Week 10 Day 2 Discussion Question 2

Some feminists argue that participating in feminine beauty culture makes one complicit in misogyny.  In “Trans Woman Manifesto,” Julia Serano defends the feminine beauty practices of femme trans women.  She writes:

We must challenge all those who insist that women who act or dress in a feminine manner necessarily take on a submissive or passive posture. For many of us, dressing or acting feminine is something we do for ourselves, not for others. It is our way of reclaiming our own bodies and fearlessly expressing our own personalities and sexualities. It is not us, but rather those who foolishly assume that our feminine style is a signal that we sexually subjugate ourselves to men, who are the ones guilty of trying to reduce our bodies to the mere status of playthings. (“Trans Woman Manifesto,” 549)

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Week 10 Day 2 Discussion Question 2

  • April 13, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    Julia Serano states that appealing to ones own femininity in dress or manner allows trans women to reclaim their bodies and express their own personalities and sexualities. Julia explains in the “Trans Woman Manifesto” that trans women face a very specific type of transphobia and misogyny in intersection which she refers to as trans misogyny. Because our society continues to exist as a male-centered gender hierarchy, trans women are perceived as a threat to both the female male binary and the masculinity to femininity superiority. Serano explains that in this society there is no “greater threat than the existence of trans women” who “choose to be female.” In this environment of trans misogyny, to dress according to ones femininity is not an act of submission or complacency in misogyny. Rather, to choose to appeal to ones own femininity in public dress and image despite the threat of trans misogyny is an act of strength and fearlessness against those very threats.
    Later in the manifesto, Serano says “those of us who are feminine are forced to define ourselves on our own terms and develop our own sense of self-worth. It takes guts, determination, and fearlessness for those of us who are feminine to lift ourselves up out of the inferior meanings that are constantly being projected onto us.” I agree with Serano’s claims that a centering trans women is vital in the work of feminism that needs to be done to challenge the unequal perceptions of femininity and masculinity, in order to eventually say that most people believe that femininity is masculinity’s equal, a statement far from the truth of trans misogyny.

  • April 11, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    I have always felt that one of the biggest issues with feminism in all eras, or ‘waves’, is how many scapegoat other women and blame them for issues they have with society. The idea this is based on is that all women must work together to defeat sexism and misogyny, but this completely ignores the fact that women have different experiences and different problems and instead typically prioritizes white, cisgender issues. The cisgender women that blame trans women for feeding into patriarchal ideas of femininity are ignoring the primary ideal of feminism, which is to make all genders equal, regardless of gender identity.
    I also believe that the instinct to blame trans women instead of men is a form of internalized misogyny they refuse to acknowledge, as they are either ignoring the gender identity of these trans women and are taking out their frustrations on people they see as men or are choosing to blame women for an issue that is much larger than them, as well as completely ignoring their life experiences and putting other women down.
    Regarding this quote specifically, it touches on the fact that some feminists choose to judge trans women for the way they physically express themselves, as typically ‘feminine’ ways of dressing is submissive. Julia Serano summs it up perfectly, saying that it is a way for them to reclaim their bodies and expressing their personalities and sexualities, as trans women have to combat transphobia as well as sexism, and this typically takes the form of people dismissing their identities and reducing them to their biological sex. Feminine forms of dressing can be seen by cisgender women as submissive as that is how they are expected to dress, and by dressing differently they are rebelling against societies expectations, but for transgender women it is the opposite.

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