, wondering if we could just get through being effeminate men. Transitioning isn’t the easier solution in our society, it certainly isn’t the more encouraged one, and it isn’t the one people consider before wondering if they’re “feminine” cis men.

    You’re also stereotyping trans women. And often, the mainstream media and society sees what they want to in trans women. And that’s forgetting that (especially in the past), trans women are pushed to adopt a feminine ideal in order to pass things like the “real life test” and convince psychiatrists that we should be allowed a letter for hormones. That’s changing, but there’s still a lot of pressures around trans women to “prove” we’re trans, and as I said, the media tends to cherry pick when they cover trans people. And also for ppl seeing what they want to see, I was accused a lot of the “maybe you’re just a feminine man” thing also because I liked pink and because of the way I write, and clothing choices. Of course, everybody ignored that I like sports, that I’m good at sports, that I’m good at computer programming, or I like video games and comics. Now am I an effeminate man, or a masculine woman? Or maybe I’m just a person? xD

    Society does not make it easy to transition. Nor is the decision to do so easy. Nor is it done because of fitting gender norms. I know butch trans women, I know trans women who got surgery then transitioned back to male because that is how they felt right in their bodies, I know trans lesbians, I know trans women who identify as genderqueer. And I’ll tell you this… nobody is pushing us to transition. Everybody is pushing against us. Family or friends afraid of “losing” us, or who are just outright transphobic. Psychiatrists who need us to fit a certain criteria and narrative before allowing us that precious letter. Doctors who require it. Transphobes who are fighting against allowing us protections under the law, or who threaten us. And… sometimes… ourselves. :\

    And finally, that narrative you’re spreading is toxic. It’s one that, as I said, is spread around quite often, and it’s always used to discredit trans ppl, to pick at our experiences, our interests, our personalities. People point to the way we walk, and the way we talk, what we like, who we like, who we ARE. And we’re always told “maybe you can just not transition?” “maybe you can just be masculine/feminine?” If you don’t want to trust how a person identifies, and you alrdy have a narrative for why people transition, then you can question them to eternity. 😐

  18. @GudEnuf Their numbers are totally out of whack… the prevalence of social transition is closer to 1 in 250 than 1 in 5000… see, ironically enough, Lynn Conway’s work for better numbers.

    But the study in question is based on 20 years of Swedish data. From Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender#Transgender_identities ): “Landén, M., Wålinder, J., Lundstrom, B. (1996) “…Results: During the 20-year period of the study, 233 requests for sex reassignment were processed, and the incidence data were calculated on the basis of this group. This means that the average annual frequency was 11.6 cases. The number of inhabitants in Sweden over 15 years of age increased during the study period from 6.5 million to 7.1 million, i.e. there was a mean population of 6.8 million (12), which gives an annual incidence of request for sex reassignment of 0.17 per 100,000 inhabitants. The sex ratio (male:female) is 1.4 :1. To resolve the question of whether transsexualism increases or decreases, we divided the group into two 10-year periods. As can be seen from Table 1, not only do our results agree with the Swedish incidence data published in the 1970s, but also they remain remarkably stable over time. Separating from all applications the group with primary transsexualism yielded 188 cases, i.e. 9.4 cases annually. As is shown in Table 2, this corresponds to an incidence of primary transsexualism of 0.14 per 100,000 inhabitants over 15 years of age. It should also be noted that primary transsexualism is equally common in women and men…” in Incidence and sex ratio of transsexualism in Sweden from Acta Psychiatrica Scandanavica, Volume 93, pages 261-263. Retrieved on 2007-09-22.”

    (Admittedly, Sweden has some seriously cissexist policy around transition, and add that to the unidirectional-gender-power model and I wouldn’t be surprised if funding isn’t allocated in a particularly transmisogynistic way in Sweden as opposed to other Western nations.)

  19. GudEnuf says:

    I’m wrong, y’all are right.


  20. @GudEnuf It happens… though it’d be nice if I could somehow make more trans women by just rigorously policing cis men… ah well.

  21. @Ami

    Mostly kidding. Just a rhetorical artifact of being one of those lesbians who sometimes wishes there were… well… more girls, while understanding that’s not really ethical post-utero. That and I’m one of those people who is, perversely, happy to be trans. I am glad that I had to find out how much womanhood was worth to me… (though I will admit wishing my growth spurt had been a little less exuberant)… I wouldn’t retroactively make myself cis (male or female) if I could. Nor do I consider transness a fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone… cissexism is a bitch, but it’s not insurmountable, especially in this era.

  22. This is the same argument as in the drink thread, and it’s just as wrong as it is there. The universal behaviour is the lower status one. Higher status people may “slum it” by partaking in lower status behaviour, but lower status people may not presume to act higher status – and this is enforced as much by the lower status people (“not for the likes of us”) as the higher status.

  23. Nobby says:

    @Patrick for that to be true, the necessary behaviors would have to be labelled as too good for them. They would be labelled, as you said, as too good for them. However, I have never seen a beer being labelled as a bad, or lower status drink (except certain beers among aficionados, in which case it’s in favor of another beer), or especially a whiskey or scotch, etc. The manly labelled drinks are never labelled as bad. Have you ever seen a top shelf Smirnoff ice?

    And to bring it back to the thread, the same thing applies. When, ever, is a man using, say, herbal essences seen as using a product that is too good for him? When would a boy playing with a barbie be reprimanded for trying to be better then he is? When is a girl in sciences told that she is lowering herself and her station for doing it?

  24. Nobby says:

    *Patrick for that to be true, the necessary behaviors would have to be labelled as high status. They would be labelled, as you said, as too good for them.

    and *However, I have never seen a beer being labelled as a bad, or lower status drink (except certain beers among aficionados, in which case it’s in favor of another beer, on in combination with classism, where it’s, again, a cheap beer instead of a good beer or liquor. Not instead of a round of cosmos), or especially a whiskey or scotch, etc.

  25. @Nobby I’ve heard women label beer as a lower-status or ‘gross’ drink, jokes that men prefer the smell of stale beer to any perfume a woman might wear, or beer-swilling being used as a classist epithet.

    But yeah, I’ve heard the same femmephobic mocking used on coolers and zinfandel… I’m not sure exactly about the gendering of alcoholic drinks… save for ‘pornstars’ (some candied low-alcohol-for-a-shot concoction with whipped cream on top… I’ll stick to Manhattans with maraschino juice when I want something with syrup.)

  26. Nobby says:

    Beer-swilling is a class epithet, I’ll give you that. But in that case I think much has to do with, well, class. Beer in particular was probably not the best example, since it does span the range from cheap college beer to really fancy stuff. However Whiskey and Scotch are more obvious in that. A guy who’s drinking bad whiskey isn’t doing it because he can’t buy a cosmo, it’s because he’s a man, dammit. Just a man without money.

  27. Darque says:

    Well, it’s not like he has much of a choice anyway. If he does too many “not manly things” people will end up calling him fag, sissy, or homo.

    Functionally speaking, femininity is less universally afforded to people than masculinity.

    Moreover, rarely does that kind of gender policing happen in a visibly hierarchical manner. When women are told that they wouldn’t make good soldiers/firefighters/insert x, they aren’t ever told that these professions are “too good” for them. They’re told that they’re not as capable of filling them, that these are “unnatural choices” and unfeminine choices.

    Similarily, when a man transgresses the established bounds of his gender norms, he is told that it is an “unnatural” and unmasculine choice.

    Culturally speaking, there isn’t the same pushback to allow men to make feminine choices as there is to allow women to make masculine choices. You can call it femmephobia if you like, but I’ll tell you: If it is femmephobia, it’s slightly curious that it’s screwing men over more than it is women.

