Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guest-Posting at Feministe

In my excitement over les fran├žaises and The Illusionists, I nearly forgot something else I'm excited for: I'm guest-posting over at Feministe this week and next! I'm honored to be a temporary part of their team.

With all the things out there that speak more directly to feminism on a political level—like, you know, attempting to defund Planned Parenthood*—I sometimes worry about my topics here being shrugged off by feminists who are doing righteous work in the political sphere. So when I was approached by Feministe, a site that makes wonderful efforts to represent a variety of voices and perspectives and which is hardly a "lipstick feminist"** party, it felt like an enormous validation that what I'm doing over here is feminist work that does have a place in a larger conversation. (One of the first people I told about getting my first magazine job, at CosmoGirl, was a fellow intern at Ms. who sneered at me and said, "I'd never work for them." So perhaps I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the feminist importance of this work.)

In any case, my first post over there could well serve as a thesis for why I do this site, even as insightful commenters over there already have me spinning my wheels again—as do all of the commenters here. Honestly, I'm hesitant to put any sort of definitive statement about my beliefs on beauty on there, because they're constantly in flux, in part because of the engagement that happens over here—I feel terrifically lucky to have found readers who are on-board with what I'm doing here, and who continually keep the discussion evolving. Thank you.

Today's Feministe post, about men and makeup, is something I've been thinking about for a while. I'll be cross-posting it here tomorrow so that drop-ins to The Beheld might stumble upon it—but if you just can't wait to read it, be my guest! A preview:

I'm wary of men's beauty products being heralded as a means of gender subversion for two major reasons: 1) I don’t think that men’s cosmetics use in the aggregate is actually any sort of statement on or attempt at gender play; rather, it’s a repackaging and reinforcement of masculinity, and 2) warmly welcoming (well, re-welcoming, as we’ll see) men into the arena where they’ll be judged for their appearance efforts is a victory for nobody—except the companies doing the product shill.

*Which totally gave me a low-cost pelvic exam when I really needed it and which had nothing to do with pregnancy and so this defunding makes less than zero sense to me even for people who are totally anti-choice but I'll leave discussion of this to people who are better informed than I.

**Do lipstick feminists exist? It seems like a term dreamed up by people who don't like feminists—but if it's a thing, well, I guess I'm pretty much the epitome of one.


  1. Wowie shazaam, those Feministe readers are a tough crowd. I skimmed through all the comments and your replies, and while it was highly educational... ... it reminded me why I so seldom talk about anything Serious on my blog. Having to face that much disapproval and questioning in one day would have left ME crying in a corner.

    Congratulations on your fortitude and willingness to learn.

  2. I think your blog is brilliant. And, if there is a such thing as a lipstick feminist, shouldn't all feminists embrace her? I think I might be one as well. You engage your audience, you provoke dialogue and you do so in a way that a broad spectrum of ladies can identify with. That is pretty awesome feminism if you ask me.

  3. Rebekah, thank you! They certainly are a tough crowd. I'm lucky in that even though I'm a sensitive soul, when it comes to my work I'm pretty thick-skinned (not sure how that worked out but I'm glad it did). Believe me, it has made me appreciate my readers (like vous) in a whole new way--like, even when readers here disagree, there's a mutual assumption that even if we're not on the same page, we're at least in the same chapter, you know? Otherwise, why would they be reading The Beheld? The general topic breadth at Feministe means that there are some people reading who feel like anything I (or someone else) has to say is cluttering up the "real" issues.

    Cameo, thank you! I read your comment over there and was pleased to see it. It's tough as far as the feminist thing because I feel like it means so many things to so many different people--most of my friends are feminists, I'd say, even if they prefer not to use the word, and while I try to champion the use of the word "feminist," really I'm more concerned with people acting as though women matter in this world rather than just using the word. (And some feminists would say that's sacrilege, but I digress.) It was weird to find myself thinking reactions that I usually hear anti-feminists saying, like, "Oh, quit being so politically correct" or whatever.