Feminism, Facebook and Bald-Headed Girls

A girl I know, a very politically active person and vocal feminist, posted this as her status earlier today:

So the three shaved-headed “girls” in my class are freaking me out, like really. You can be gay without looking like a boy

Several “likes” and a few comments in agreement followed. In spite of my rule against engaging in Facebook debates, I was very irritated at what I found to be an insensitive display of self-righteous judgment.  Still, I managed to keep my cursor off the comment box…until she said the girls were a sign of a deteriorating society.

So, screw it, I called her out:

They’re just expressing themselves…if you don’t like it, no one’s asking you to look at them. They’ll contribute as much to society whether they had hair or not, so I don’t get where all the judgment’s coming from.

I wasn’t sure what kind of answer to expect, but I was perfectly aware that I pushed my own damn self into a very touchy issue.

She replied back:

Hala, you dont have to imitate a male in order to express yourself. A female deliberately seeking to undergo certain procedures in order to appear as a male is in my view weak and intolerable. Since when do women need to adopt masculine characteristics to have a statement?? The very notion of being gay is being a female attracted to a female. If you jump into a male character and then declare your attraction to a female, it takes rather than gives to the very message you are trying to deliver. This is non-sense. I see no judgements in what I wrote Im merely expressing myself. Its funny how you come here attacking my opinion and then talk about freedom of expression. 

Well in my opinion they contribute as males and not females :-)  and I think the contributions of men in our society are more than enough thank you very much .

Okay. So, apparently, you’re “weak and intolerable” if you’re female (homosexual or not) and have “masculine” traits. Never mind that these “masculine” traits are really only what our culture deems “masculine”. I’m no sociologist and have limited knowledge of sex, gender and culture…but even I knew everything she said came from an over-simplified understanding of the concepts. However, I figured I might as well contribute my two (or ten) cents:

Gender and identity and the expression thereof come in almost too many forms to count. It’s not as black-or-white as simply “gay”, “lesbian” and wanting to look like a boy or girl. There are several combinations, which is why it’s not surprising that the LGBTQ symbol is a rainbow…it really is that variable. (It’s utterly fascinating, really). I also don’t believe that they are “adopt[ing] masculine characteristics to have a statement”. It’s not a statement—it’s who they are. (And I’m not talking about these girls in particular: I don’t know them and, for all I know, they shaved their heads in solidarity with a friend who has cancer. I wouldn’t know). But I am talking about girls who have masculine traits in general and want to express them as such—this is who they are. To judge them as betraying their sex or orientation is telling them that who they deem themselves on the inside is wrong. And that is what I am against. In the end, I just prefer that women and men be able to show who they are without fear of being attacked or judged. Lebanon may have enough of a patriarchal system—cannot agree with you more there—but don’t you think we have enough judgment as well?

I also truly apologize if I came off as sounding like I was attacking your opinion, as that wasn’t my intention. I was only curious as to why there seemed to be negative judgment on something done by people that is only their own personal choice. [What they do] is not meant to be detrimental to anyone, which I hope I explained somewhat in that spiel up there.

That was the last thing I said because the majority of the comments that came later agreed with her, and I didn’t want to go any deeper into it because (as FB threads are wont to do) it would spiral out of control. I only had one friend agree with me, but he kept his comment count to one for the same reasons.

I later chatted a bit with her on WhatsApp and she said the main reason she didn’t support this kind of expression is because they aren’t helping the feminist cause. She said most people were against feminism because they continually pointed out how women were behaving like men and it reflected negatively on them.

Okay, but isn’t the point of feminism to unite women under the cause of equality between them and men? Not all women are going to want to have long flowy hair and perfectly applied eyeliner. Some are going to be tomboys, some are going to be “butch” and others are going to be the girliest girls imaginable. Also? Some are going to be (gasp!) former men. In the end, feminists should not push away other women because they don’t fit under their “ideal” of what a woman should be like. If anything, you are taking away from the very message you’re trying to instill. If you’re going to be vocal about your cause, don’t step on other people who probably need your voice on their side—not against them.

I have a lot to say about this subject, and still more to read and research…but again, I didn’t deem it the right time to dive into the topic with her. We did leave off with a mutual declaration of a love of debate and no hard feelings, so at least there’s that. I genuinely look forward to picking the topic apart with her, because I think she can give me a deeper understanding of the mindset of the people in this country that intrigues, frustrates and confuses me by the day.


6 thoughts on “Feminism, Facebook and Bald-Headed Girls

  1. I’m impressed you were so nice to her, because that sort of thing would make me utterly enraged. Who’s she to say that shaving your head is a masculine trait at all? Yes, ok, our culture backs her up, but our culture also has this unfortunate problem of almost always being wrong when it comes to gender. Enforcing gender roles on anyone is what doesn’t support the cause of feminism, not somehow making feminists look bad by living outside socially accepted gender norms.

    • Hi Star, and thanks so much for your comment!

      Heh, I learned through experience that niceness goes a long way when it comes to people with whom you disagree. In any case, I do consider her a friend and starting a furious fight over ideologies did not seem to be a good idea. On another note, I do agree with absolutely everything you stated, and I probably couldn’t have said it better myself :-) If feminists want to fight the patriarchal rules and gender roles, we should take care to not use those very same tools against our fellow women.

  2. I agree with what you say, and would just like to point out that equality is not sameness. Equality, in many of its modern aspects, had meant that women replace their own age old values with those of men. That happened because the relation between the sexes was centered on dominance and power. Men had the power and dominated women. Women are now admitted into the game on an “equal” footing with men. This is an opportunity to reshape the whole relationship between man and woman from the ground upwards, and to shift the focus from dominance and power to ecstasy and love.

  3. Hala, I am glad you publicly disagreed with that subjective statement. Unfortunately most of the people here are not “tricultured” and are quite stubborn, in spite of having a very limited judgement. I know it’s no easy job, but it’s up to people like you to spread the positive vibes :)

Be Heard!

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