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Old 10-26-2012, 12:46 PM   #1
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Post June Cleaver : Femme Friend or Femme Foe

READ DISCLAIMER PLEASE


*** I would like to keep this conversation as a FEMME ONLY conversation. If you would like to have this very conversation about the "totem person" of your gender please do so in in your specific Zones. If like myself you want to keep it to specific identity/gender ask in a disclaimer so the conversation is uninterrupted. I've discussed this particular detail with Medusa and got the OK to ask for this allowance***



--------------------------------------------------------------------------




June Cleaver: Friend or Foe?




June Cleaver gets brought up a lot in our community as a Femme Role Model, a Femme Achievement Heirarchy, Femme Wife Model, How Femme Should Behave.


How did society/this forum come to that conclusion? What is the attraction? Is this part of your kink? Is it edge play for you if kink is involved? Is it a power dynamic? Does it get your juices flowing? Are you wondering how this came about? Do you even care who she is or what she seems to stand for? How does this affect you as a Femme of Color?


I love how in this community we break down things and examine them throughly and listen to one another without personalizing it or having to crap on someone/someones when we do.


Let's dismantle this and talk about all of it the good the bad and the ugly but please, please when we do let's do it in an adult manner and not take jabs at one another.

Discuss.
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Last edited by Medusa; 10-26-2012 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:02 PM   #2
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Arrow Not sure what she is to me

I can't nor will I ever be able to identify with June Cleaver, and when I say June Cleaver I mean by the character not the woman who played the character which is two totally different things.


I can't identify or see myself as her because June is not a woman I see as Femme, for me (and this is me posting from my me place) she's a straight woman and for me Femme is my gender and it's a Queer identity. On top of that not only is she not Femme (for me), she's straight, she's portrayed as upper middle class, and she's white.


I can though in a power dynamic, or kink situation, role playing, and edge playing see how I could maybe attempt to imitate the whole scene of staying home, dressing up, putting on an apron, and having everything perfect for when boy of weather walks in the door.


At this point of hotness I would be role playing with the twist of June having Ward come home, do what Ward does best:

Changed into more casual clothing

Go into the office

Check on Worm

Ask what's for dinner

BUT then, in my Cleaver universe "Ward" would drop to the kneeling position, ask about my day, serve me a drink, and then my dinner. This would lead into other deviant scenarious and BAM!!

We have role play, kink, power exchange and all well in Snow world! I'd am/be happy.


I have more thoughts but I need to get back to work.
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:12 PM   #3
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Thank you for starting this thread Snow. I've been reading the developing conversation in the other zone and didn't feel like I should be jumping in there.

Anyway...I have all kinds of weird, twisted up feelings about that 1950s housewife ideal. I had an opposite upbringing from a lot of women...my mother was vehemently (and angrily) feminist and all of the messages that I got as a girl were that all traditional female roles and activities were wrong, bad, stupid and anyone with half a brain should avoid them at all costs. She wanted me to take shop, not home economics, and play sports, not play with dolls. I was forbidden from taking typing class, and was not allowed to own a Barbie or play dress up.

The problematic part, for me, is that all of my natural inclinations pulled me in traditional female roles. Not because I got that messaging on TV (we didn't own one) and not because I was getting it at home or even in my immediate friend circles. It was just there....internal....from as early as I could remember.

My first career goal (at about age 8) was to be a hairdresser. My second thought (when that was shot down and criticized mightily) was to be a teacher....a middle school home economics teacher. I might as well have been saying I wanted to be a mass murderer.

Roll forward through many years and a variety of life experiences....and I'm a mixture. I've been an independent, self-supporting woman my entire life. First job at 15, moved away from home, put myself through college, single mom, more college, more work, three failed marriages (to bio men....duh....slow learner). Out in the world I am strong, independent, pushy and professional. I make my own decisions, run my own life....and good luck to anyone who tries to belittle, head pat or condescend to me.