  28. sonicrhubarb says:

    My understanding, from reading Serano’s book, was that the numbers discrepancy between MTF and FTM is socially constructed, because the numbers largely come from the “gatekeepers” or the medical community, and who they graciously ALLOW to transition. By no means an actual measure of the people that simply feel themselves to be Trans, or those who decide that surgery isn’t what they need.
    She also makes some interesting points about our fear of the feminine contributing to making MTFs more visible. With masculinity being valued, then it is understood why women would want to partake of the masculine, trading up in a sense. But that society is upset by men, who want to give up their masculine privilege, thus part of the fascination, spotlighting, and medicalization of FTMs.
    And to those who keep asking why it is we don’t hate feminine women…it’s not about hating women that are staying within their given boundaries. Femininity is being devalued. Women who practice it are sometime devalued as a result. But the putrid vile is often reserved for individuals transgressing the sacred boundaries.
    Before anyone gets upset, because they think I’m saying that this is the gospel truth in every single case, I’m not. The above is my understanding of some of the theories from the book, which I think are pretty smart.
    Personally, I think there is a lot to be said of feminine privilege, and the freedom of expression that it allows in contrast to masculinity. Which in no ways make femephobia any less real.

  29. Nobby says:

    And sorry to be dragging the other topic into this one, so back more on topic with this thread, I think some people are missing the intersection of cissexism here with femmphobia. Yes, women are given more of a pass with regards to femme behavior, but that doesn’t mean that femmephobia doesn’t exist.

    Lets look at the problem in two ways. First, Patrick’s construction would say that women are high status, and thus men who seek this high status are shunned, and that’s all that’s happening. However, how does this account for the fact that men are overrepresented in academia, business (at least to look at highest tiers such as the Fortune 500, I won’t presume to know more then that), and politics? Are these things coded as low status? How? The US presidency has yet to be held by a woman, how could that be if women were seen as the higher status?

    I suppose you can try to handwave away politics or business positions as being relatively low status because the wives of such people don’t need to do the work the husbands do (though this ignores the fact that one rarely knows the wife in this situation unless it’s a first lady, and they have no responsibilities, but I’ll leave that for now), it absolutely doesn’t cover academia, where status is conferred by training and mental skills. A wife in such a situation would have no call to high status, especially as said status is the result of personal honors, and frequently not a whole lot of money. At least not compared to other areas. And it is purely cerebral at the highest level, and thus not as contaminated with the stigma of ‘work’ to such a degree (which isn’t true, but we’re talking perceptions here).

    So, leaving that for now, let’s look at the other side. If feminine is coded as worse, and females are coded as feminine, then that would leave females as being shunned from anything except those things coded as feminine. If they stick to feminine things, then they are adhering to the proper, lower, status, and thus avoid shaming. They’re in their proper place, after all.

    Let’s look at straight classes again, for some comparison. Lets say a factory worker and manager. Might the manager engage in factory work? Sometimes, perhaps, but usually only if it is as some sort of joke with others of his class (perhaps mocking the workers), or as the result of some failure on his end, such as being understaffed, in which case his status takes a hit. Being in a position of a lower class, if not in a position of jest, is mocked for, well, lowering his status, for not being good enough to be in the position he occupies. And how would a manager who lowers himself to the level of a worker permanently be treated? Badly, one can only assume. He is a failure.

    But what if the worker deigns to educate himself and become a manager? He may be mocked as being incapable of it while trying, but success would lead to high praise. He is a man who has bucked his lot in life, made himself a better man, lived the American dream, etc. He may get hassled by his ex-peers for being ‘too good’ for them, but he is now beyond them, and seen as being above his given station. And he may be tested by his new peers, but out of trying to prove him not good enough. He is hassled, again, for being better then he should be, not for being lower.

    So what does this have to do with femmephobia? Well, the same rules apply. The worker and the manager, when in their respective positions, are relatively unhassled. The worker is still lesser, they are still the object of scorn, but that scorn is not felt as badly because they are performing as they should. In the same manner, women being women is seen as being fine, for that is their ‘proper station’. When women go into higher status positions, such as, say, politics, they are ruthlessly tested. They are not mocked for lowering their station. Sarah Palin is not attacked for lowering herself, but not being good enough to be in politics. A woman in sciences is attacked for not being tough enough for the academic scene, or not being smart enough to get good results. A women in business is attacked for not having a head for business or, again, not having the ruthlessness required. And all of these, on success, are praised. They are the exceptional women! They’re the ones who act like men, the ones who buck the trend and make good. They are hassled, but their stories are ones of accomplishment, not falls from grace.

    On the flip side, what happens to a man who acts feminine? Lets say, a male nurse, shall we? A male nurse is the butt of jokes. Perhaps a failed doctor, probably a little soft in the head. Fashion? He’s probably gay. A ballet dancer? Certainly gay! Etc etc etc. Men in women dominated fields are either gay, or somehow failures.

    And this is huge enough already, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

  30. It’s screwing women over plenty. -_- Women may not get “push back” for being femme, but we’re certainly taken less srsly, esp when we’re in areas that are traditionally “masculine”. :\ My exp in sports and comics spaces for instance. Esp compared to the way my opinion was taken pre-transition. The way I write and the layout and colors of my blog also add to this. Even in feminism, my voice is often questioned or dismissed because of the way I write… -_- Sometimes in trans comms as well. The idea that I shouldn’t be taken srsly, that I obv am less intelligent, etc…

    In “real life”, I get condescended to a lot in tech stores, or in tech environments. (where I worked in) Same as in talking about sports. Or comics. :\ Part of being a feminine woman also means that you get weak, helpless, lacking in exp, less capable, etc etc, in it.. and ppl assume a lot of what you know, or can and can’t do, and you can say the exact same things, and it’ll be taken differently.

    This isn’t to say “omg feminine women have it worrrsstt” or nething… I dun like doing the “who has it worse” thing. But I’m explaining how the way our society sees femme also affects women. (and I’m keeping out the intersection of it and trans women) :]

  31. @sonicrhubarb First of all, I agree with everything in your post except one little linguistic tic.

    Please don’t say MtF… it’s really rather degendering. I didn’t become female, I reclaimed my femaleness. Transfemininity and transmasculinity work if you want stand-ins for trans woman and trans man that don’t erase the non-binary-identified.

  32. Nobby says:

    Also, let me say that I don’t mean to cast this as not a problem for men. It certainly is, for exactly the reasons I’ve stated: a man doing feminine things is degraded thereby. This means that any man is essentially barred access from things he may want to do if they’re coded feminine (at least, if he is at all afraid of social pressure, which many are), and this sucks for a ton of men. Just so we’re clear.

  33. Plus 8 says:

    Its a method of creating gender equality – socially constricted stigmatization of masculinity and femininity via feminism pushes us more towards the goal of gender equality.

  34. Just to be clear, Male and female status are not absolute and unidirectional, but depend on what sphere you’re moving in and what kind of behaviour you’re engaging in. While there are areas, as I’ve been arguing, where female behaviours are high status and restricted and male behaviours can be engaged in by either sex, there are also areas where the reverse is the case. Politics and business are certainly those kind of areas, although complicated by the fact that women have other options – there’s less incentive to achieve power or wealth when you have the option of marrying it.

    Academia is undergoing a profound gender switch. The people at the top may be more likely to be male, but if they’ve been around long enough to get to the top, they came through the system when it favoured men. At the bottom, in primary schools, through secondary schools and feeding into undergraduates, taking education seriously is regarded by boys as “not for the likes of us” in the same way it has been for a long time for poor people, and similar to the way it used to be for girls who were not supposed to be worth educating because they wouldn’t get to use it.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to claim that women are higher status in every area of life, or that man always have it worse. I’m just objecting to interpreting absolutely everything as being anti-women when other interpretations are possible, and to my mind more convincing.

  35. OrangeYouGlad says:

    “”The source of much homophobia against gay men, I think, is femmephobia: consider the association between having sex with men and a feminine gender performance that many homophobes claim exists. As for transphobia, well, there isn’t a single thing more girly than wanting to be a girl.””

