healthism and femininity

[cw: Christianity comparison in post; sexually-toned “reparative therapy”-toned psychiatric abuse, misogyny, and anti-sex worker sentiment at link]

Anyway this is the kind of thing I’m talking about when I say the concept of “health” has been used to abuse and control people.

And I should be able to drop a sentence like that and leave it, without anticipating someone seeing it and coming back to me with “It’s good to be healthy though.  Don’t shame people for trying to get healthy.”  Of course it’s convenient to be healthy.  But I should get to be able to say “be wary of how people deploy the concept of ‘good for your health'” without getting inane responses, the same way I should be able to say “be wary of how people deploy the concept of ‘it’s God’s will'” without someone replying, “But some things ARE God’s will and it’s important to follow it.”  I mean, I expect even very sheltered Christians to get the idea that some Chritianities are worse than others and do lead people astray, but I swear I don’t know how to get through to some people about healthism, not when it’s as ingrained in my culture as it is, I dare say more than Christianity is.  Critiquing healthism is incomprehensible blasphemy.  I might as well tell someone “I want to be sick and always getting sicker.”  It’s…  I don’t know.  I worry.  I worry about the pervasiveness of a faith that strong.

Here are some quotes for those of you who didn’t click the link.

A quote from user lesbian-lily in the linked comment chain:

I’m too tired to find sources and images and whatever, but this is literally how they used to assess women’s mental health and still is a lot of the time. If women wore baggy clothes, didn’t wear make up, didn’t have perfect hair or rejected femininity in any way it was used as a sign of their mental health, a sign that they were crazy and needed fixing. Women wouldn’t be able to free themselves from institutions until they began to conform to femininity. Associating self care with femininity is kinda really fucked up considering we used to get sectioned purely for not being feminine enough.

A quote from Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful cultural practices in the west screenshot’d by user nineteencigarettes:

Pertschuck’s big worry is that, “The woman who feels unable to meet the demands of a female identity and who grooms and dresses accordingly is indeed likely to be viewed as asexual by those around her” (1985, p.221).  The woman may desire precisely such freedom from men’s gaze but Pertschuck will not allow it.  He sees the solution for such women who refuse to service male sexuality as “appearance training.”

What’s got me hecked up is that I can’t even be properly horrified at just the passages themselves, because I’m also thinking…

I’m imagining that someone would tell me the use of the word “asexual” here has nothing to do with the modern usage by the ace community, not even a little bit.  Which makes about as much sense to me as saying that there’s no anti-butch sentiment in trying to “help” an unfeminine woman engage in more feminine beauty rituals, as long as the reason for that “help” isn’t paired with suspicion that she’s attracted to women.  Or as much sense as saying that this “appearance training” to make her sexier (to men) has nothing to do with heteronormativity.  Just misogyny.  Just misogyny alone.  Because those two systems don’t overlap like that and aren’t enmeshed in each other or anything.

I’m so hecked up by the homophobia of saying homophobia doesn’t care about making women attractive to/attracted to/”sexually available” to men.  It’s just so patently false, so black is white and red is blue, it springs up in my brain now when I read about this stuff.  God, I want to fight someone.  But this is down the rabbit hole deep.

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