Appropriate for male and female people

Another thought has been bobbing around just at the edge of my vision for awhile. I’m reading (I think for the second time) a brilliant piece by Rebecca Reilly-Cooper, A gender idealist in a non-ideal world, at More Radical With Age. She says something there that brought the thought bobbing at the edge of my vision out to right in front of me. She is talking about gender as a socially constructed, externally imposed hierarchy that operates to prescribe and proscribe certain modes of behaviour, and the way it limits our freedom and potential.

We are saturated by gender in this non-ideal world. It is everywhere, so much so that most of us cannot see it: it’s the air we breathe, the water we swim in. Our entire social order is organised around the idea that different forms of behaviour and appearance are appropriate for male and female people. This idea has shaped our history and our politics. It is reflected in our language and embodied in our culture. It is the reason why gender non-conforming behaviour is still so heavily sanctioned: why homosexuality is still widely stigmatised; why rejection of feminine beauty norms comes at such a high price; why assertive, powerful women are socially shunned and ostracised.

Shunned and ostracised. Those words have a new resonance for me these days – they grab my attention more because they apply to me in a new way. Mouthy, assertive women are shunned and ostracised. (Notice I don’t call myself powerful. Mouthy, yes, powerful, no.) Well yes, we are, aren’t we.

It’s interesting to me that Ally Fogg flies under everyone’s radar at Freethought Blogs. It’s interesting to me that apparently the bloggers there haven’t felt the need to comb through his Facebook activities looking for incriminating “likes” or friends or jokes or groups. It’s interesting to me that it was so urgent to destroy me when it wasn’t so urgent to destroy anyone else. Ally’s always been quite open about the fact that he disagrees with most FT bloggers on a lot of issues about women and men, and that they would probably find material that irritated them if they went looking for it. And yet apparently no one has. Funny, that, isn’t it.

So anyway my point is here’s this network that prides itself on being all yay social justice and yay feminism and yay mouthy assertive women…

…and yet the network just succeeded in driving away by far the mouthiest (measuring by hits) woman it had. Mouthy, assertive women are shunned and ostracised, even by a putative social justice feminist network.

Funny how that works.

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