HuffPo blogger to women: Everything girly is weak!

by Debbie Stoller

Oh for F’s sake! Yet another post comes out of the woodwork with the same-old same-old, tired-old tired-old idiotic hypothesis. Peg Aloi’s HuffPo post, published yesterday, titled “Tough Gals: Do They Still Exist?” basically boils down to the same thing old Henry Higgins asks in My Fair Lady:” Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

Aloi is unhappy that women are “girly” again. Her evidence of contemporary women’s girliness is that some of us like cupcakes, crafting, cooking, and gardening, and apparantly, not enough of us are wearing leather. This is all very tragic, because according to Aloi, the women’s rights movement fought for we gals to be “tough.” We should be “bad asses” and “ball breakers.” So why have we “reverted” to doing such sissy girl things as baking?

But Aloi makes a logical leap that I refuse to take with her: That doing anything that can be considered “feminine” (which I guess baking and gardening are) are somehow less “tough” than doing anything considered “masculine.” Aloi would be happy if we gals were all taking boxing lessons instead of learning to can; if we wore power suits to work instead of dresses or skirts; if we stayed out of the kitchen entirely. She never quite explains why she thinks these things aren’t tough, but I can tell you why she does: Because Aloi, just like most sexists, likes to think that anything that women do is weak. And that only the things that men have traditionally done is tough.

Yet Aloi trips herself up in her own article. On the one hand, she writes:

“Now that so many women have seemingly retreated from our reign of awesomeness to immerse themselves in the feminine past-times of yesteryear, it does indeed appear that we’ve lost sight of what it means to be a badass, strong, tough woman. Not that our pioneering foremothers were not bad-ass… have you seen Meek’s Cutoff?”

So what on God’s green earth does she think those pioneering women were doing, exactly, if not all of the exact things that she hates today’s women for? They cooked, they canned, they gardened, they sewed, and maybe…just maybe..they baked some cupcakes. And all the while, the menfolk most likely thought what the little ladies were doing wasn’t nearly as important as what they did (they didn’t even give their women the right to vote, after all). And over a century later here comes Aloi to tell us the same.

According to Aloi, these are the tough things that women should be doing instead of baking:  “learning how to shoot a gun, hot-wire a car, and manipulate our way into a bomb shelter.”

While I’ll agree all those things might be useful, and I don’t think that knowing how to sew a seam in any way keeps you from also learning any of those things. But why exactly is “hot-wiring a car” any tougher than knowing how to create bread out of ground up wheat and yeast? What is tough about that other than that it is something that men traditionally are taught, rather than women?

I’ve spent the past 15 years of my life trying to get people to see that assuming that anything we consider to be masculine is necessarily better or more valuable than what we consider to be feminine is in and of itself incredibly misogynist. And I’m certainly not the only one on this mission. But folks like Aloi just keep wanting to give special priveledge to anything masculine,  and denigrate anything feminine. It’s getting to be a bit exhausting at this point.

In the end, Aloi concludes that there are some tough bitches left in pop culture for us to aspire to be more like, and cites True Blood’s Sookie Stackhouse as her ideal role model. Really, Peg? That’s what we’re supposed to aspire to? A fictional blonde vampire wanna be?

I say: Bite me. Is that tough enough for you?


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