Work in Membership Categorisation Analysis (MCA) has clearly shown that restricting our analytical focus to participants’ orientations can provide a very powerful demonstration of how social and cultural categories are not only produced for local rhetorical effects but are also oriented to by the participants as short cuts to shared cultural and moral knowledge of the norms for appropriate behaviour (Stokoe 2003, 2012). This talk draws on MCA to examine a corpus of naturally occurring talk about smoking by women smokers from an ethnomethodological perspective to address the conference themes of culture and context. The analysis shows how taken-for-granted cultural knowledge about smokers and smoking is invoked in the women’s categorisations of themselves and other women who smoke. Moreover, in talk that is ostensibly about smoking and not about gender, participant orientation to the impact of smoking on their performance of gender/femininity lays bare tacit knowledge of gendered norms and ideologies that are interwoven and negotiated across turns at talk. The analysis thus follows Schegloff’s advice that ‘rather than beginning with gender ideologies … the analysis might begin by addressing what the parties to the interaction understand themselves to be doing in it’ (1998: 415). In so doing, the analysis reveals how the participants orient to the local production of a hegemonic femininity (Schippers 2007) as a resource to manage their own problematic categorisation as a smoker. This realigning of the concept of hegemonic femininity in line with the EM/CA emphasis on participant orientation draws on Housley and Fitzgerald’s (2002) reworking of Membership Categorisation Analysis to focus on the “in-situ and locally occasioned character of members’ category work”. Hegemonic femininities and pariah femininities in this perspective are understood as in situ practical interactional achievements that are nonetheless oriented to achieving relationships of ascendancy that legitimate gendered power relations.