So, Bluestockings has told a friend of mine that she intends to issue a public apology, so standby for a link to that when it happens. But I did want to crosspost this.
Bluestockings.ca just published a blog post talking about how femme people don’t have a place in nerd culture.
This is my unimpressed face.
First, don’t think I haven’t noticed how no WOC characters have made the cut in your idealized picture of womanhood.
Second, I think a legion of cosplayers would disagree with you.
Third, let me just say that if your opening paragraph references Buffy, Willow, Zoe Washburn, and the Charmed sisters and the point you are trying to make is that no geek culture heroes are “femme,” then the yardstick you are using is way too restrictive.
Could you please explain to me how a cheerleader, the adorable pixie-like lesbian, and three witches who are never seen without full make up and well-coifed hair are not femme? Not to mention Zoe Washburn whose lipstick and eyeliner are always on point while she kicks ass.
Is your point that femme people can’t kick ass? Because I think Agent Peggy Carter would disagree with that. And don’t tell me she’s not femme, for fuck’s sake, Besame has curated a line of LIPSTICK around her.
I know, because I own it.
Psst, I don’t know how to tell you this, but a lot of people consider make up, of which eyeliner is a part, and even, dare I say, jeans feminine.
Now, I talk about Exceptional Girl-ism as a stage most nerd girls go through.
For most of us it is exactly that, A STAGE. By stage, I mean one period in a person’s life that doesn’t necessarily reflect on the rest of that life. It sounds like you went through it, and have maybe not come all the way out the other side just yet.
Look, even in my Exceptional Girl phase I was really fucking femme. Yeah, I swore like a sailor (still do), but I also never left the house without make up and my hair done. Yes, I wore jeans, with hot pink, ruffled, gauzy midriff shirts. One of the things I loved about discovering SF/F conventions was I finally had somewhere to wear four inch stiletto leather thigh high boots. My troupe of friends and I nearly always wore make up, cleavage baring shirts, skirts or dresses and heels.
Even now, when I demo games for companies, I tell them specifically that I will not wear their t-shirts. I dress femme as fuck to teach people how play RPGs, because yes, geek culture does need to be more welcoming to women.
You don’t achieve that by shitting on any version of womanhood that you don’t like.
And now we get to the part that really frosted my cookies.
You call out a gender non-binary (enby) game designer for writing a game that features enby, trans, and cis woman characters, for “erasing” the femme. And also cite trans, enby and genderqueer folk at the conventions you go to as not “femme,” or only doing it for “fun.”
That is some TERF-level bullshit.*
The majority of the femme-est people I know are trans women, because in this society they have to be. Because trans women who don’t pass get MURDERED.
Many genderqueer folks are femme as fuck, because that is how they present, and you do not have the right to blow off their gender presentation because you don’t think it counts.
As far as The Watch is concerned, yet again, the culture says if someone doesn’t see the representation they want, to make their own. So they do. They make the thing that they and other people like them want, and you act like an asshole because they didn’t make that thing they made for themselves, and others like them, for you.
I hate to tell you this, but not everything is for you.
And dare I say, there are in fact several games, particularly indie games that welcome if not explicitly presuppose femininity. Velvet Glove, Tales of the Fisherman’s Wife, Bluebeard’s Bride, Trollbabe, pre-5th ed D&D, Hellcats and Hockeysticks, Best Friends,etc…
Also, why the fuck do you consider the women of Nightwitches to be bad ass AND femme, when your opening paragraph pretty much states you find that to be impossible? Could you please explain yourself? Because bullshit.
You say you’ve never seen a Barbarian Woman be a victim.
A. If your definition of femme means being a victim, you are doing so very much of everything all fucking wrong.
To be fair, I suspect that is not what you meant to say, however, it is definitely how that came across.
B. Valeria in Conan.
And I say that if your definition of femme and feminine means that a Barbarian Woman, no matter how hard she ascribes to the feminine standards of her society, can’t be femme, that you are doing it wrong. You are relying on a standard of femininity even more restrictive than most dudes, and that is some bullshit right there.
Femme is highly subjective. And no, you are not the arbiter for everyone else. You are not the boss of “femme.”
Also, you don’t see Inara as “capable?” Really? Did you watch the entire series? Because I don’t think you did. Because she is one hell of a fencer, strategist, and exceptionally capable in several other ways.
You state that “Our view of femininity, our treatment of feminine characters and feminine people is pretty despicable.”
Yes, and you are perpetuating that treatment with your narrow yardstick for what constitutes femme, and all of your reasons why people who don’t ascribe to your narrow definition aren’t femme. YOU are part of the problem.
Yes, gaming culture really needs to pull its head out of its ass, but you don’t get it to do that by shitting all over trans, enby and other genderqueer folks.
Which you did.
You don’t get that by excluding, subconsciously or nor not, women of color from your definition of femme.
Which you did.
You don’t get that by announcing that you have the definition of femininity and if we (other women) don’t agree with it, we are part of the problem.
Which you did.
Kaylee in Firefly was amazing, and feminine and capable, and you don’t even fucking mention her.
Referring to Inara as a sex-bot is repulsive and dismissive of the actual character. (Yes, Whedon’s stuck in the 90s “feminism” is problematic as fuck, but I’m working with the examples you seem to be familiar with).
You ignore so many representations of the femme and badass that I wonder if you are keeping yourself willfully ignorant on purpose or just living under a rock.
Agent Carter, Pearl from Steven Universe, Moana, Elsa and Anna in Frozen, Merida in Brave, Shuri, Kamala Khan, Storm, Nakia, Ayo, the entirety of the My Little Pony-verse, Mabel in Gravity Falls… There are so many examples that apparently didn’t make the cut when it comes to your yardstick that I’m frankly puzzled by who actually would?
Apart from Black Widow… sigh…
Wait, didn’t you infer up top that kicking ass was anti-femme? And yet…
You really need to take some long moments to sit the fuck down, and think hard about this post and what it says about you that you felt the need to shit on trans, enby and genderqueer people, and couldn’t list a single WOC who meets your definitions of femininity.
I am not here to co-sign your “white feminist” racism, nor your internalized misogyny, queerphobia or transphobia.
*TERF = Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists. They also come down against genderqueer and non-binary folk, because assholes.