I’ve heard of this rampaging wenchbeast before, though never by that name— she is known by many names among modern feminists and like-minded people. The fact that you describe her as an archetype is important, and, I feel, ought to be looked into more closely. It means, for one, that she does not really exist. She is a symbol, a representation of what certain social groups value in females, of what a gender should aspire to. Like the Barbie-like Stepford Wife also mentioned, she is a product of our collective cultural imagination. You are unlikely to run into either of these women on the street; instead you will run into thousands who fall somewhere in between, part Eve, part Lilith, and part many other things that make them complicated and human. Take me, for example.
Until I started preschool, my favorite color was green. I chose green from a purely visual perspective, and I still find green to be a very beautiful color, soothing and lush. But after I started preschool, my favorite color became pink. I was a little girl. You can understand how this might happen, no? One way you could put it is that I was socialized into denying my true feelings in order to conform to society’s gender role expectations. Another way you could look at it is this: I became aware of the symbolic values my culture had endowed certain colors with, and realized that my choice of a particular color as my ‘favorite’ was a potential avenue through which I could express myself. One of these options is what you could call the traditionally ‘feminist’ interpretation; the other one allows me some dignity. To be honest, I don't remember precisely what was going through my five-year-old head at the time.
Fifteen years later, I have a confession to make: I wear make-up. Foundation, blush, eye shadow, and mascara, on a daily basis, and I like it. I like putting it on and I like the way I look with it on. I also buy fashion magazines sometimes. I like to look at the clothes: I like the idea of decorating my body with such lovely things, I like the colors, the textures, the flow of fabric. But more than that, I also like to look at pictures of beautiful women, and compare them, and compare myself to them. I don’t only like to look at pictures of very thin, very tall women with high cheekbones, and I wish Vogue would show a much wider variety of human beauty, but I still like to flip through the glossy pages.
I used to pretend otherwise, though, because I thought if I endowed my culture’s ideas of femininity with some legitimacy, they would become the only truth: if I tried to make myself up like a fashion model, my physical attractiveness and overall 'girliness' would become the sole measure of my worth. So instead I gravitated toward the idea of that rampaging wenchbeast: I thought I had a better chance of pulling that off. As a teenager, I dressed to look like I didn’t care what I looked like, and most people were fooled. I railed against fashion, make-up, flirting, men’s sexual urges, cheerleading, ballerinas, dolls, and the color pink. I had a copy of The Vagina Monologues taken away from me by a teacher in the school cafeteria, and felt that spark of womanly indignation— it felt good.
But honestly, I was always giving that magazine rack sideways glances. Never buying girly magazines at fifteen was a lot like wearing a pink dress instead of a green one at five, symbolic actions that, at the time, I felt to be more important than my simple preferences. I was pretending not to care about ‘shallow’ things like how attractive men found me compared to other girls my age. But I did care. Not because society told me to, but because I, as a person, cared. It’s a natural thing to care about. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to feel that there is nothing wrong with this. You can be a strong woman and still want to be a pretty girl sometimes. You can be yourself, and forget about what is or is not ‘true womanhood.’