The greater the sex-based dimorphism in commercial products, the easier it is to rationalize sex-based social discrimination. For it is upon the supposed enormous differences between men and women that our culture bases its wide approval of the concept that women’s essence justifies our ghettoization in the sex caste.
Picture disposable razors, molded from manly black or blue plastic or from feminine pink and lavender plastic. Clothes, wristwatches, rubber flipflops, deodorant, greeting cards—and now, Twisty reports, there's even a Russian vodka with an hourglass figure to its lavender bottle, wearing a Marilyn Monroe skirt. Can pastel girly beer be far behind?
Behold the neat trick. First, you make women act like simpletons, broodmares, janitors, mannequins, and sex slaves before you grant them social approval. You call this behavior “femininity” and explain that it is their essential nature, and that any deviation from the program will be punished. Then you infantilize and ridicule the ones who get it right, and vilify and abuse the ones who get it wrong (you can also vilify and abuse the ones who get it right, because, let’s be honest; the world is your oyster).
With so much riding on it, whether femininity is performed right or wrong is an issue of enormous concern to women. That’s where the Empowerful Pink Marketing Juggernaut comes it. They package femininity, changing it a bit every so often so that the old version eventually becomes obsolete, and sell it to women as insurance against getting it wrong. This pink capitalist enterprise has the dual effect of diverting women’s income back to the male-dominated megatheocorporatocracy, while simultaneously reinforcing women’s investment in the bogus feminine identity and marking (with pink, the color of female infancy) the objects tainted with girl-cooties. The woman festooned with pink accessories, therefore, may be easily identified from a distance as a friend to Dude Nation.
And the reverse is true—the woman who doesn't go in for traditionally feminine clothes, who doesn't have a high-maintenance hairstyle, who doesn't spend time and money on cosmetics, and who eschews high-heeled shoes is marked as a threat and often deemed to be in need of fixing. "With a perm, you could be really cute." "A little eyeliner would really bring your eyes out." "She needs to wax those caterpillars sprouting over her eyes." "She could stand to lose 10 pounds." "Wearing heels would visually lengthen your legs." "Man, she's ugly." "What a dog." You've probably said something like this at least once, and quite possibly been on the receiving end of this sort of judgment or "helpful" suggestion, aimed at wedging each of us into the femininity mold rather than helping us achieve our potential as humans.
Femininity, in fact, can’t even be practiced without stuff (which is one way of debunking the argument that it is an inherited sex trait). It is simply not possible for a woman without makeup and deodorant and lingerie and kitten heels and diet pills and clothes without pockets and anti-wrinkle cream that promises “glowing skin” and self-help books explaining the best ways to suck up to men and jewelry and razors and tweezers and lemon-scented cleaning products and boxes of Lean Cuisine in the freezer — all stuff that must be bought — to be fully feminine.
This is not to say that I will stop shaving my legs or getting highlights, or that I will reject any compliments about a new haircut or cute outfit. But I won't kid myself that I'm furthering the cause of feminism by playing along with femininity and reaping the benefits.