    NO. This shit drives me crazy in feminist circles. I’ve already argued it on this very site on one of the older posts and on probably every site accross the internet where some damned feminist was claiming it. I’m so fucking sick of it at this point I’m not even going to bother.

    I’ll say this and leave it:

    Two masculine men *if displaying their homosexuality visibly* will still get shit for it. No law reads “X activity is only illeal for effiminate gay men”. Effiminate gay men get shit for their *visibility*.

    There was a time when a woman in trousers was just as laughable and likely to face violence as a man in a dress. This was not because masculinity was devalued but because *cross-gender expression is deeply frowned upon* (to understate it). Great work has been done to change the variety of expression available to women, cross-gender expression is no longer considered as volatile in women (but you can ask any butch lesbian if you still catch shit for it even today especially if you go “too far”). The same hasn’t been done for men hence the discrepency.

    Now, I’m done arguing this bullshit.

  36. IDiom says:

    @OrangeYouGlad well said, especially as regards effeminate gay men being more visible (and so attracting more attention).

    I think that the problem is less ‘femmephobia’ and more ‘masculphilia’ or rather the fetishization of the masculine. Let me paint a picture of the scene from this perspective; feminism has won a great few battles, the first and second wave feminists clawed, argued and fought their way into the lime light and the patriarchy lost some of it’s grip. It became no longer considered deviant for women to do a great deal of the things men could do and not cop shit for it, after all, equality right? Of course the targets of this message were women and the patriarchy, the patriarchy essentially stopped fighting feminism and went “Sure, you want equality? Enjoy, we’re sick of fighting legal cases and popular opinion and we’re just going to reinforce that it’s still cool to be a guy now that our awesome privilege is largely gone”.

    So it got back to it’s roots, reinforcing gender norms on the gender that was starting to wonder what it really meant to ‘be a man’, and in turn feminism thought “Damn it, we want some of that awesome manhood. Quick! Chameleon shift, it’s time to act more like men, because this is what freedom feels like!” also because somewhere along the way the empowered woman became seen as desirable and relateable. By acting more like men they appealed to men who now could share common hobbies and interests. Dinosaurs! Awesome. Sports? Woo. Sex. Fuck yeah!

    Of course when stated like this the patriarchy seems a lot like an entity, when in fact the patriarchy is a hydra of popular opinion now, largely promoted by advertising agencies and propagated by the media.

    Above rant aside, there is an interesting high scale public projects like this being pushed here in Australia to help men, especially in rural areas cope with the difficulties associated with trying to live up to the stereotype (and in particular combat the suicide rate among men in rural areas here); http://softenthefckup.com.au/ and http://www.mensshed.org/

  37. debaser71 says:

    I generally liked the OP. And as I read deeper into it I liked it more and more. But I too have some issues with how phobias are being allotted.

    IMO when men act feminine other people’s reaction depend on context. So in the context of family, it’s ok if men express (so-called) feminine qualities like compassion, physical contact, love, hugging, etc. In the context of romance it’s ok for men to be sweet and vulnerable. I think there’s issue when a man, say in the context of hanging out with other male friends at a bar, exhibit feminine qualities where it’s not seen as ok. This is a problem but I think the context part should be considered more.

    Also I think the OP sort of ignores (not that the poster is unaware….just that her post doesn’t address this) the fact that people exhibit both masculine and feminine qualities. So, for example, if I had gotten a Cool Chick on the phone with me (and this was how it went in the 80’s) and talked to her for 3 hours….her sweet feminine side would come out…as would mine…as would most peoples’.

    In my real life I exhibit feminine qualities in that I am the primary caretaker parent. What irks me is how feminine has sort of taken for itself such qualities as compassion, nurturance, passiveness etc. These are not bad things. And it’s b.s. that men get flak for displaying these qualities.

    So, when someone calls me, “Mr. Mom” I take offense (I posted on this before so if you feel ‘offense’ is too strong a word you can look up my other posts) because it’s a statement that says, only mothers can parent well. I’m not “afraid” of being called “Mr. Mom” because it has been assigned by society that parenting is for women…I get offended because “Mr. Mom” excludes fathers from being good parents. It has nothing to do with a fear of being labeled feminine it has to do with how feminine has claimed this quality at the exclusion of masculinity. The zero-sum aspect offends me.

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  39. Bryce Lloyd says:

    Recently, there was a birth announcement at work. A man was proudly talking about the birth of his baby girl, whom he had named ‘Rowan’. This made me furious, reflexively, because my son’s name is Rowan. Rowan, which has been a man’s name for more than a thousand years, is being turned into a girl’s name.

    It is absurd for me to be unhappy about that, so I felt like I needed to unpack it. I can’t really converse with the happy father. I shouldn’t really converse with the happy father. So I will talk to you.

    The thing that was upsetting me was obviously an instance of femmephobia. I try very hard to have a feminist (and masculist) world view, and to examine, and re-examine what I think, and why I think it. What I was feeling, obviously, was that my son’s name becoming ‘girly’ is a taint that will hurt him, lessen him. This is ridiculous, and offensive thinking, of course. As a practical matter, it also may be true.

    Men’s names become women’s name all the time, of course. Evelyn, Beverly, Meredith (they do seem to pick on Welsh names, don’t they), Ashley (forget Gone With The Wind), Robin. They have all gone from boy name to girl name for prospective parents, and a man with those names is an oddity, and suspect. Rowan seems to be headed there (I blame Brooke Shields).

    And women’s names never become men’s names, as far as I can tell. The reason for this is, once the girliness touches a name, it’s radioactive, and it can never be cleaned. You can never name your boy a girl’s name (unless you are a character in a Johnny Cash song), because that makes your child an object of ridicule and derision, and only a big old jerk would do that to their kid.

    I am training my children to not be controlled by hetero-normative and repressive gender identity ideas. I think there should be nothing bad about anything masculine or feminine being attached to any person. That people should be proud of who they are, as individuals, whatever their gender identity, orientation, presentation. I imagine a truly fair world, where femmephobia is nowhere to be found.. I would prefer a world where people had genderless names. I’d prefer a world where there was no penalty for being a boy named Sue, or whatever.

    But, we live in this world, and what is have done is saddle my son with what is becoming a girl’s name, and that means he will pay a real world penalty for my decision. And that is not fair.

    And I have no idea what to do, besides teaching him to be a brave, good man, to value men and women, the masculine and the feminine, and to be proud of who he is, and of his good name. But I signed him up for a fight, and it should be up to him to sign up to fight or not, not for me to force it on him.

    I feel upset for my son, and I feel like a jerk for feeling upset, because it’s sexist and absurd to feel upset about it. There is nothing wrong with the feminine. Femmephobia is stupid. But, there I sit.

  40. Daran says:

    Without commenting upon the substance of the post, may I point out that “femmephobia” is a linguistic barbarism, mixing as it does the Latin-derived “femme-” with the Greek “-phobia”. Greek words for female are “gyne” and “thelus”. “Gynephobia” already has the established meaning of fear/hatred of women. You could use “thelophobia” as a neologism to convey the idea of fear/hatred of the feminine.

  41. BlackHumor says:

    My instant magic counterargument against “you can’t mix latin and greek!”:


  42. Danny says:

    So, when someone calls me, “Mr. Mom” I take offense (I posted on this before so if you feel ‘offense’ is too strong a word you can look up my other posts) because it’s a statement that says, only mothers can parent well. I’m not “afraid” of being called “Mr. Mom” because it has been assigned by society that parenting is for women…I get offended because “Mr. Mom” excludes fathers from being good parents. It has nothing to do with a fear of being labeled feminine it has to do with how feminine has claimed this quality at the exclusion of masculinity. The zero-sum aspect offends me.

