Femininity, Being 'Gay Enough', and Policing Gender.

This is a post about intersectional feminism, being LGBT+ enough, femininity, and the policing of gender.

Hey, friends! I wanted to talk about something a little different today, prompted by International Women's Day, and the current political climate regarding gender equality. If you are a female-identifying person, or indeed a non-binary identifying person, you are probably painfully aware of the policing that comes along with merely existing in your gender. Although this has dangerous effects on so many areas of womanhood and personhood in general, I wanted to take a moment to specifically address the idea of femininity.

I definitely fall on the feminine side of the spectrum, both in a physical presentation sense and in the energy I carry with me. This has been the case for most of my life, save for a few instances where I refused to engage with the colour pink or anything deemed 'girly' - Hiya, internalised misogyny! - but no matter how I felt or presented, I always felt that I was being regulated in some way or another.

The masculine brain in our society often rewards females who fit our feminine stock character, naming them a 'good woman', but in the next breath will write off their interests and perceived experiences with a dismissive sneer of "girly shit". Conversely, a woman who is 'one of the boys' - what an absurd term? - can be praised for her dismissal of things deemed superficial just as easily as she is questioned of her motives (surely this must all be to impress men, yeah??? Nope). Similar policing is applied to those lovely folk who do not identify with a binary gender, and it's equally as invalidating and generally ridiculous.

As a gay female, I have particularly struggled with the idea of femininity. I've always loved beauty, flowers, and a good maxi skirt - all things perceived to be feminine - and although I'm never caught without a (faux!) leather jacket and boots to match, I still felt that I presented too 'girly' to be gay. This notion was reinforced by well-meaning friends who continually echoed the sentiment "But you don't look gay", and I felt as if I couldn't embrace my feminine side for a while there. Thanks to the wonderful web, I discovered other frustrated individuals in the same position as me, facing the dilemma of Femme Invisibility (I wrote a full article about the issue here!), and embraced my peach lipgloss once more.

Of course, there is more to the feminine than these superficial things, but they were symbolic in accepting a side of myself I had felt pressured to lock away. There are unlimited ways in which to present yourself and still be 'LGBT+ enough' (spoiler alert: being LGBT+ makes you LGBT+ enough), and in the same way, there are no wrong ways to be feminine. Or, to not be feminine.

The tiny boxes we so often try to stuff femininity and womanhood into went out of style in the 1950's, and although the poodle skirts of the era may be iconic, holding onto these gender roles is a disservice to the multifaceted nature of being human.

You do not have to meet a feminine quota to exist as a woman, or any gender. Similarly, you do not have to reject the typically feminine to exist as the 'cool girl' stereotype - you know, that 'not like the others', manic pixie dream girl figure created by men who do not want to have to emotionally invest in a person? Yeah, that one.

Similarly still, you do not have to identify or present as a female in order to embrace femininity.

No matter what gender you identify as, you are not just allowed to embrace yourself as a multidimensional person, you owe it to yourself to do so. The shape of your genitalia is not a binding contract, it does not contain watertight clauses outlining likes, dislikes, personality traits, and other things we have assigned to a binary system.

This little post has been more of a stream of consciousness than anything else, and I'm certainly not breaking any ground here, but if you take anything from my brain words, please just know that you are an ever-evolving being and forcing yourself into a pre-conceived mould will never do you justice.

Also, gender and femininity - much like time - are just concepts and absolutely nothing is real on this strange universe we inhabit. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find a paper bag to breathe into.



Thank you so much for reading, have a beautiful day!

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