When it comes to personal, intimate relationships....much of me swings back to my natural inclination. I want to cook my love's favorite meals and do little things to make them happy. I'll clean house, give backrubs....and I really honestly do want them to take care of the yard and the maintenance of the house and my car. Some would say I am living that old stereotype in my relationships....after all, I want my partner to take the lead in bed....and, yes, I want to be babied and honeyed and taken care of....that neglected little girl inside wants to be cradled and protected and treasured.

It's not kink...but one of the things I love absolutely the most is to be cooking (yes, generally in a dress and barefoot) in the kitchen, and have my love walk up behind me, wrap their arms around me, kiss my neck and try to interfere with my cooking.

Does that make me somehow less femme, less independent, less strong.....hell no.

Both of those are parts of me....the strong, independent, pushy broad....and the girl who wants to be the doting wife. There's no conflict, and one doesn't invalidate the other.

I think where we get into trouble is when we add a "should" or a "better" in there somewhere. For me there is no "should" for how anyone should behave (with the exception of hopefully having some kind of character and moral compass)....and no lifestyle or way of being is better or worse than any other. If we are glorifying June Cleaver as the ideal for ALL women....then I call bullshit. If you (general you) choose to glorify her as YOUR personal ideal...then have a good time rocking that apron and heels.

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Last edited by JustJo; 10-26-2012 at 01:14 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:16 PM   #4
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Snowy- I hope you don't mind I made a tiny edit up there and changed it to "if you want to have this conversation "about the totem person of your gender" then have it".

I think it would be a different animal if Butches or Transmen wanted to start a thread to dismantle their ideas about June Clever without us being able to interact. I think though if they'd like to start a thread about how they think about Ward Clever or some other person who has been held up as the standard for masculinity, it's good.

Problem for Femmes is that we are so often conflated with straight women stereotypes so Butches and Transmen don't have a Butch or Trans person to look toward the way we do with June Clever. I do think that Butches and Transmen get conflated with biomen quite often but it's a different kind of invisibility than we deal with.

I think June Clever has come to symbolize the Martha Stewart of her day - "I can make a HOME and FAMILY like nobody else can!" along with other symbols like "pure", "right", "white", and "of a certain class".

I love me some Martha Stewart but she doesn't have the same connotations to me that June Clever does, mainly because of June being in a stylelized family dynamic on the sitcom.

Even my Granny said that "nobody lived like that in the 50s" when referrring to Leave it to Beaver!
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:24 PM   #5
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i'm thinking. and as we all know that could take me a while. so i'm reading and thinking and i'll be back. thank you Lady Snow for this conversation and to Medusa for making space for it.
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:26 PM   #6
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Arrow Question 1


How did society/this forum come to that conclusion?



I am a firm believer that the way women are portrayed in media is the downfall for many of us who don't fall into the conclusions/opinions/impositions that people place on woman/Femme.

Sexism, Mysoginy and oppression have a key role in the boxing of women. When we come interact be it real time or in online situations some of that bleeds into our tapestry. It's engrained in us and it takes a lot of work (if you choose to) to get to a point of hey this is something I am ok with or hey this is something I am not ok with.


I also feel that people want women to stay quiet (look at our Politicians) and while some of us are ok and happy with that box others of us aren't going to be.

We just gotta figure out when having these discussions be they in our personal hoola hoop (an ArweNism) or not that we do so in mind that we're all going to roll differently and that as long as we DO NOT impose our stuff on others we can all dismantle all the stuff that comes with the June Cleaver phenomenon.
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:45 PM   #7
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Arrow Thoughts

I want to share that when searching for a picture of June Cleaver there wasn't one that really tells anything about "June" herself other than gender imposed markers.

Hair, perfectly prestine at all times

Make up, modest

Clothing, A dress heels and an apron

The apron, it's in at least 80% of the pictures of June if not more though the apron could cover her hips to top of knee to full frontal covering.