    This is a pretty good way to say what I was thinking. I wonder if at least some of what is being labeled femmephobia is actually a matter not wanting a man to have the freedom to do and act as he wishes (wrapped up in a package so that something that’s anti-masculine is actually anti-feminine, although I think its both with you get down to it). No implications of which is better, higher, lower, worse, or otherwise. Just a matter of “you’re a guy, you aren’t supposed to do that stuff”. As with debaser71’s words are people really trying to say that child care is supposedly beneath him or are they just trying to get him back on script (the script of being a man that is)?

    Take compassion for instance. Most people will agree that compassion is a good thing to have, an essential part of being human even. So when someone implies that a man showing compassion is not allowed I wonder if they are trying to say that “that’s for women” or “you’re not human, you a man and men don’t show compassion”. People recognize that things like compassion are a strength in their own right, so why are people so hell bent on not letting men (you know, the “tough and strong ones”) have access to it?

  43. Darque says:

    I think Patrick Brown’s latest post articulates my views more clearly than I can at the moment.

  44. superglucose says:

    Commenting on the last bit you said: I saw someone who claimed to be an advocate and a huge member of an LGBT community decide that she was saddened and wanted to cry when she was in a room of, and I quote, “Cis-straight individuals many of whom had taken a vow of chastity.”

    I was sick to my stomach when I heard her say that. Oh, I’m not good enough for you as a cis-straight? I’m not entitled to take a vow that is deeply personal to me and important to me? I *have* to live the exact same life you do and have the exact same preferences you do in order to be worthwhile?

    Words don’t describe how much her statement stung me.

  45. ozymandias42 says:

    Of course there’s social pressure to fit your gender roles! However, I argue with the notion that this social pressure means that femmephobia doesn’t exist. I think they intersect with each other.

    For instance (and of course I’m oversimplifying muchly here), in my experience, a woman will get negative consequences if she’s too masculine (gender role enforcement) or too feminine (femmephobia). A woman who is “too” feminine is generally not taken seriously (especially in male-dominated fields like science or comic book fandom) except as a sex object and is thought of as stupid and vapid and uncool and probably a slut. A woman who is “too” masculine is, well, a dyke. A woman who balances masculinity and femininity (especially if she’s physically attractive)* is a cool chick who isn’t like those other girls.

    In the case of gay men, well, in my experience with homophobes they tend to think that all gay men are mincing fairies, and will spindle, bend and mutilate reality to prove that any given gay man is sekritly femme as hell. Homophobes aren’t exactly up on their queer theory 101, you know. 🙂 Of course, the majority of homophobia is, well, homophobia: “queer people are GROSS and EW.” However, homophobes seem to hate gay men and trans women even more than they hate lesbians and trans men (bisexuals, of course, are invisible), and it makes sense to me that “queer people are UNNATURAL and GROSS and EW” combines with “people, especially men, doing feminine things is UNNATURAL and GROSS and EW” to make a toxic brew of people going EWWWWWWWWW.

    And, yes, feminism did play a role in the creation of femmephobia– partially because of its emphasis on liberating women instead of men, and partially because they saw the flaws of femininity (weakness, sexual objectification, stupidity, etc.) much more than the flaws of masculinity and so all too often decided that liberation could be found by women becoming masculine, as opposed to by people becoming themselves.

    Daran: Blame Julia Serano, not me. 🙂 But this is a case in which I think being understood easily trumps strict linguistic correctness.

    Debaser: And of course every human being has feminine traits, which is why femmephobia is so damn stupid. 🙂 I’m pretty masculine, but I still cry at Disney princess movies and like Lady Gaga, and that’s okay (even if my fourteen-year-old self wouldn’t think so).

    *Random thought: I wonder how much of the animosity towards butch women is because they aren’t performing their role as sex object correctly? Anecdatally, I’ve noticed “dyke” in conjunction with “ugly” and “fat” an improbable number of times…

  46. Brett K says:

    @ Bryce Lloyd

    Thanks for sharing this. Being a girl with a traditionally masculine name does grant me a few “cool chick” points, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the part it plays in the trend that you described. For a long time I thought that if I ever had kids I’d give them gender neutral names, but I’m starting to realize that gender neutral, in this context, really just means masculine. No parent in their right mind would give their son a feminine name – not because they necessarily are gynophobic/femmephobic/misogynistic, but because the poor kid would be beaten within an inch of his life the moment he entered elementary school. As much as I’d love to reclaim some of those old formerly-male names (I think Evelyn is just a lovely name) I couldn’t subject any child of mine to the kind of bullying that would inevitably ensue.

    It’s a pretty effective metaphor/metonymy for the kyrarchy and gender binary as a whole: as much as we want to transgress it, most of us are prevented from doing so by the potential harm to ourselves and our loved ones. The “acceptable” forms of transgression (such as giving a girl a traditionally male name – which I think is great in principle, but problematic in this cultural context) often reinforce the structures in place rather than weakening them. It’s awful, because pretty soon no one will be able to name their son Rowan, and those kids will be missing out because it’s an awesome name.

    (Too much coffee, can’t express myself clearly, sorry.)

  47. @ozy, last time I got called a dyke, fat was the modifier… I need to date more often and deal with douchey customers less.

    Also, one thing I like about Aaron Sorkin: He writes brilliant highly-feminine women, like Ainsley Hayes, as well as writing some ‘cooler’ women, like CJ Cregg and Abbie Bartlet.

    Watch West Wing.

    PS: Yes, I wish Will Bailey would come out as a tryke, but a girl is only gonna get so much from a multi-million-dollar-an-hour network drama.

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  49. typhonblue says:

    Some thoughts.

    The most toxic and damaging expression of homophobia in a society are anti-sodomy laws. As far as I know, no anti-sodomy law has the caveat that ‘oh yeah, this law only applies to the queeny ones.’

    Making a one-to-one comparison between homophobia and femphobia is fraught and probably should be avoided. There is a connection but I think its a lot more subtle then ‘homophobia is really femphobia’. (I’ll get into it later.)

    The femphobic aspects of male gender policing exist along side such social bullying as ‘be a real man’, ‘man up’ and ‘good man’. The issue goes far deeper then a social hierarchy with male traits on top and female traits on the bottom. As other people have pointed out, female traits are considered ‘better’ in a number of situations, for example when it comes to raising children and winning custody. Has no one else ever heard of ‘testosterone poisoning’ or ‘if women ruled the world there would be no war’ or ‘women are so much better at cooperation/communication thus make better managers?’ Where do these attitudes fit in the man-on-top theory?

    I think the femphobic aspects of male gender policing exist less to create a hierarchy with male traits on top rather then to menace men into compliance using the fragility of their gender identity. This ability to emotionally bully men by calling into question their gender identity is often used to police their behavior and compel them to put their own personal needs aside in service to some greater ideal.

    If it really was about ‘degrading’ men to the status of women, then men would actually take on the status of women and thus their needs as victims would receive the same attention and funding as those of women (or at least proportionate attention and funding which is no where near the case).

    The man-on-top theory of gender hierarchy has to accommodate these datapoints.

    Quite simply, even if manhood is above womanhood, males are not above females.

    The connection that this has to homophobia is this: femphobia or, rather, thanatophobia(fear of death, in this case social death) is used on men to prevent them from doing things society doesn’t like. In our society we don’t like it when men have close relationships with each other or derive their sexual(or emotional) satisfaction from other men. Thus we shame such behavior by yanking away men’s gender identity if they engage in it.

    Also, to be honest, I would rather decouple manhood from those traits that are rightly synonymous with adulthood. I think what Ozy and her friends are searching for is a standard to hold women to and they are absolutely right to do so. That standard shouldn’t be manhood, it should be adulthood.

    Being stoic in the face of danger, putting the needs of others before your own, seeing yourself in terms of what you owe society rather then what society owes you, controlling your emotions, and, yes, having an adult palate–preferring more challenging bitter tastes over sweet ones–are all aspects of ADULTHOOD. They should be decoupled from manhood.

    Further nurturing, empathy and compassion are likewise aspects of a rounded human being that should be decoupled from femininity. (They should also be decoupled from our absurd pedestalization of childhood. Children are not nurturing, empathic or compassionate. They’re selfish, egotistical and cruel little buggers; mother nature made them that way so they could grab enough resources to survive into adulthood.)

