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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Martin

Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin On The Sensual Revolution Podcast

On one of the latest episodes of The Sensual Revolution podcast, host Marlee Liss interviews our very own Board Member, Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin on The Power Of Femininity & the End of Femmephobia.

Marlee, a sensual reclamation coach, award winning author, and restorative justice advocate, poses questions regarding femininity from societal expectations, to intersectional issues, and beyond.

The root of which feminine issues grow is this idea that femininity is for male consumption. Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin explains how that idea has sparked many other issues.

Dr. Hoskin explains how femininity is "...systematically devalued, similar to how women are devalued but also distinct from that." This means that biases and issues involving femininity go beyond gender since women are not the only people expressing femininity or dealing with the internal battle of suppressing femininity.

This battle starts with the idea that femininity was constructed for male consumption. There is a level of truth to the issue that certain things are pushed onto women. Wear make-up (not too much), dress feminine (but don't show too much skin), and this issue is genuine in the sense that no one should feel like they have to do something they don't want to. But as Dr. Hoskin points out, some people enjoy femininity, and that's okay.

Marlee continues, "Femininity is something anyone can enjoy and connect with..." Marlee and Dr. Hoskin are both femme lesbians, which means lesbians who expresses feminine gender attributes. They discuss how their experiences and personal energy break this idea that femininity is for male consumption, and how being feminine has resulted in their sexual orientation being questioned.

Dr. Hoskin explains, "(using the phrase) 'looks gay' carries so much meaning." The phrase revolves around the notion that gender expression and sexual orientation are cemented in one another. Some in society think that if you dress feminine you must want a man's attention. Some think that femininity is a construct of making women desirable to men. And yet, feminine lesbians don't care about presenting as attractive to men and they still enjoy femininity.

"Gender expression is separate from sexual orientation and gender identity,"Dr. Hoskin explains, "(society perceives) feminine men as gay, feminine women as straight, feminine men as not real men, feminine women as fake lesbians, fake feminists, mockeries of real women, and feminine nonbinary people as fake or just after ultimately we see femininity and feminine people as fake and we see being feminine as something that's exclusive for male attention."

And when femininity is deemed for male consumption, rape culture comes into play.

People are constantly modulating femininity, for example, to avoid violence or to appear competent. Femininity is intertwined gender based violence. What someone was wearing at the time of being violated has equated to asking for that violation. Again, the assumption is that femininity is for male consumption.

Dr. Hoskin goes on to say how femininity is expected to be "desirable but not itself desiring." Be attractive, but don't look like you want that attention.

There's a balance in evaluating feminine issues. Dr. Hoskin clarifies, "talking about femininity as a role in women's oppression is very important and we need to continue talking about that, but that's only one part of the story." She goes on, "the world is structured in privileging masculinity and shutting down emotions."

Marlee agrees and adds how "(femininity is) sought after and least respected." "Consumable but disposable" Dr. Hoskin responds.

The conversation goes on to discuss how feminine issues are intersectional. Dr. Hoskin states how femininity is said to be "frail and vulnerable" and suggests we challenge the idea while simultaneously realizing that nothing is wrong with being vulnerable.

Dr. Hoskin explains how femininity is "rooted in white notions of femininity, because feminine people of color are not always seen as vulnerable and frail, ...and it denies their humanity."

Denying femininity or treating it in a way that devalues it, is what is called femmephobia. Dr. Hoskin defines the word as "the systematic way society devalues and regulates femininity across bodies and identities."

The discussion points out that before you realize femmephobia is a thing, you don't realize it is there. "It's like the fish in water example, a fish doesn't realize it is in water," Marlee explains. But once you see it, you see it everywhere.

Femininity has become a "balancing act," Dr. Hoskin expands this idea by explaining that femininity is based on"how society would like femininity to be performed and if they fall outside of that purview they face stigmatization, harassment and even violence."

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