It’s not uncommon for followers of a movement to contort and narrow the words of those who head movements. People struggle with hearing what’s being said and instead choose to hear what they want to hear. They decide to disagree with the speaker before they’ve even spoken or will whole heartedly agree with what they thought they heard. This occurs often in the black communities’ femininity movement which has led people to narrow the scope of what it means to be feminine.
In a previous article where we discussed the Goddess archetype, we also briefly touched on toxic femininity which can express itself in the form of perpetual self-infantilization or the repression of negative emotions. Some of you hear someone saying that you should be more feminine and take from it that you shouldn’t be angry or knowledgeable and should be hyper conscientious about every strand of hair on your head.
The only time you can sweat is at the gym and wearing pants is a no-no. These ideas about what it means to be feminine are regressive at worst and arbitrary at best and I’m not sure as to why you would cage yourself in with superfluous details like that. I know this next statement goes without saying but I’d just like to make it clear that you can still be feminine and be yourself. However, first a lesson in respectability politics.
If I Comply, It Will Be Alright
There’s this idea by those in positions of power and those who internalize the messages of the powerful, that “if only a marginalized group,” (black women and girls, say) “behaved better in public and presented a better image to the outside world, their lot in life would improve.” This idea is at the heart of respectability politics and this article here expounds upon it in more detail if you’re interested.
I can understand it happening on other femininity focused channels, but it always surprises me when the DDS platform and its extensions are brought into discussions about platforms that practice respectability politics when it exists to this day because, in part, it seeks to remedy the blatant issues that are created by respectability politics. It might come as a shock to those who haven’t been following from the start, but the YouTube channel and DDS have on many occasions addressed the very topic of telling dark skin black women to acquiesce the demands of the privileged in order to not be treated so poorly by society.
Those opinions have and will continue to be challenged because we already know the game. DDS platforms have routinely addressed the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” nature of being a dark-skinned black woman and it comes as new information to no one that should dark-skinned black women en masse be the “perfect” idea of what a woman should be, that we will still be treated poorly because colorism (what this platform was founded on addressing) makes it so that dark-skinned black women are the last to be considered for any metric.
There already exists on this planet more than enough dark-skinned black women who have no issue with being feminine at all and they are still looked over and ignored by mainstream media because we already know that globally, the mammy-esque, unhealthy, hypermasculine black woman is what others want to see when they look at us and what others want us to see when we look at ourselves.
People have come to this platform because they feel just as a growing number of dark-skinned black women feel which is that they’re fed up with treating themselves and viewing themselves as masculine. It truly disturbs me that some women can see a group of women feeling empowered and revitalized by taking more time to pamper, primp, and treat themselves and call that backwards when there’s nothing more backwards than seeing women engaging in traditionally feminine acts of self-care and terming it problematic.
The Phallic-God-Mother Fallacy
What most people have their panties in a bunch about is that there’s a considerable number of women who appear to view femininity as this phallic god mother that will grant a woman the guy of her dreams if she does these specific things. Not only is this perspective reductionist of women (because thinking that a woman is incapable of recognizing that there is nothing that can guarantee she will end up with exactly what she wants is to belittle her intelligence) but I’m growing more tired by the day of people having an issue with members of the opposite sex making an effort to attract one another.
Women want to be with men and men want to be with women. Get over it. The Phallic-God-Mother fallacy seeks to make women who value femininity as these boy crazy women who will repress everything it is about themselves if it means they can be chose. When in reality, like everyone else on this planet, black women too think about dating and men, and making an effort to increase her chances of getting what she wants out of the dating world.
I won’t pretend like there aren’t women who have a platform that caters to pick-me’s and instructs women on how to perpetuate toxic femininity, but DDS has never been one of them. Toxic masculinity is the buzzword of the decade but there’s such a think as toxic femininity too. It’s when someone’s ideas about being a woman and femininity in general are rooted in extremely narrow and inhuman ideas on what a woman is and how a woman ought to express herself.
I’ve heard and read women say things like: “Feminine and angry shouldn’t even be in the same sentence with each other.” , “Feminine women don’t get angry.”, “It’s not ladylike be so upset. You don’t look cute with your face like that.” This idea about how a woman ought to express herself denies women the ability to feel their full range of emotions.
Anything that asks that you deny yourself your own humanity (what makes you human, like having emotions) is a hazardous philosophy. Toxic femininity also appears in the form of women being expected to never grow up or become well rounded human beings. She must never explore her sexuality, make mistakes in life, nor have a past that isn’t academic or childish. She should be a woman in her mid 20’s who’s never done anything in order to be acceptable dating and especially marriage material.
Women can’t live and enjoy life without being looked at as odd, damaged, or dangerous. Never let any one man or woman tell you that you aren’t a woman nor feminine just because you don’t embody the manic-pixie-dream-girl aesthetic. It’s regressive and pitiful. You can practice safe sex, have standards, morals, and self-control without the infantilization of yourself or other women.
This has been addressed before but it’s a harsh truth I think black women should remember whenever that woman at the office is being nasty towards you for always coming into work looking your best and when a man (or worse you’re mom’s aunties, and sisters because we know how pick-me the previous generation was) is belittling you for not wanting to be with him because he offers nothing more than basic community dick, and when the woman who’s pulled herself out of poverty with 7 kids is belittling you for not wanting to start a family with “a great guy” because y’all aren’t married yet.
That harsh truth is that society takes issue with black women having standards and boundaries. To everyone (including each other) we are supposed to accept whatever falls in our lap and be glad it’s there. We should not aim for stability and should always be willing to give a bum a chance because we’re not worthy enough for what everyone else has. There is this strong and visceral reaction to a dark-skinned black woman declaring that she is too good for something.
They will even resort to calling your refusal to play the bleak role society has casted you in as problematic when, in reality, black women are just getting tired of being given the same old roles in life as we are in movies. No one is being hoodwinked by the femininity movement. There is no Phallic God mother… we know, but thanks for your concern, I guess.
Lilith is a blogger with an emphasis in writing and reflecting upon social agendas that effect black women. When not at her computer writing she is more than likely still at her computer, programming. On the rare occasion that Lilith isn’t at her laptop you can attempt to find her exploring the Chicago food scene or attending workshops in creative writing.