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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Can we cut the "Real" Woman Crap?

Content warning: Transphobia, body image, vulgar language

So in the past week I've run into various mentions of "real" women in different feminist areas where I participate.  It's gone from the whole "real women have curves" and body snarking to the transphobia of second wave informed radical feminists.   Which since no one seems to be discussing robots I'd like to point out that we're all fucking real ok!  No one is made solely of metal, plastic, and computer code. 
The physical manifestations of our bodies and womanhood do not make us more or less *real*.  Skinny women are real women, fat women are real women, models, chefs, and feminists are all real women.  Some women (FAAB) have higher testosterone levels than some men (MAAB).  Some women are born with clits that are larger than some penises.  Some women are born with penises.  They are all *real*.

Now I know some this this language comes from good places.  The Real Women Have Curves campaign is an attempt to open up fashion/media definitions of beauty to a larger spectrum of body images.  However, that's not the effect it actually engenders. 
"Please note that saying, "She looks better now!" or "Real women have curves!" (nope), or some variation thereof is just the flipside of the same type of body policing being criticized."  
It suggests that women without noticeable curves aren't real woman.  Which I hope we can all agree is fucking problematic.  And since the media's definition of noticeable curves is basically Joan Holloway, it doesn't actually broaden definitions of beauty.  

The suggestion that there is such a thing as "real", and by that nature "fake", woman ties into the heterosexist and patriarchal idea of their being certain and set characteristics for woman (or womanhood).  Why do we reject the idea that it's wrong to suggest "real" women as submissive, or bad at driving, or better with kids, but accept the ideas that there is a certain body type/characteristics that all "real" women have? 

I'm a queer/mentally disabled/white/middle class/western/thin(ish) woman without pronounced curves who rejects gender roles and stereotypes, and I am real.  I was just as real when I was dancing and had even less curves (and the boyish frame so often snarked about by "real women have curves" people).  My grandmother is a study farm/housewife who buys into the patriarchy, she is a real woman.  One of my roommates is a chunky lesbian who engages in gender essentialism, she is a real woman.  D, a trans woman I know through activism, is a real (and amazing) woman. 

We're all *real* women.  As far as I know the cylons haven't infiltrated.  (And even if they had isn't the whole point that they're not so different anyway?)

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