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24.5.16




  

#FreeTheFemme - survival or complicity?

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15.5.16
So I will start by clarifying this is no means an attack on Hari Nef but a critique of the ideas in which she proposes in her recent TED talk #FreeTheFemme: The aesthetics of survival .

Nef starts off by rightfully recognising Caitlyn Jenner's flaws as an LGBT advocate, and reflects on her Vanity Fair cover and the criticisms surrounding it. Firstly, I understand representation matters, however, the sentiment of transgenderism is that trans women are unquestioningly women, and have always been so - so why when a woman appears sexualised on a magazine cover is this particularly triumphant? By recognising this as such is to admit that the qualifier 'trans' in transwoman is not without significance here, that this is not your quotidian magazine feature. Ergo, it is unlikely those with even "outdated" views are not going to have something to say - just as the more liberal millennials sing her praises, those "with roots in the second wave movement" are going to respond in a way that is not typical to the everyday occurance of a woman being on the cover of a magazine. So when Nef goes on to quote these criticisms, stating "like any woman in the public eye, Caitlyn's appearance in particular came under scrutiny" gives a warped idea as  to who is policing women's bodies, which I can assure you is not radical feminists. Also, it is dishonest to how gender-critical radical feminists go about their analysis, implying they await, with their hairy and "outdated aesthetic preferences", the latest embodiment of femininity with ready scorn - a sort of  MacKinnon-fueled, Perez HiltonDaily Mail type journalism. This simply isn't the case: a quick google image search of these women, Elinor Burkett, Barbara Cohn Schlachet and Susan Ager, reveals them to be no less feminine than your average women - they do not revel in their criticisms of femininity. Nef centers her speech around this individualistic notion of personal aesthetics in which radical feminist analysis is simply a "clash" of "preferences" - the criticisms surrounding Jenner were not a I-wouldn't-have condemnation, but a semiotic look at the ways in which Jenner was presented, hands back, corseted and coyly caught by the camera. Not an aesthetic but a message.