Hi there, stars of the Femme Galaxy!
My name is Julia, I blog at Femme on a Mission, and I'm very excited to be writing my first post here. The title of my column is "Femme in the Face of Fire," and I will be addressing some of the challenges that face those of us who embrace femme identity.
Today I want to discuss an issue that was brought to the forefront of my attention after reading this article, written by a feminist blogger. In it, she bewails the perceived self-infantilization of women who dress femininely.
So here's the thing - the infantilization of women is definitely a problem, and it definitely happens. (Think "sexy schoolgirls.")
But I don't think it's fair to say women who wear rompers or who appreciate, to use an example from the article, "rainbows, Girl Scout cookies, and laughing a lot" are acting like little girls. (I'm not sure what it is about laughing that the author sees as either childish or feminine... It's as if she is saying, And no more fun!)
Being a woman who happens to dress femininely is not self-infantilization; it's being a woman who happens to dress femininely. Infantilization has to do with the sexualization of childhood imagery, and it seems that often the feminine is being mislabeled as childish. Contrary to the assertion of the article in question, miniskirts are not a symbol of prepubescence but a feminine style of dress.
This is infantilization:
This femininity-bashing - and particularly from a feminist perspective - is frustratingly ubiquitous. Ironically, there is something misgonynistic about conflating the feminine with the infantile. Femininity is not the same as childishness, and I resent the implication that the traditionally feminine is immature, weak, and juvenile. There is nothing inherently more "adult" about wearing a neutral-colored pant-suit instead of a pink frilly dress.
This femme is tired of defending femininity against the claims of the greater competence and maturity of the masculine or androgynous.
So listen up, femininity-bashing feminists: If you want to stop women from being infantilized, you could start by allowing them to choose what they want to wear, instead of telling them what they shouldn't.