White people who are tired of talking about race often behave like newly sober alcoholics, eager to “focus on the future” and “forget about the past.” Because they aren’t drinking anymore (or lynching anyone this particular afternoon), they are annoyed when those who have been victimized by their recklessness or their privilege insist on “having a conversation” about what’s happened — and what may still be happening. “But I’m different today”, says the former drunk who’s just taken his 30-day chip at an AA meeting to his wife; “you should trust me now.”
And nod along enthusiastically with this one;
All gender roles are, of course, performances. Whether we’re straight or gay or queer, most of us “play act”. For many of us, that playing has become so deeply ingrained that we are unaware of a distinction between our “true” and our “performing” selves. But even someone who has never taken a gender studies course can figure out that certain ways of “performing” enhance and affirm our sense of ourselves as distinctly feminine and masculine. The woman who says “Wearing lipstick and heels makes me feel more feminine” is acknowledging that her sense of herself as a woman is connected to public performance, just as the guy who says, “I like it when a woman waits for me to hold the door open for her; it makes me feel like a gentleman” is admitting that his sense of gender identity is closely connected to what he does rather than to his biology.
Sugarbutch’s claim that chivalry is “deeply feminist” is a provocative one, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to make good sense. Sugarbutch makes the case that this deliberate performing of chivalry on her part is rooted in a recognition of just how burdensome the performing of femininity (or femme-ness) is. Doing chivalry is, it seems, rooted in a recognition not of feminine weakness but of the colossal effort of performing as a feminine woman (regardless of the sexual identity of whoever is performing femme.) To not be chivalrous is to claim that the burden of performing gender falls equally on both men and women, on both butch and femme. And that’s preposterous: think of the amount of time anyone performing “butch” has to spend getting ready compared to the amount of time that someone performing “femme” does.