    As far as I’m concerned I’m going to continue to hold myself to a standard of adulthood; if that’s perceived as being femphobic, so be it. I think it’s femphobic to continue to equate childish traits with femininity.

  50. Daran says:

    My instant magic counterargument against “you can’t mix latin and greek!”:

    I didn’t say you can’t mix them. I said it was barbaric.


    I rest my case.

  51. Maxwellsilverhammer says:

    Women have been oppressed for so long, its no wonder that traits that we have traditionally considered feminine are not exactly considered empowering. We’ve been saving the good stuff for the men in some respects. So in the process of achieving equality, it makes sense that more women would pursue traditionally male lifestyles, than men feminine lifestyles.

  52. typhonblue says:

    @ Maxwell

    “We’ve been saving the good stuff for the men in some respects.”

    Really? I don’t know about you but sacrificing your mind, body and soul to get incrementally higher on an arbitrary hierarchy of status or usefulness doesn’t sound like ‘the good stuff’ to me.

    It’s one of my main beefs with feminism. I don’t think a high status corporate job would be personally fulfilling or a source of empowerment. Buying into a system that’s essentially designed to exploit you for your labor sounds like a profoundly crap deal. I imagine men only accepted it because it gave them access to something more important and more fundamental: family.

    However there are aspects of men’s socialization to see their identities in terms of their actions rather then how they are acted upon that are beneficial when you look at innovation and creativity.

    Ultimately a middle way between men’s socialized hyperagency and women’s socialized hypoagency likely would benefit both.

  53. Jim says:

    “NO. This shit drives me crazy in feminist circles. I’ve already argued it on this very site on one of the older posts and on probably every site accross the internet where some damned feminist was claiming it. I’m so fucking sick of it at this point I’m not even going to bother.”

    I got rude with someone on another thread lecturing me about my disgust with this formulation, PYG. Not rude enough. The appropriation disgusts me – stop fucking trying to center women and femininity all the fucking time – and the erasure disgusts me. someone making this argument devalues thier opinion in my eyes, no matter how much other good sense they talk.

    “My instant magic counterargument against “you can’t mix latin and greek!”:
    I didn’t say you can’t mix them. I said it was barbaric.”

    Daran, it’s a made-up, false rule you are trying to enforce, and there are hundreds of similar coinages, and probably some dating from the empire itself. Also, as long as you are going to be a language purist, you can’t very well call anything Latin or Greek “barbaric”, can you? But on the meat of the question – femme=/= gyne. ‘Gyne-” may be equivalent to ‘molier’, but that’s a different word with a different semantic load.

  54. Jim says:

    More on mixing Greek and Latin. Have fun and take the comments in the spirit they are given: http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002611.php

  55. Argyle says:

    Reading Ozzy’s OP really hit home with me because, yeah, a lot of that is my personal experience, too — and, given that I’m twice Ozzy’s age, it’s something that’s been with us for a looooong time.

    When I was about 5 years old, I would tell anyone who listened that I wished I had been born a boy. It had nothing to do with sexuality (I turned out cisgendered and a complete zero on the Kinsey scale), and *everything* to do with the subliminal coding I’d picked up about being feminine. Boys got to do all the cool things in life, like run, yell, get dirty, catch frogs and bugs, climb trees and grow up to be astronauts and presidents. Girls got to be pretty (and God help you if you weren’t), wear pink, stay quiet and clean, always be nice, and grow up to have babies and be housewives. And, under it all, was the message that boys/men had power and girls/women did not. So I quickly developed a violent (and often very unfair) antipathy towards anything coded as “feminine” — something that still sticks with me today, though I’m working on getting better.

    I did NOT pick up that coding from my parents, who had cheerfully loose definitions of gender roles (my mom was a stay-at-home mother, yes, but she was also the one who could pull apart a car engine and fix it while my dad admitted complete mechanical ignorance, for example) and who tried very hard not to put any gendered expectations on their kids. Which I think goes to show what effective little social sponges kids are, and how they can absorb all *kinds* of stuff, regardless of what info they get at home. That can be good, but more often isn’t, from what I’ve seen . . .

    Tl;dr — While I am in no way qualified to discuss anything regarding gay/trans experiences (being neither) and am not even going to try, I absolutely agree with what Ozzy was saying in terms of femmephobia as it impacts women, and I agree that it causes unpleasant repercussions (of varying sorts) for all genders. Definitely something worth addressing, and fighting.

  56. Mendez says:

    I agree!

    On that note, thank God for My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.

  57. BlackHumor says:

    I totally agree with Jim on the Latin/Greek thing, and I would like to add that neither “femme” nor “phobia” is any language besides English at this point.

    Sure they come from Latin and Greek, but “barbaros” also comes from Greek and you just mixed it with the English suffix “-ic”. If you’re going to get all uptight about mixing Greek and Latin, I’m going to have to demand you stop mixing Greek and English for the sake of consistancy.

    Or we can acknowledge that “barbaric” is a perfectly normal English word and “femme-” and “-phobia” are perfectly normal English affixes and that despite them all coming from foreign languages it’s not the least bit wrong to mix any of them.

  58. SpudTater says:

    But what is being labelled “femmephobia” in this article does have a rational origin, does it not?

    I mean, traditionally, wearing lipstick and acting passively and reading romances were all a part of the “feminine ambition” — to snag a rich and powerful man, and not have to work for yourself for the rest of your life. And I think we can all agree that this is Not Very Feminist.

    So I think that Ozy was right to look down on at least some of the girls she looked down on in high school.

    But femme identity is not the same as feminine ambition. Plenty of women wear lipstick and flirt girlishly and have submissive sex, without necessarily wanting to give up on their hard-won careers and independence. And often the difference isn’t immediately obvious.

    All in all, I think this is a pretty nuanced issue.

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  61. Jim says:

    “We weren’t like those other girls, the ones who were passive and weak and giggled and watched romantic comedies and thought about their hair and makeup. Those girls were stupid and frivolous and vapid, and we made fun of them.”

    Ozy, that behavior is frivolous and vapid. It’s childish and self-indulgent – why do you equate that with feminine? The whole culture does, I know – but that’s a sick side of the culture, right? Okay, maybe the romantic comedies are alright…..

  62. ozymandias42 says:

    Spud: I wouldn’t even argue that there’s anything wrong with marrying a rich person and not working (I mean, other than the obvious class issues involved). The problem comes when that’s what women HAVE to do, and what men CANNOT do.

    Jim: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giggling (I giggle) or caring about your hair or makeup (adornment can be fun), as long as it’s what you want to do. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re frivolous or vapid, any more than being stereotypically masculine does.

  63. BlackHumor says:

    Why is giggling and caring about your hair any worse than grunting and caring about your muscles?

    I mean, as a guy I usually prefer the first two, though I’ve got nothing against anyone who doesn’t.

  64. Schala says:

    You can care about your hair like me: as in, you have it grow, don’t use products (gel, silk, perm stuff, dyes) or hair blowers on it, don’t burn it with a curling or flat iron, and NOT wash it daily, or promote the idea that you “have to wash it 1 hour every 3 days”, as if washing hair during one hour was completely normal routine stuff for long hair (even very long hair, if it’s not taller than you, its fast – taller than you poses logistic issues with amenities not thought for this kind of “gets stuck a lot” length).

    I don’t care if I get frizzes because its humid or I get a bit of water on it. I don’t get super fancy dos. And while I might like to try styles with someone who could play in my hair the same way, I’m not going to base my entire life around it, or spend hundreds a month on that.

    As for make-up, it’s a preference to not having it. I’ll say like in a make-up remover commercial: skin so naturally beautiful it would be a shame to cover it (and yes, I don’t have perfect skin, but it’s my skin). I also don’t obsess over getting the most white teeth ever.

