Womanface. The new blackface?

You’ve signed on to #MeToo. You’ve canceled JK Rowling. You’ve expunged Little Britain from your video collection. Think you can call yourself woke? Think again.

Picture this. You’re at a bus stop. As you’re standing there in your mid-heeled pumps and pencil skirt, minding your own business, up swishes a Vision in stilettos, hair so bouffant it has its own postcode, cleavage deep enough to park a Porsche, nails like talons and perfume that comes perilously close to chemical warfare. “Darling,” he says, in a breathy voice, “has the Number 22 been yet?”

Well, you’re no bigot, so you just say, “No, it’s just running a little late,” and go back to perusing New Idea.

But should you? After all, this guy is pretending to be you. Somewhere along the line, he’s thought to himself, wouldn’t it be great to be a girl….now let’s see, what is it about girls that makes them so….girly? Is it their love of babies? Their ability to have a conversation without trying to one-up? Their general disinclination to punch one another?

Nope. It’s their frivolousness, their sissiness (oooh! my nails! a spider! save me!), their love of handbags and hairspray and makeup, their inability to get out the door in less than three hours. Just say ‘Dat boy really love his watermelons!’ and be done with it, for Chrissakes.

Just kidding. Dress up to your heart’s content, it’s fine by me. I totally agree, it’s more offensive when a white person pretends to be a black person and does the whole watermelon/fried chicken/yo mama thing than when a male person impersonates a female person and does the whole ditzy ritzy Gloria Swanson Mae West thing….

Could be worse. Could be Big Mama.



  1. If I’m standing at a bus stop in mid-heeled pumps and pencil skirt, I would hardly dare criticise the other guy.

    Seriously though, this lovely bit of banter makes me want to share all sorts of opinions and enjoy a good discussion about important social aspects of the culture wars, identity politics and whatnot, but I realised I wouldn’t be able to do that without trying to one-up or punch somebody.

    No, that wasn’t very serious either. OK, seriously, it’s all very complicated. It’s such a pity so many people are engaged in culture wars instead of collaborative cultural creation and improvement through open respectful discussion. But that’s difficult when one end of the debate is actually reactionary and doesn’t want improvement because everything was better in the good old days and all improvement is a Marxist plot.

    And then any genuinely useful insights of the alt-right position get lost in the noise, or maybe they deserve to.

    Personally, I do wish women, let alone men, would stop it with the high heels and paint. Never mind men doing “womanface”, women put on womanface all the time, and we really should stop teaching our girls to dress up as sex objects. It does not excuse sexual abuse of women and girls, but it encourages it and gives the ignorant a reason to excuse it to themselves. And just, you know, why? Why make such a fuss over your cover instead of becoming an interesting book?

    1. Couldn’t agree more. My daughter and I were talking about this and the propensity at the moment for women to put nude photos and videos on exhibitionist websites, which apparently is pretty lucrative but also gives them a kick. I said it was probably that urge in women to be the most wanted, even if you have to do weird stuff in public to achieve it. When women stop caring so much about getting attention from men and proving to other women that they’re irresistible, maybe the stupid heels will die a natural death. Let’s hope.

    1. I do like drag queens… they’re not boring. At least to look at. And not taking on the whole masculine thing is a big plus. But still, what does it say about us, that people pretending or aspiring to be women should choose this particular way of doing it? I sometimes wonder what drag queens would have done in caveman days..

  2. Yeah, let them be as uncomfortable as we are and spend all their money on superficial garbage too! I’m so pleased with myself for quitting the whole “must look sexy” routine 😊

      1. I sometimes miss getting dressed up special, but most of the men I dated weren’t into that, and now with the lockdown/distancing, I do even less socially. What’s hard sometimes is to accept I will be alone for the rest of my life 🙁

    1. For what it’s worth, I have always found what might be called “the natural look” attractive and turned off by “superficial garbage”. I’m not sure how common it is, but I’ve certainly met men who agree (although most look at me like I’m mad). It would be easy to imagine it’s some kind of weird fetish – e.g., if I’m turned on by a woman in dungarees digging bits of pottery out of an archaeological trench, hair all over the place, or indeed a farmer doing farm work (I lived with one in the Scottish Highlands for two years!) – but that’s relative; why isn’t it a fetish to be turned on by the fakery of a layer of paint made in a factory and sold to women (increasingly also men) by stimulating their inferiority complexes?

      Brashness, self-advertising, etc., are fashionable, fitting with the economic fashion of consumerism, but modesty will always be a virtue. I’m not sure if this makes me a “nice” man, but it probably helps (I certainly have my faults). I’m not sure why you (@butimbeautiful) said “we just didn’t meet them in time”. Surely you can still meet nice men? In time for what?

      This isn’t meant to reflect on present company at all, but one thing I notice is the prevalence of women who long for a “nice” man, one who will be chivalrous and kind and loving, but repeatedly ignore them and go off with an obvious dickhead. It might be difficult to avoid, since it’s probably built into our DNA. Men show off by taking risks, demonstrating their prowess as protectors, warriors, hunters, etc., and women are bound to respond to that, leaving the timid geek in the corner wondering why everyone is so shallow.

