Most of us are clear on the idea that patriarchies are defined by sexism… In our American patriarchy, however, this is …perhaps even superseded by something called androcentrism: the valuing of all-things-masculine over all-things-feminine. We know we live in an androcentric society because masculinized things (playing sports, being a doctor, being self-sufficient) are imagined to be good for everyone (we encourage both our sons and daughters to do these things), but feminized things (playing with dolls, being a nurse, and staying at home to raise children) are considered to be good only for women.
I’ll admit I hadn’t really noticed the extent of this until she pointed it out. It’s not immediately clear though why this would be unfair toward women, rather than men. She explains elsewhere:
Comparably, women have got it good. We’re allowed to knit and play soccer, be a mom and be a lawyer, take dance and karate, wear skirts and pants!…How do we make sense of this? Crash course: Femininity is just for chicks. When men do feminine things, they are debasing themselves. Masculinity is awesome and for everyone. When women do masculine things, they’re awesome. This is sexism: Masculinity rules, femininity drools. Men are encouraged to stay away from femininity, so their individual choices are constrained, but they also are staying away from something debasing. In contrast, women are required to do a least some femininity, so women are required to debase themselves, at least a little bit, even as they are given more options.
Another possibility is that femininity is debasing for men, and awesome for women. Otherwise, how can one account for women doing so much femininity? So eagerly, so expensively? According to the above, they are required to do at least some, but shouldn’t women be consistently pushing this supposed boundary to do as little as possible? I don’t see this at all.
Consistent with this, and not with Lisa’s view, this vast majority of women who are actively unnecessarily feminine do not appear to be at any popularity disadvantage relative to their more tomboy counterparts. In fact they appear roughly to be more well liked as they display more feminine characteristics. Can Lisa’s view account for these observations? If not, it seems that men are the ones who lose out here, just like women lose out in cultures where dressing or acting like a man is considered disgusting for them.