Trigger warning for brief mentions of rape. Mod Note: If you want to go argue about trans people and cissexism, argue on this thread.
I have recently been doing a lot of posts about femmephobia, i.e., the cultural fear, hatred and devaluation of femininity (i.e. weakness, vulnerability and various traits that attempt to appeal to the powerful, such as beauty and nurturance) in favor of masculinity (i.e. power). In the comments section I’ve noticed a couple of misconceptions which I would like to clear up.
Femmephobia Is Not The Only Gender-Based Oppression
I may have not made that as clear as it could have been in the original post, but I guess I thought that would be obvious. In addition to femmephobia, we have:
- Gender role enforcement, the idea that men should be masculine and women feminine, and if they aren’t they should be shamed into being it or they are weird.
- Misandry/misogyny, the idea that people of one gender are awful because they are of that gender.
- Homophobia, the idea that two people of the same gender having sex is totally gross.
- Cissexism, the idea that you are “really” whatever gender the doctor said you were when you were born, and your hormonal profile, bodily appearance, social gender and strongly-held beliefs on the matter make no difference.
- Rape culture, the cluster of beliefs and attitudes that tend to make rape and sexual assault more common in Western culture than many other crimes are.
- Add your own in the comments!
Now, sometimes these intersect with each other in interesting and exciting ways. For instance, cissexism and gender role enforcement interact with each other when trans people have to display stereotypical traits of their own gender in order to be allowed to change their body as they see fit. This doesn’t mean that the “root cause” of cissexism is gender role enforcement, or the root cause of gender role enforcement is cissexism; it means they play into each other and end up creating an even suckier situation than either could do individually.
The same thing is true with femmephobia. Homophobes think all people of the same gender having sex with each other is gross (homophobia); however, they tend to talk about how gay men having sex with each other is gross way more often than they talk about how lesbians having sex with each other is gross, because the gay men are becoming like women, and that is super-gross (femmephobia). Rape apologists think that men can’t be raped (rape culture), and when they are raped by being penetrated it means that they’re girly because only girls are penetrated, and when are raped by being enveloped it means they’re girls because real men enjoy any sex they happen to have (femmephobia). Femmephobia is not the cause of all gender-based oppressions; it is just a factor that plays into some of them.
Femmephobia Is Not Misogyny In Disguise
Femmephobia is not some super-secret feminist way of saying “all men’s oppresion is sekritly about women anyway.” Hatred of the feminine is not hatred of women. There are many women who are not feminine; there are many men who are feminine.
In fact, femmephobia disadvantages men far more than it disadvantages women. If women are too feminine, they get hit with femmephobia (a very conventionally attractive woman is generally considered to be a bitch and a moron); if women are too masculine, they get hit with gender role enforcement (my mom tells me it’s gross I don’t shave my armpits). However, the huge realm of behavior between too feminine and too masculine is available for women to pursue– you can put on makeup and fashionable clothing every morning or have short hair and wear blue jeans, and no one will criticize you.
However, if a man is feminine at all, he will get hit with both femmephobia and gender role enforcement. Like musical theater? Want to take care of your appearance and pay attention to your outfit? Need medical attention for a physical or, God forbid, mental problem? Well, you’d better be very comfortable in your gender identity, because large parts of the culture will be convinced you are somehow less of a man because of it, and being less of a man is clearly the worst thing you could possibly be ever.