    I don’t want to be friend with people who obsess over those things. It’s so superficial it’s not even funny.

    I like lolita fashion, and might appreciate more opportunities for wearing it (though it’s a bit heavy for summer-casual wearing), but I don’t spend nights awake not able to sleep over lolita styles.

  65. Schala says:

    Btw, my hair is pretty nice by any standards, and 36 inch in length, naturally wavy chestnut colored, with some blond and some red in various amounts, all natural, even if not artistically placed like a dye.

    I disprove all myths who say you MUST wash your hair with shampoo every day (or even more often) or else it’s greasy. Or that it’s smelly. Or that it’s disheveled and unkempt.

  66. Danny says:

    I disprove all myths who say you MUST wash your hair with shampoo every day (or even more often) or else it’s greasy. Or that it’s smelly. Or that it’s disheveled and unkempt.
    Off topic but who came up with that anyway?

  67. Schala says:

    Seems to be treated as “common sense knowledge” by young people and their magazines.

  68. Rachel says:

    Here’s a post about this topic by Lisa Wade on Sociological Images:

    She labels the ‘femmephobia’ phenomenon ‘androcentrism’. A few commentators are arguing that femmephobia doesn’t make sense since it’s socially acceptable for women to do feminine things, but Wade argues that women are in fact REQUIRED to perform these feminine behaviors. And since femininity is bad and debasing, women are therefor required to debase themselves (even if they are into sports, math, science, and tell ‘that’swhatshesaid’ jokes). This is why there is so much hate for ‘butch’ lesbians- they are punished because they aren’t performing femininity and thereby debasing themselves. They aren’t showing that they ‘know their place’ as women.

    When you add in that important aspect, the argument makes a lot more sense.

    Here is Wade’s explanation if mine isn’t cutting it (you can find the whole thing at the link):

    ” Crash course: Femininity is just for chicks. When men do feminine things, they are debasing themselves. Masculinity is awesome and for everyone. When women do masculine things, they’re awesome. This is sexism: Masculinity rules, femininity drools. Men are encouraged to stay away from femininity, so their individual choices are constrained, but they also are staying away from something debasing. In contrast, women are required to do a least some femininity, so women are required to debase themselves, at least a little bit, even as they are given more options.”

  69. typhonblue says:

    @ Rachel

    I find the entire line of thought you presented confusing.

    Is femininity inherently debasing? If femininity is the ‘left-overs’ given to women by men then why would any woman want to defend it?

    Did black people defend the obsequious behaviors required of them by their white oppressors?

    If anything it sounds like you’re advocating purging the world of feminine behaviors entirely. In which case femphobia is a positive thing.

  70. Rachel says:


    I don’t know where you got any of that from.

    Femininity isn’t leftovers given to women by men- it’s a set a behaviors and traits associated with women. And yes, in the eyes of our culture, it’s debasing. Grace, sensitivity, pink- all things associated with the realm of femininity. Are they bad things in isolation? No. But because they are associated with femininity, they are things to avoid. However, women can’t avoid the fact that they are women and possess all these icky feminine qualities. They have to perform femininity in some visible way- makeup, hairstyle, choice of interests. They are expected to. If they behave the exact same way as men, how can we discount and demean them? If they act the same way as men- then there is only the female sex itself left as the reason for hate. This is why butch women are not accepted with open arms despite the fact that they have eschewed most feminine qualities and embraced awesome!masculine ones.

    I don’t know how it would be helpful to compare this with what ‘black people’ did or did not do in the face of oppression.

    I say purge the world of labeling behaviors and traits as masculine or feminine and assigning a value to them based on those labels. Then ‘feminine’ traits like sensitivity, collaborative thinking, and empathy wouldn’t be shunned by men and women a like in an effort to distance themselves from seeming weak (aka womanly). Femmephobia is most definitely not a good thing, for men, for women, and for the world in general.

  71. Schala says:

    “They have to perform femininity in some visible way- makeup, hairstyle, choice of interests.”

    I’m a trans woman and I’ve yet to meet this “you NEED to wear make-up daily” police. Even if I rarely wear any at all.

    But I can tell you that simply *not wanting to play sports* as a guy, is grounds for being shunned, being unpopular, and being beaten up and of course, suspected of being gay, regardless of who you are attracted to.

    I don’t know hobos who get punished for debasing themselves. And I bet rich people could ‘debase themselves’ without much of a problem, too.

    Btw about women being allowed to do masculine stuff “because it’s super awesome, and for everyone”, well no. It’s because many things that are coded masculine are practical pragmatic things that end up sacrificing time and effort for others…except sports. Sports are not pragmatic except in as much as they are exercise, they’re ways to show off. To impress others. To improve social status.

    It’s seen as unfeminine for a woman to want to prove herself. By being female at all, she HAS proven herself. So she could sound desperate for approval instead.

  72. Jim says:

    “Jim: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giggling (I giggle) or caring about your hair or makeup (adornment can be fun), as long as it’s what you want to do. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re frivolous or vapid, any more than being stereotypically masculine does.’

    I giggle too.

    “Why is giggling and caring about your hair any worse than grunting and caring about your muscles?”

    Oh God, that’s at least as silly and vapid.

    Good grooming is one thing, but spending huge money on it – closets full of shoes should be grounds for re-education IMHO – and the same goes for those obscene macho wagons up on those gantry suspensions. Idiocy.

    I have a friend who wanted “red high lights” in her hair. They turned out pink, or she thought they did. She was miserable about it. What to do, how can I go on. I suggetsed she shave her head and let it grow back (or as a penance for being so vain in the first place) and in fact she would have looked like Sinead O’Connor – graceful and dignified. Finally her husband dyed her hair black, and that helped some. The sad thing is she has beautiful auburn hair and she should have gotten orange or auburn highlights to begin with.

  73. SpudTater says:

    Ozy: We’ll have to differ in our opinions, then. I find it inherently problematic to marry for security and not work yourself — regardless of your gender. Be “femme” if you wish, but for god’s sake be a grown-up too.

  74. typhonblue says:

    @ Rachel

    “However, women can’t avoid the fact that they are women and possess all these icky feminine qualities.”

    Then if femininity is innate to being female, is masculinity innate to being male?

    Further, where does all the adrophobia fit in? I mean we have this idea that men’s sexuality is innately predatory; that masculinity is incapable of nurturing, compassion or cooperation; that if women were in charge that there would be no war; that masculinity is oppressive.

    It isn’t that feminine traits are universally loathed or masculine traits universally lauded; this construction does not jive with my experience at all.

    And that has to be addressed.

  75. Paul says:

    Like Typhon, I’m a bit puzzled where this idea that masculinity is viewed as universally awesome (especially on a site that also has a post discussing “schroedinger’s rapist”) is coming from.

    Testosterone poisoning?
    tropes like the “jerk jock” or the “idiot frat boy” ?

    snips and snails and puppy dog tails, vs sugar and spice and everything nice?
    any of this ring any bells?

  76. Skidd says:

    “However, women can’t avoid the fact that they are women and possess all these icky feminine qualities. They have to perform femininity in some visible way- makeup, hairstyle, choice of interests. They are expected to. If they behave the exact same way as men, how can we discount and demean them?”
    Man, I need to look out for these makeup police, too. Never seen them in my 22 years of being a straight, cisgender tomboy, but they sound awful.

    If I can grow up and play with legos and dinosaurs and videogames with grass stains on my knees and people approved of my choices of activity and the like, and my brothers get crap for having a baby doll through his formative years instead of trucks or playing dress-up in a fun swishy skirt, well…

    Let’s just say it’s not the women who are getting demeaned over this. It is the guys who are getting crap. It’s them who are being mocked and put down: often enough, by women. It’s not about women when they’re not the ones being attacked for behaving outside gender norms. “Feminine things” are just activities and mannerisms — can we divorce them entirely from people’s actual gender and sexuality?