Shoes, a heel always a heel

Pearls, earings, bracelet, 2 string necklace

I had to think about it and ask myself:

we really have no clue who this woman is, other than wife, mother and cook.


It's interesting, disturbing and a little sad. It's rough for me as a woman to have a woman reduced to nothing but that, and then I understand that if one is into objectification then how hot it can be and is.

I can't for myself do the servitude scene, that particular role isn't appealing to me because it's not natural since I can't begin to understand that I must submit.
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:56 PM   #8
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I can't comment on June Cleaver because I never could stand to watch that show. But I think the 50's are way overrated. I would NOT want to go back to that era. As Bully, Princess Belle, and others were stating, it was a time of great oppression for anyone who wasn't a heterosexual white male. "The good ol' days" are a myth.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:00 PM   #9
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Ah, the 50's - love the fashions, leave everything else.

<-- still doesn't know exactly who June Cleaver is
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:05 PM   #10
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What's interesting to me, and I might be all wrong, is that all these idealized women like June, Donna Reed, Harriet Nelson, Lucy (to some extent, though her goal was always a career) and even Ma Ingalls all came about during or just after a period of great social upheaval, especially for women. WWII saw women working in great numbers; the '60's were a time of racial and political upheaval, and the '70's were marked by an unpopular foreign war and Watergate. I know that's incredibly simplistic, but interesting to me.

I don't think the people who wrote those programs necessarily thought they reflected reality in any way, or even some idealized way of living, but they were escapism. Even today, I don't want to watch programs about people struggling with their kids or in crumbling relationships-I've lived that! And much of TV, with few exceptions, until All In The Family and its spinoffs (especially Good Times), did not portray people of color in "real" lives with all its pain and struggles. To be blunt, probably more upper middle class whites owned TV sets back then, and so they were more likely to want to watch programs about people just like them (if idealized).

Even as fictional, unrealistic characters, I don't think all these women were necessarily "bad" for Femmes or detrimental. It's all in balance and applying what qualities appeal and disregarding the rest of the messages. As a mother myself, I'm far from any of them (maybe a few rungs above Peg Bundy), but June, Donna and Caroline Ingalls were patient, fair and yet held high expectations for their "children". That's something I can take from the shows.

I don't think there's anything nefarious in itself in wanting to keep an orderly, tidy home for one's children or partner-as Jo says, that quality doesn't take away from independence or smarts (and she is wicked smart ). Ma was portrayed as independent and willing to work when circumstances demanded it. All these women, even Lucy, showed initiative, thinking, and service.

I think we have to remember that TV reflected what was going on in society during that time, as unenlightened as it seems today. The 1950's were not that far off from Amos n' Andy on radio, or truly offensive Bugs Bunny cartoons. And maybe June herself isn't the role model, but some of the qualities that she and the other mother figures (I might even throw in Kitty on Bonanza) of the time embodied appeal today, when so much seems unsure and more "callous".

I'm not sure if I made any sense, and apologies if I offended in any way.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:07 PM   #11
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Default Question 2

What is the attraction?


I am unsure, if I had to guess I would have say that it's the nurturing (cooking, cleaning, doing the mom thing, overly attentive wife role. I can see how these things would be appealing if one was in the dynamic where these specifics were desired.


As a woman who can't identify in this manner I don't like it, it's not for me and I find it to be exploiting, dismissing, erasing of "June". I want to know more about June Cleaver what she thinks, who she hangs out with, what's her favorite color, and does want to beat her kids asses when they are assholes.

She's (June) is one dimensional and my mind is like WHAT!!! It does this because women aren't one dimensional were vast endless compartments of variety.

It's a double edged sword for me, it makes me go huh, I can see how that works and yet it tugs the very core of what makes me Snow when I see her compared to or elevated to Femme personification.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:33 PM   #12
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Interesting discussion.
I'll start with saying it never would have crossed my mind to compare myself/shoot for a June Cleaver type life, nor would I have thought that in identifying as femme I might somehow be expected to.

