Thursday, October 12, 2006

 
When Blogworlds Collide Dept:

What I find fascinating about these Blogworld Wars are their points of intersection, for example:

Lurking seditiously underneath the multilayered modest dress of a muslimah is sometimes...

wait for it...

LIPSTICK! Eye Liner! maybe a little blush, mascara, all of it coming under the umbrella term "cosmetics", those which some of us are all about renouncing and denouncing in the name of Patriarchy Blaming.

And for a woman who lives someplace where the Authoritahs keep track of such things, using that little tube of Color Me Scarlett or Fire Engine Fantasy* may be considered an act of rebellion tantamount to treason, a declaration of allegiance to an Evil Empire of decadence, an affront to morals and standards and a bright red FUCK YOU to the local patriarchs.

Apparently the penalties FOR wearing makeup in public**, in some locales, are rather dramatic and tangible, standing in sharp contrast to the penalties for NOT wearing makeup in the US, which (at least in my experience) are limited to an odd glance askance, maybe a less-than-brilliant first impression, possibly a minor decrease in social opportunities. At any rate, lack of lipstick has never gotten my disgustingly-privileged tail arrested, horsewhipped or ritually shamed in a public square.

So I'm not at all sure that a cohesive and thoughtful feminism ought to put cosmetics first up against the wall when the revolution comes. Greedy and soulless cosmetics companies? sure. Insulting and demeaning cosmetics advertisers? you bet. And an extra bullet to the head for anyone who thinks it's cool to use child labor in mica mines (for that evening shimmer) or mix deadly toxic poisons in with the relatively harmless wax, water and food coloring. But the lipstick itself? The act of opening a tube or jar or stick and using the contents to paint one's face?

Maybe to some of us that act stinks - just reeks - of patriarchal collaboration. If such act is presented as part and parcel of social acceptance, without which one will surely die in abject poverty and wretched loneliness, sure - a rejection of the act feels like a repudiation of all that oppresses.

But we're not the only women in the world. Ours is not the only experience of patriarchy that matters.

If you had a friend from Iran, for example, who covered according to family tradition, or as a declaration of faith, or in compliance with local laws, or any combination of those factors, and she expressed a fervent and deeply rebellious desire for some slippery red glop in a tube - would you tell her "no"? Or is it okay - in fact preferable - for her to wear as much as she wants, even though (or perhaps because) the very act of cosmetics-wearing is a punishable offense?

is YOUR patriarchy more important than HER patriarchy?

For what it's worth, my own personal patriarchy - my experience with men in my family and men in my social sphere - let me know that women who wore makeup were vain, easily distracted, empty-headed, far too concerned with personal appearance, and worst of all BOY CRAZY, and if I knew what was good for me I'd wipe that crap off my face RIGHT NOW YOUNG LADY...Is that attitude not worth rebelling against?

What does a thoughtful feminist do about the Lipstick Paradox?




*who names cosmetics? I want that job!

**unfortunately, my two sources (Reading Lolita in Teheran and Lipstick Jihad) are at home, and I'm at work, so I'm unable to cite specifics at this time. I will endeavor to do so in the near future.

Comments:
I'm not trying to get all "pity the poor foreign brown girl" here.

I'm just saying, cosmetics signify different things to different cultures, and World War Lipstick doesn't seem to address that adequately. for me.
 
thank you antiprincess!
 
you're quite welcome, bitch|lab.

I aim to please, most times.

someone - unfortunately I can't remember who at this minute - brought it up...where...one of the Feministe threads, maybe? and the idea got totally buried under the avalanche of crap.

anyway - until I figure out where I saw the reference - thank YOU, unknown commenter!
 
What were you doing your blog at work for? And what were you spose to be doing?
WELL!!!!
 
