Great post by Jill today: Confessions of a Fun Feminist. I’m not even going to excerpt it, because you need to read the whole thing.
I’m not a Fun Feminist. I don’t wear make-up, or girly clothes, or get waxes. I’m a “cool chick” (to be defined momentarily) so this line in Jill’s piece particularly resonated with me: “If I like to watch football (which I don’t at all, but let’s pretend), then I’m a ‘guy’s girl’ and that’s, like, totally hot.” Or, as I’ve been called throughout my life by guys who appreciated that I could talk baseball, kick their asses at Tekken, or win at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, it’s, like, totally cool. And that makes me a “pretty cool chick.” (To the more resolutely sexist, “pretty cool for a chick.”)
As I’ve noted previously, the Cool Chick phenomenon is, in itself, a strange little twist of sexism indicating preference for a boyish personality in women, of which I’ve been a knowing beneficiary plenty of times. It’s certainly been to my advantage in the workplace, where I was easily regarded as “one of the boys” by upper management (and thusly got me in a position to call attention to the work of other women and non-Alpha men), and has also worked in my favor in terms of educating men on sexist behavior. That I didn’t blanch at a garden-variety dirty joke, and, being a fan of them myself, could even be counted on to provide one occasionally, made my male coworkers sit up and pay attention when I called them out on sexist (or homophobic) behavior. If the Cool Chick thinks it’s over the line, shit, it must be.
But although many of the traits associated with being a Cool Chick are intrinsic to my nature, I’m still conforming to a recognizable archetype, which engages its associated attributes as a survival skill just as firmly as the Fun Feminist, or other female archetypes. I’m never shy about speaking my mind (shocking, I know), but I don’t particularly like conflict, especially as it surrounds issues of equality in the workplace, which inevitably provokes charges of hysteria and hypersensitivity. Being a Cool Chick is a useful strategy to avoid a lot of that shit, as it confers upon me a de facto assumption of mellowness and temperance. I’d be lying if I said that male coworkers and bosses haven’t been more receptive to my saying, in my usual gravel-voiced monotone, “Dude, that’s seriously uncool. You can’t treat women [/gays] that way,” than they were to women [/gays] who took the “That’s offensive and here’s why” tack. I’m not saying it’s fair that it works that way, but I certainly take advantage of knowing that it does.
That is a trapping, a survival skill. It’s not empowering, though not particularly its opposite, either. It just is. I use the trappings that are the most comfortable for me to wear, that are the best fit. And so I shall, until we've made the world perfect. Or close to it.
And, by the way, I like Sex and the City, too, for reasons not the list of which is that without Big’s Big Red Wall, I never would have convinced Mr. Shakes that our Big Red Wall would be awesome. Which it is.