I have, however, had other thoughts about what it meant to be femme, and it's something that made me resist that label for years. (didn't stop me from being weak in the knees over the butches, but that's another story). When I was coming out and getting established in the community, The femme role was taught to me as more of a weakness, a less than, or a fashion statement that I didn't understand, relate to, or want. So I just did my thing and was just... me- somewhere in the middle I guess.

As for the power dynamic and the Cleaver "ideal", that's something I have always rejected. I watched my mom try to live that life and I would argue her about it- to stop packing lunches and trying to make everything "as it should be" when she obviously wasn't happy doing so and she was not being appreciated, especially by my father.

One thing I love about the planet is that it helped me deeply validate that I can be my own independent stubborn person, and at the same time be all about that which is the magic of the butch-femme-dance. And I can be my own femme in that dance as I have created her. That we all have our own definition of our label and we respect how each other walk what we have chosen and what feels *right* to us.

A few years ago I found myself up to my ears in a relationship that had been founded on complete equality and over the course of years had diminished into a vastly different picture where I had become, in essence, a housewife. Mind you I still worked and financially supported myself, but I was not an equal person in relationship to my partner and there were major expectations that I was going to be the one doing, well, the June Cleaver jobs, and that I was to accept whatever my partner wanted to do whenever she wanted to do it. When it became clear to me that we weren't going to find our footing back to equality, I ended the relationship. It took a year to get there, we both fought the end in our own ways, and it meant leaving my home and starting all over with a teenager in tow, but it was not a dynamic I could have ever lived with because I was being disrespected on so many levels. FOR ME, that role in a relationship would never work.

So that's my .02 on the issue. I think it's something that so many women face, not just in our community, not even close. I think for some women, it works. It is what is *right* for them. But if it's not what's right for both parties, I can't imagine either person in the relationship being happy with it. On the flip side of this, I would never be able to be happy in a relationship where a partner of mine was not living a fulfilling life, especially if they were not being fulfilled because of a dynamic that existed in our relationship.

THANK YOU for bringing this up!

Love the BFP.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:44 PM   #13
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See! I can get alllllll up into some submission and slap on an apron and heels and balance a pie delicately on a plate while serving it in that oh-o-dainty way. That way that says "Oh, aren't I just the tiniest little thing!"

But it's part of playtime. Until it's not.

I'm all about serving and most of the time that has nothing to do with submission. I like to make other people feel good. I like to make food for other people. My payoff is a sense of satisfaction so in that regard, I can see how adopting that "PowerJune" persona (role-play) works for folks if that's their thing!

I can see how the part of the June Clever idealism where she can perfectly present everything is super attractive. I can see the doting caretaker part being attractive.

I find that attractive in other people, Butches, Femmes, and Transmen alike. I like that (consensual) level of attention and I like to give that level of attention (consensually) as well.

I wonder if folks who really identify with the "50s housewife" (and I am sometimes one of them) are teasing out the parts that are about perfection and caretaking? I know I get especially pleased with myself knowing that I work 50 hours a week, go to school full time, maintain this site with the help of the other Mods, keep a clean house, cook dinners, and do all of that while washing my ass on a schedule and maintaining a cheery attitude. One of my girlfriends at work calls me "Martha Stewart Superwoman" because she says I do it all while looking good.
I don't do it ALL but I appreciate that she is recognizing how much energy I am putting into things.

Anyway, I'm rambling.

Great thread!
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:47 PM   #14
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Arrow Question 3, 4, 5, and 6

3. Is this part of your kink?



No, but I can't say I wouldn't role play "kept woman"








4. Is it edge play for you if kink is involved?



I would see this as edge play if it the two participants were pushing/exploring boundaries they never have.






5. Is it a power dynamic?




I think it can be, in my personal dynamic I would not be like the stereotypical June because well I happen to like being the oppressor not the oppressed. When I speak of this I am talking about consensual power dynamic exchanges.




