Is your lipstick a tool of the patriarchy? Is the pursuit of beauty anti-feminist? Before you answer these questions, consider this:
It is the masculine values that prevail. Speaking crudely, football and sports are “important”; the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes “trivial.” This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a hair salon.
I didn’t write the words above (except for the bit about the hair salon). They’re paraphrased from Virginia Woolf’s watershed feminist essay, A Room of One’s Own. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately beacause I believe the question “Is beauty anti-feminist?” repeats the privileging of the masculine that Woolf critiques.
Sublime Femmeness embraces the power of femme beauty and rethinks its politics:
- We need to separate the beauty industry and anti-feminist beauty standards (e.g. whiteness as beauty) from the pursuit of beauty and femininity, which feminism should elevate.
- When a feminist or anyone else denigrates makeup, fashion etc, what this person is really saying is that the things that matter to (many) women are trivial and superficial.
- “The beautiful” is much more complex and varied than we have been led to believe.
- It’s our imperfections that make us beautiful.
What else should be added to this list? Does beauty and its pleasures shape your experience of femme?