What were you doing your blog at work for? And what were you spose to be doing?
WELL!!!!


this from a fellow whom I'm certain ought to be doing his homework... :)
 
WELL!!!!!
 
hope you are well lately too heidi. been meaning to write but this thing has depressed me.

you always please me anyway, so...

i'm on a MWF diet and i will not give my energies to this people anymore. i will read people who care, like Happy Feminist. Fuck Hugo. Fuck any thread on Feministe that isn't about something besides gender/sex/body
 
ps. i honored yo with The Coup.
 
(ahem)

FS201, you are most assuredly not the boss of me, little man.

also note further that what happens in the blogosphere generally ought to stay in the blogosphere.

I won't tell your boss if you don't tell mine.
 
Brilliant post!! Thanks for writing this!

I'm kind of surprised I don't see this sentiment pointed out more often on feminist blogs:

For what it's worth, my own personal patriarchy - my experience with men in my family and men in my social sphere - let me know that women who wore makeup were vain, easily distracted, empty-headed, far too concerned with personal appearance, and worst of all BOY CRAZY, and if I knew what was good for me I'd wipe that crap off my face RIGHT NOW YOUNG LADY...Is that attitude not worth rebelling against?

That was my experience of it... well, sort of. I got a lovely double message. On the one hand: Don't wear TOO MUCH make-up, you'll look like a slut! You'll look trashy! What will everyone think?? On the other hand: Oh, don't you want to add a little color to your cheeks? Your face would look so nice with a little color around the eyes. Why don't you want to make yourself look presentable?

Yes, that was very fun.
 
b|l - I totally noticed and THANKS!

I get so dumb and hero-worshippy when you comment.

it's embarrassing, really.

but role-model, yeah. you. and to get positive attention from a role-model is a little intoxicating.
 
"little man"! You my recall people call me Big Wil!

And I wont tell your boss.
 
amber - yeah, that weird convoluted tread-the-thread thing...how do you know when you've achieved "just enough?"

funny thing - my sister, 15 years my junior, did not ever, to my knowledge, get grief about makeup, her experiments with it or without it, her successes or failures - my parents really didn't hassle her about it at all growing up.

And she's an exquisitely perfect princess when it comes to girly stuff. She does the whole female-drag thing proper.
 
Antiprincess, lets put that behind us I wanted to say, the riverton fair is this weekend.
 
As far as I know, we'll be there - I don't think my better fraction has made any plans to the contrary.

got anything to say on the subject of lipstick, FS201? :)
 
maybe it's just a heaviest-knapsack issue.

maybe it's an I-fight-my-patriarchy-you-fight-yours thing.

but I still wonder which one of us would give a girl grief FOR wearing lipstick in a city like Teheran. And if we wouldn't give her grief in Teheran, maybe we shouldn't give her grief in New York, or Chicago, or Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Is lipstick only okay if wearing it risks your skin?
 
Ap I think that lip stick and other make-up can on the most part be avoided! In my family I think the only one who wears make-up is my brother Mike, and it isn't heavy, just the right amount to cover some old pimmple scars. Also lipstick isn't needed, in too many cases lipstick is over done. Some people just can't go out with-out some make-up, some even look like they use a roller! I don't think that if al make-up were to be taken "hostige" the world would end. And if you think it helps you get a job then you really aren't really getting the job its the make-up that gets it not you.

Although some use it for more usefull purposes, like if the have burn marks[ect.] and don't like people staring or somehting like that.

OHH... by the way I don't know if antiprince is the so called "better-half" do to the fact that he looks like he is part of the Manson family. Plus in some cases like in morality you know more.
 
nothing to say on what I said?
And unless Cindy is getting you probly the anti-queen[mom] will come and get ya'll... around fiveish?


e-mail me if other wise!
 