    You can’t simultaneously claim that less value on feminine things is degrading to women when individual women aren’t shunned for it and individual men are.

    Women can’t wear slacks = Oppression of women
    Men can’t wear skirts ≠ Oppression of women
    It feels icky and appropriative and diminishing of the issues of actual men to think of it that way. I might not like skirts myself (sitting ladylike has always been a problem for me), but I will stand firm that guys should be allowed to wear one if they wish. ( Utilikilts are pretty awesome, even. http://www.utilikilts.com/ ) And my boyfriend and I will talk of My Little Pony all we want (Of course, he has to hide the ones I gave him for his birthday, lest anyone else see and tease him).

  77. Rachel says:

    I don’t think femininity is innate to females or masculinity innate to males- I think it’s often seen that way. Obviously, all human beings have a mix of ‘feminine’ traits and ‘masculine’ traits. But we’re told “Girls are this way. Boys are this way. Girls do this and boys do that.’ And growing up, boys are girls are told these messages over and over again. Gender roles and expectations are enforced throughout peoples whole lives through family, parents, teachers, peers, the media, etc… Appropriate expressions of femininity are way more complicated than ‘you must wear make up everyday.’ Makeup is one example, but so are clothing choices, speech patterns, body language, activity choices, occupational choices, lifestyle choices.

    I do happen to think that masculine things are seen as generally more awesome than feminine ones… or at least things in the masculine realm are given more weight and importance than things in the feminine realm.

    For example: Schala said, “It’s because many things that are coded masculine are practical pragmatic things that end up sacrificing time and effort for others.” This is exactly what I’m talking about! Why do you think that? Things that are coded feminine… motherhood, being a caretaker, compassion, collaboration…. these things are hugely practical and worth while and involve sacrificing so much for the sake of others! Why do you see masculine things as more ‘practical and pragmatic’? Because it’s the common cultural trope that says they are more practical and pragmatic and worth our time. Things that are seen as feminine are seen as a waste of time. After all, being compassionate and collaborative in this dog-eat-dog world is a sign of weakness, right?
    And if you’re weak, you’re ‘womanly’. “Don’t be such a pussy, man.” “God, you throw like a girl.” These are supposed to be huge vile insults, especially to men but also to women now-a-days (calling a girl a girl is supposed to be offensive!). Calling someone a dick or jerk frat boy doesn’t have the same level of derision.

    Not saying that everyone thinks this way, but this line of thought is out there. And I’d say it’s out there in a really prevalent way.

  78. typhonblue says:

    @ Rachel

    “Why do you see masculine things as more ‘practical and pragmatic’?”

    Maybe because it has more to do with the dynamic between the genders then between women and children?

    Men are supposed to provide and protect women and that’s seen as masculine. Is providing and protecting for men seen as feminine? I think it’s considered the exact opposite of feminine.

  79. Rachel says:

    I wasn’t suggesting it had to do solely with the dynamic between women and children… by caretaker I didn’t mean caretaker in the domestic sense only. I meant of other people in general ways- taking care of husbands, the elderly, as nurses, social workers etc…

    I never said ‘providing and protecting’ is considered a feminine thing. I think that’s well established as within the masculine realm.

  80. typhonblue says:


    What I’m saying is that if you look at the dynamic of masculinity and femininity within the relationship between men and women (not men and children or men and the elderly or women and children or women and the elderly, or infirm, etc.) there is a definite sense that, in order to be a real man, a man has to ‘look out’ for women. Thus appropriate masculinity is associated with providing and protecting women. Even if it’s feminine to ‘look out’ for the elderly or children or the infirm, it’s not feminine to ‘look out’ for men.

    This may be where Schala was coming from. And, generally, it’s true. It’s masculine to provide for and protect women. I’ve never heard it been said that it’s feminine to provide for and protect men. (Maybe ‘give’ them food and sex, but sex is a mutual activity that no one ‘gives’ anyone and food is something all adults should be able to procure for themselves.)


    “You can’t simultaneously claim that less value on feminine things is degrading to women when individual women aren’t shunned for it and individual men are.”

    I think what she’s saying is that society devalues femininity so women being forced to be feminine debases them while men aren’t allowed to debase themselves by being feminine. How this connects with women’s greater latitude to be masculine I haven’t figured out yet; you would think that if society was invested in debasing women by forcing them into femininity it would actually force them into femininity. (And allow men to ‘slum’ as it were. Usually there’s a lot more latitude to go below your station then above it.)

    But what I don’t get is that if femininity is debasing and only arbitrarily associated with women, then why would women want to hold onto it?

  81. ozymandias42 says:

    Typhon: Because femininity is not debasing. There is nothing debasing about taking care of a child or an elderly parent or a romantic partner, enjoying stereotypically feminine activities or even wanting to make yourself physically attractive. Our culture assumes that things-arbitrarily-labeled-masculine are better than things-arbitrarily-labeled-feminine, when really both have good and bad points.

  82. Skidd says:

    “I think what she’s saying is that society devalues femininity so women being forced to be feminine debases them while men aren’t allowed to debase themselves by being feminine. How this connects with women’s greater latitude to be masculine I haven’t figured out yet; you would think that if society was invested in debasing women by forcing them into femininity it would actually force them into femininity. ”

    Yeah, I getchya. I agree on that, and I am still having problems finding where I as a woman am completely obligated to be feminine OR ELSE. I can wear gym shorts and go for a while without shaving my legs, squash bugs for people, and in some writing/gender tests, I often come off as male in my word choice. I don’t ever feel TARGETED by society. Ignored and “unsexy” on occasion, sure — but I am not being beaten up in locker rooms or forced into a feminine facade to protect myself.

    I think perhaps my problem is more women claiming supposedly effeminate activity as explicitly theirs, perhaps, and thus the reason males interested in feminine things are mocked by men and women alike is… misogyny. I can’t understand that. Women aren’t defined by what they do, and what they’ve historically done doesn’t make those things instantly female anymore to my eyes.

    Femininity isn’t debasing, that’s a given. But to progress, I think the issue is not “make feminine things awesome and equal to masculine things”, it’s that “all activities and hobbies are non-gendered”. Saying “this is feminine”, “this is masculine” will always come with this-is-what-this-gender-does connotations. It isn’t that jeans and driving a car are masculine, they’re non-gender. Liking ponies, spending time on personal grooming, the color pink, tiny dogs carried in designer handbags, and caring for children and the elderly should be equally non-gendered too. It’s not about feminine things being seen as lesser — it’s taking away feminine and masculine labels altogether. Yeah, that’s not going to happen completely soon, or even entirely, ever (Feminine hygiene products: most guys aren’t going to exactly need it)… but a girl can dream, eh?

    Even now, I live in a place with lots of Samoans and other Polynesian peoples, and seeing men go to church in lava-lavas makes me smile to see that nobody will treat them as Other for it. …Well, at least for Polynesian men.

  83. typhonblue says:


    “Because femininity is not debasing.”

    I’m not the one *saying* it’s debasing.

    “Our culture assumes that things-arbitrarily-labeled-masculine are better than things-arbitrarily-labeled-feminine, when really both have good and bad points.”

    I disagree. Femininity may be seen as ‘weaker’ then masculinity, but it is certainly not seen as more capable or even as capable of evil.

  84. Schala says:

    “I think perhaps my problem is more women claiming supposedly effeminate activity as explicitly theirs, perhaps, and thus the reason males interested in feminine things are mocked by men and women alike is… misogyny.”

    You mean like roller derby?

    They’re calling men’s leagues as “merby” even though roller derby has been co-ed since the 1930s. It’s just the resurgence in popularity that has been more with punk women.

  85. Schala says:

    What’s idiotic though is that people opposed to men’s roller derby participation, both men and women, say “go play real sports” and “don’t steal the spotlight from women”. As if it was the only possibility that men would be taken more seriously, and that women who play roller derby are “not really playing sport”.