5. Does it get your juices flowing?



Pearls do, I believe this is my objectifier compartment there's something about pearls....
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:52 PM   #15
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Piggybacking off of Medusa's post....

I think some of the that is the same for me. I'm not into submission, but I am into service. I like to do things for the people in my life....partly because it makes them feel good, and partly because it makes me feel good.

And, yes, I confess there's a little bit of the superwoman thing too. I have prided myself on always supporting myself, working, taking care of my son, maintaining a home, putting myself through school, getting an advanced degree....and still being able to bake from scratch or make my own jam.

My pushy broad peeks in too....and I'm just as liable to be pushing the people in my life to do better, which I'm sure can be rather annoying.
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Old 10-26-2012, 03:03 PM   #16
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I was thinking of two other TV women from around the same time who may seem almost the opposite-Lily Munster and Morticia Addams. Ignoring the fact that their houses were supposed to look like that, each prided themselves on the appearance of their homes (well, Morticia had servants). Both were devoted mothers, and Lily was often a font of wisdom for her niece, Marilyn (who was far closer to the "ideal" 60's woman).

It's interesting, maybe only to me, that Lily was one of the few TV wives who was portrayed as being more decisive and perhaps smarter than her husband. She swung into effective action to try to get the family out of a jam of Herman's making. Both of them, but especially Morticia, brought sex appeal back. She wasn't afraid to show "heat" with Gomez.

Maybe the only way TV mothers and wives could be that sexy and independent was to be almost freakish and foreign, especially to the "normal" people around them.
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Old 10-26-2012, 03:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJo View Post
Piggybacking off of Medusa's post....

I think some of the that is the same for me. I'm not into submission, but I am into service. I like to do things for the people in my life....partly because it makes them feel good, and partly because it makes me feel good.

And, yes, I confess there's a little bit of the superwoman thing too. I have prided myself on always supporting myself, working, taking care of my son, maintaining a home, putting myself through school, getting an advanced degree....and still being able to bake from scratch or make my own jam.

My pushy broad peeks in too....and I'm just as liable to be pushing the people in my life to do better, which I'm sure can be rather annoying.

See and that's the cool thing- doing it because you want to and it's who you are. Then it's not a submission. I love providing too, I love giving and smoothing the corners, and knowing just how to take care of someone. But if the dynamic shifted to where I was supposed to do that because of the name behind my role in the relationship, and that it wasn't an option for me if I wasn't feeling it one day...that's when the scale tips.
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Old 10-26-2012, 03:14 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJo View Post
Piggybacking off of Medusa's post....

I think some of the that is the same for me. I'm not into submission, but I am into service. I like to do things for the people in my life....partly because it makes them feel good, and partly because it makes me feel good.

And, yes, I confess there's a little bit of the superwoman thing too. I have prided myself on always supporting myself, working, taking care of my son, maintaining a home, putting myself through school, getting an advanced degree....and still being able to bake from scratch or make my own jam.

My pushy broad peeks in too....and I'm just as liable to be pushing the people in my life to do better, which I'm sure can be rather annoying.



Medusa and I talked about stuff like this, how it's not submission (unless it is) when I cook and do house stuff I do them because I like to and want to and because they need to be done. They aren't gender specific in my head. YET when I do bring the family their plate, served, I am coming from my very clear cultural space. You soy la Madre the hand that feeds. I'm specific how and who is served I control it. I can do this and connect with my property and extend my Dominant energy without interrupting the flow of what's going on and not making the family uncomfortable. My gestures are particular and then yes, I am the nurturing, sweet perfection of all things Feminine with the small hint of POWER.