      (Changelings must pardon my cis-normative bias. 😉 )

  3. If dressing up as a woman becomes the new blackface-type controversy, than I can officially be cancelled. One halloween for a neighborhood party, a neighbor and I dressed up as women. I’m sure there are pictures somewhere. Oh well, I was never meant to be famous or popular anyway.

  4. I’m in two minds about this. I mean, where do we stop being offended by every single thing that’s a bit ‘off’? Then there’s the fact that parody is based in not really respecting the thing we’re parodying as much as we respect ourselves or our own group, and feeling entitled to mock or make a bit of ‘light-hearted’ fun about it.

    I haven’t cancelled JK. I think she’s been very brave to raise issues that we should be talking about. As Stephen Hawking said: “Humankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking”.

    Now let’s see what hellfire gets blowtorched my way for such heresy!

    1. Cancel culture is pathetic where it punishes people for their opinions, and the censoring of comedy is ridiculous. The alt-right aren’t all wrong.

      Removing statues celebrating the philanthropy of slave owners is different – these are expressions of state pride, and their presence is the worst kind of institutional racism. Similarly, retracting honours from deeply offensive individuals can be valid, for instance as happened recently to David Starkey. It’s not censoring. It’s not unduly punishing. It’s saying we made a mistake with that gong we gave you, or that job, and cuz you a raving white supremacist, it isn’t yours anymore.

      With JK Rowling, not only should she be free to express her views and “offend people”, but her opinions were both scientifically defensible and morally important, because of the serious risk to people who think they need to be cut and stitched and medicated, through their conflation of gender and sex.

      1. Agree. All that cutting and moulding of boy bits into girl bits and vice versa is horrifying. I’m not sure about the statues. Wouldn’t it be easier to stick a label on the plinth saying, ‘Jeremiah Smith, noted dickhead and slave owner, 1820-1896’? The problem for me is the precedent, there are no doubt regimes who would tear down statues of people we regard as heroes…if they were Jewish for instance. The key thing for me is critical thinking; people need to be equipped to make their own minds up about things. Including history.

    2. Totally. Let’s all not take ourselves so damn seriously. I haven’t cancelled poor jk either, I mean, it’s just an opinion.
      Are men dressing as women parodying? Or are they making a serious attempt to imitate what they see as the essence of femininity? I don’t really mind either way, but I find it interesting to speculate.

      1. To me it’s parody, but sometimes we have to suck it up. However, I can’t really think of any other group that gets parodied now – can you?

  5. Cancel culture is cowardly. It relies on bullying, threats, and intimidation. I’m sure it feels good to flex a bit of righteous muscle and experience the thrill of destroying a person, but it comes across as an ugly practice by ‘little’ people who have discovered some power. We’ve seen this type of thing before in history.

    However, as you say, not everything the wokerati do and believe in is wrong, and neither is everything the alt-right believe in, but if we turn off our ears and thinking, we’ll never know. I must admit that I haven’t done a lot of listening to the alt-right, but maybe I have just told myself to do that 🙂

    Interesting about comedy, isn’t it? It’s basically all about taking the p*ss out of someone somewhere.

    1. You’ve got to be able to laugh at things, and people, it’s a kind of safety valve. And yeah, cancelling is ridiculous. It only works if the cancelled person needs your attention and suffers when deprived of it… which is also absurd.
      So I was being humorous about being woke. I’m too old to be woke anyway. But the transgender thing does interest me. It’s only recently that people have actually been able to change their sexual characteristics, not just dress up. But when people decide to be a member of the opposite sex, they obviously have a model of that sex in mind. If I wanted to be a man, for instance, what springs to mind is a visible bulge in my jeans and a hairy chest, maybe a confident swagger. If I was a man, I’d like to be seriously manly. But what is that, and why?

      1. Ah, I must confess that it went over my head somewhat 🙂 To be honest, I don’t think many people mind if a person wants to live as the opposite sex to what they were born, whatever than means for them. However, when a ton-load of shite descends upon women for wanting protect theirs and children’s rights, then there’s a helluva lot wrong with that kind of culture.

      2. I’m thinking about the sex-based rights that protect women and children. At the moment, there is legislation in the pipeline that will allow any man who identifies as a woman to enter women’s and girls’ spaces. This is not saying that transwomen are predators or predatory by default, because that’s not true. However, the legislation being sought by transwomen which will legally allow any man who says he identifies as a women into women’s and girls spaces, regardless of whether he takes hormones or has surgery, is dangerous. We all know that men are the biggest risk factor to women and girls, and that there are always men who will do whatever they can, and exploit any loophole they can to get at them. But saying this, and fighting against the legislation that will allow this, gets a ton-load of shite dumped on those who dare to say it. Single-sex spaces protect women and girls, but those spaces are in danger of not being safe anymore. Are you aware of this?

  6. Yeah, I know some people are concerned about that, my eldest sister for one. I think it’s a pretty low risk myself. Men who want to assault women in a women’s toilet will go in and do it – like the guy that fairly recently raped a little girl in the female toilets at her dance school. They don’t need the cover of dressing up like a woman. So I guess it doesn’t worry me.

  7. ‘Bout time somebody called out the systemic patriarchal sexist, racist and sadly acceptable misogyny of stereotypes disguised as humor. If I was a woman I’d be pissed. Oh well, my novel about a wannabe feminist back when it wasn’t easy will sit in the can until hell freezes over.

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