    The reason women’s golf and basketball leagues are taken less seriously has to do with the relative youth of the league, and the fact that people perceive those sports about physical prowess tied to strength and height and nothing else. Like roller derby having strategy and other non-physical things at stake, I think women can out-compete men in many venues, by bypassing the strength of the others. In golf, having incredible aim can compensate for an incredible drive.

    Also making the league explicitly girl-only doesn’t help, when you consider the men’s leagues are not explicitly guy-only. Implicit in that is that women can’t compete on the men’s level and HAVE to be isolated to even stand a chance. Making it look like special olympics isn’t going to make it more attractive to TV networks you know.

  86. Skidd says:

    “You mean like roller derby?”

    Roller derby is something we see as rough ‘n tumble, GRRRRL POWER, though… I’m more thinking along the lines of the sort of dainty, frilly things: “These are GIIIIIRL shampoos, a guy smelling like cucumber melon is silly” or “That book’s for GIRLS”

    Say, playing the flute. I played in band all through high school — started on flute, picked up alto saxophone, and then bassoon. And while a girl can readily pick up a more “masculine” instrument like trombone or trumpet and be clapped on the back and praised for it, a guy who plays flute is instantly thought of as feminine and has his sexuality questioned and might be mocked behind his back. Never mind that the greatest flute players out there (Sir James Galway springs to mind) are male (I think it has to do with having larger hands making playing more comfortable). My little brother is similarly a woodwind player like myself, and he has avoided learning to play flute because that might make him a target, no matter how many sultry tenor sax songs he plays.

    I don’t know all that much about sports, though — years back I was an equestrian (Western-style, in 4-H.), and in that, we had maybe one guy in our riding group, maybe a half dozen boys in horse 4H in the whole county, out of over 100 or so participants. So I think there was definitely gender disparity there, especially for something so very non-gendered. (Though if we’re talking the genders of the horses, I always rode geldings. Heh.) Come to think of it, in my time doing dog agility and watching it on TV, I don’t remember seeing any male participants.

    If we’re talking sports, it’s more things like gymnastics, drill teams, cheerleading and ballet where guys are seen as deviants and targets to tease, by both males and females. Arguably guys don’t even have much access to volleyball leagues. Title IX sort of makes it the female alternative to male-only football or wrestling in most schools, no boys allowed.

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  90. BedHead says:

    I really agree with this article but my comment is actually directed at Darque.

    When you say, being a feminine woman isn’t looked down upon, I beg to differ. I am a feminist. I am also girly. I played with barbies all the time as a kid. My favorite color is pink. I wear (and enjoy) make-up. I have other interests, I also enjoy that’s what she said jokes and south park, but I wouldn’t be labeled a “tomboy”.

    I have spent pretty much my entire life being looked down upon by men and women. I have been looked down upon by women who think they are better than me because the can play sports with the guys. I have been looked down upon by men who see me as a harmless nothing, and who judge me if I cry. What hurts the most about this is that people seem to forget what feminism is. It’s about choice. I choose to act the way I do. I have a right to do so. The same way another girl has the right to play sports. NEITHER of us should be looked down upon or told to act differently. But we are. Both of us are. By two different groups of bigoted people.

    We as a people need to accept that not every girl is going to play with dolls. And we need to allow the more “butch” women to live their lives the way they want to. But we also need to accept that some little girls will play with dolls. And that there is nothing wrong with that. Essentially it is about what makes someone happy. And I’m happy with all my glittery lipstick. I shouldn’t be judged for that.

  91. Schala says:


    If the glittery lipstick and dolls and pink etc was open to boys, the notion that it can even possibly lesser would vanish. Because it wouldn’t be ‘girl only’.

  92. phinforthewin says:

    or we can all stop splitting hairs and understand that gender/sexuality are fluid things and the binary is causing people to get into a dialogue that oppresses everyone. if people weren’t so caught up in the notion that there is a dichotomy, things would be a lot simpler. people are people and we should shut the fuck up and get over it. we’re all butthurt about something. we are all victims of our society. just subvert and be happy.

    ❤ a romantiqueer and genderqueer transboi

  93. L says:

    @phinforthewin: Iignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. Complacency is what every system of oppression wants.

    Great, great article, though, and fantastic commentary. Found you through fuckyeahfeminists on tumblr, and now I’ll be following the blog for sure. :]

  94. okelay says:

    You raise some some decent points but as a tomboy I can assure you it is not always approved by parents. my parents and my sisters have always tried to get me to be more feminine. to play with dolls instead of legos, with more girls instead of boys, to wear skirts and dresses insteads of jeans and sweats, to wear boots instead of chucks, to wear make up, to let my hair grow out and so on. I have to negotiate with Mum to buy the clothes I like, to accept something she likes in order to get her to buy me something I like.

    so I don’t think being a tomboy is that easy. it’s ok when you are a kid, but once you’ve reached puberty and beyond you are expected to grow out of it.

    I have to go have tea now, will continue reading this later.

  95. Schala says:

    “so I don’t think being a tomboy is that easy. it’s ok when you are a kid, but once you’ve reached puberty and beyond you are expected to grow out of it. ”

    Do you think being a feminine boy is ever acceptable? Even as a 6 years old? Let alone a 14 years old.

  96. ozymandias42 says:

    okelay: Of course women get shit for being tomboys! However, women get shit for defying gender roles, and men get shit for defying gender roles AND being feminine, which is icky and evil. It is far worse in most circumstances to be a feminine boy than a masculine girl.

  97. Clarence says:


    I second that. I’ve long been a tomboy fan. Boys who are effeminate , on the other hand, get the perjorative “sissy” and get beat up and socially excluded a lot by both other boys and girls though a substantial minority of girls seem ok with it.

  98. Jim says:

    “so I don’t think being a tomboy is that easy.”

    I can see that, and not just from the bit you mention here. While it may be that tomboys don’t get the same amount of physical violence that feminine boys get (and that may not be true either for all I know) I am sure they come in for quite a bit of emotional violence from peers. And even when they get accepted and approved of by men, it seesm to be in a kind of a mascot role. It’s like Annie Oaklwey, who was treated like an entetaining oddity. When Sarah Palin does her Mama Grizzly schtick, she is working this angle.

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  100. Dollywitch says:

    I’ve been reading this and I think some people are missing the point here.

    First off I’d like to say that I’m coming from a perspective that is sceptical of “Masculism” and a little bemused as to why people here think they compliment each other – in theory, yes, but most “Masculist” discussion I see online drifts very quickly towards complaining about feminists. Feminism may drift towards “man hating” in the more extreme fringes, but it has very noble roots and serves a purpose.

    However, I feel the need to explain a little with regards this concept of “Femmephobia”, as a femme transwoman. I think this article and replies may have taken a more “Masculist” outlook on it, but I do support the notion that it exists and is a serious issue for men who wish to express themselves as they see fit.

    But it’s a problem for women too. I want to make my main point here – there is a degree of “Femmephobia”. Things traditionally associated with women are seen as weak and silly. People then say “But people don’t bully women for being feminine, aside from radfems”. But the thing is – they don’t *because women are already seen as weaker*.

    Now there’s a degree of contradiction here, and the point has been made that a lot of effort has been put into fighting women’s rights and women’s battles since traditionally they were quite poor, and men are still privileged compared to women. That is a factor bringing women up – but the fact that they’re women still brings them down.

    And one way in which people resolve this contradiction is to associate traditional, feminist imagery with female “Weakness” and masculine women as being “strong”.

    My main worry especially when I read about the new trend of tomboy-ish trans(which I of course wholly support in theory) is that we’re simply as a global culture getting out of being “pretty”. I don’t just mean in terms of hair removal, make-up etc. but that we’re becoming stylistically plainer and I don’t think that’s a noble goal at all. I think this is something feminism sometimes over-looks. I think that having diverse and “pretty” presenting people is a very positive thing in terms of cultural mentality. Many studies have been done in terms of aesthetics and their effect on the mood.

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