I got a lovely double message. On the one hand: Don't wear TOO MUCH make-up, you'll look like a slut! You'll look trashy! What will everyone think?? On the other hand: Oh, don't you want to add a little color to your cheeks? Your face would look so nice with a little color around the eyes. Why don't you want to make yourself look presentable?>

yup.
 
the younger generation, folks! he'll be here all week!

so upthread we have how the average 15 year old young man feels about makeup, in case anyone is interested.

as you can see, our young scion of the patriarchy is kind of not enthused about it one way or the other.

I wonder if this says something about a possible difference between what individual men think, and the common perception of what Class Man (the so-called Patriarchy) thinks as a unit, a masculine hivemind.

I know my husband is not so insistent on my going the full female jacket route. most guys I come in contact with seem to be completely neutral on the subject.

I wonder what the results would be if you asked a big pile of fellows how they felt about makeup, and promised never to reveal the answer.

cuz the patriarchy is nothin' without the individual men who make it up.

this has me thinking.
 
well, we''l have to be dumb and hero-worshippy together then, because i feel likewise. i just wanna shove my hands in my pockets and say, "awww shucks ma'am" and then tell you to stop putting your fine, compassionate, intellect down!
 
well, we''l have to be dumb and hero-worshippy together then, because i feel likewise. i just wanna shove my hands in my pockets and say, "awww shucks ma'am" and then tell you to stop putting your fine, compassionate, intellect down!

nah, dude - it's all good. I'm like that kid in her bedroom, singing along to the radio, using her hairbrush for a microphone, really belting it out and emoting and getting all diva with it and sounding great, and then her mom or someone comes in to tell her dinner's ready.

Glurp. choke. what, who me? singing? no...nothing...I...oh never mind...
 
I wonder this -
if we all gathered our own beeswax and mixed it with our own water and smashed up our own cochineal beetles (for that great bright scarlet red), using a recipe handed down from our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-times-great grandmother, and applied the resulting mixture to our lips while sitting in a circle with our sisters and chanting a hymn to the Great Mother Spirit - would that be okay, or still sucking up to the patriarchy?

I still think it's the advertising agencies and cosmetics companies that are the problem, not the actual cosmetics themselves.
 
It still wouldn't be okay, because it's the Patriarchy™ that's telling us we should wear lipstick! Don't you see?

Oh, you say you don't give a shit what the Patriarchy™ says, you want to wear it for your own reasons? Pshaw! It doesn't matter, because regardless of what your reasons may be, to outside observers it still looks like you're reinforcing the Patriarchy™!

/ friday snark
 
mmm, beetles.
 
Oooh! We could use blueberries for those of us who want the goth look :) It'll be fun! I'll bring the s'mores....

And you know, I've yet to date a man who gave a damn if I work makeup or not. Or shaved my legs or not. Hell, most of them don't seem to care if I get dressed or not...hrm, wait....:)

Seriously, none of them have ever cared. In fact, I had an ex who decided he would shave /his/ legs to see what it was like. It was kinda funny, because he had hair like a Brillo pad, but he did it for a month and then decided it was too much trouble and stopped. Me? I thought it was kinda sexy, but then I like my men to be a little bit genderbendy :)

Like I said in the comments at my place, the only people who have ever seemed to care if I wear makeup are other women. It was the same way when I was a teenager. The opinion of my female friends were what influenced me, not what the guy I had a crush on would think. It was all about what other women would say.

Then I got to college and got better female friends and we realized -- who needs this shit?:)
 
You've got a point! And you're right -
and World War Lipstick is a good term.
 
thanks, Prof. Zero!

I feel all sorts of wrong commenting on the whole hijab issue. you know, because such is not my cultural experience.

Maybe I should have let that stop me.
 
you know what you never see?

ear liner. ear shadow.

an unexploited revenue stream, there.
 
What about nose make-up? The nose is very neglected, colour-wise.
 
It's true.

(Am now reminded of the scene in "Roxanne" where whosis is telling Steve Martin to try makeup to "minimize" his foot-long nose. next scene he's streaking a dirty-looking stripe along one side of the behemoth, looking extremely dubious...)
 
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