That's why the "June" thing doesn't connect because I can never, ever be her no matter how I try race and culturally we are worlds apart.
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Old 10-26-2012, 03:27 PM   #19
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I think what is different about the oppression of women in the fifties and now is that it was sold to us as the norm, as the way to be a real woman, and we believed it. When we didn't believe it, there were sanctions to enforce it, including violence. There are many women still who lack power in their relationships and who suffer because of that. When patriarchal ideology is is used to justify these conditions, as it sometimes is among conservative religious folk, it becomes that much harder for women to realize that they are being ill-treated, to find allies, and to get out.

The conservative women who live these lives and love it -- and there are a lot of them -- I say you are lucky. Lucky that it worked out for you. If you had gotten the wrong husband or perhaps had been very poor, what hell might it have been for you? I hope they think about that the next time they teach in Sunday School that women should obey their husbands.

Women really lacking power and being oppressed -- that's nothing I support in any way. Pretending to lack power in that and even more sickening scenarios -- I am up for that. I like much more twisted shit than that. (not sharing).

As for people who live something that LOOKS like a traditional hierarchical arrangement but isn't, good for you. Have at it. I mean, who cares? I don't see any group of lesbians or feminists criticizing women for choosing whatever kind of arrangements. I think for most, the operative word would be "choose." There may be a few, but it's no one's public agenda to tell folks how to relate to their partners. Feminists are too busy trying to make sure unfunded battered women's shelters stay open and busy trying to protect abortion rights.

The Martha Stewart phenomenon is, I think, bad and good. Seventies feminism was about claiming the public sphere for women. The eighties conservative reaction -- Izod and proms and Martha Stewart -- was, in part, a backlash, but in part a reclaiming of the things we liked about the world before feminism, including homemaking. Martha is more popular among working class women who don't have the time or resources to do what she does or live as she does than she ever was with upper middle class women. It's a fantasy. It's not a bad one if you don't take it too seriously. It's not just about being all things to all people, knowing everything, doing everything well. It's about pleasure and self-care. It's also about one's relationship to consumerism. Do you make it yourself or buy it? If you buy it, what are you buying? Where are you getting it from? For some people, it's a political issue, for some it's about the quality of the experience. More and more, it's about both.

The recession has resulted in more focus on the home. It's cheaper to be home than go out. And so many people have lost their homes that I think we appreciate them more. Figuring out one's relationship to the home and homemaking is not easy.

Re June Cleaver, I would do her. I would lift that shirt dress over her head and . . . .
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Old 10-26-2012, 03:30 PM   #20
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I think that a lot of folks that romanticize the 50's simply never lived in that time and place.

TV aways looks better than reality!

I grew up in the 50's and 60's. What I saw in my home and the home of my friends, never matched TV.

My ex-husband was the oldest of 10. His mom was very traditional and that was what he expected of me. Unfortunately for him, from the get-go, I knew something was wrong with that picture-for me.

The day he told me that my "job" as his wife was to starch and iron all 20 of his dress shirts and hang them color-coordinated in the closet, was the day I said, "Fuck this". I put my baby in the car (had one child then), drove to the library, found the Robin Morgan anthology, Sisterhood is Powerful (hence the bumper sticker later on, on my 1974 Super Beetle); and my consciousness began to be raised.

I started facilitating consciousness raising groups in our living room (oh yeah, he really loved that!). The stories that the older women would tell of their life-long struggles to be the perfect wives and mothers of the 40's and 50's were heartbreaking. The problem with perfect is that it is unattainable!

I used my dog-eared NOW CR booklet each week and each week watched those women grow into stronger, more self-assured women, developing confidence in themselves and a life outside of the home. They began to accept that they could never achieve Donna Reed or June Cleaver.

As they gained confidence, so did I.

I believe that choosing a life, is very different than having one thrust upon you or being told that you "should" live a certain way.

June Cleaver really does not exist.

She was a Hollywood writer's creation.

We are flesh and blood women. Very human and far from perfect.

PS: I never did starch and iron those shirts, nor were the hung up color-coordinated.

I took them to the dry cleaner's.
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