I trawl through various Feminine tags quite often- whether it’s Femininity, Feminism, Gender Traditionalism, or any related tag that will deliver the content that I crave. During one such trawl today, however, I stumbled across two articles with a similar theme to them: That Femininity is weakness.
The first was an article titled Femininity and Vulnerability by an unnamed user who simply goes by “Oningyou”. The second was an article titled Call Me A Masculine Feminist by a user whose name is simply “mfai1”- one of several, it appears, who contribute to the blog.
Through all of my trawling, this concept… This idea… Is one which pops up often on every side of the debate- whether the author is for Femininity or against it. And I don’t know if either of their intent was truly to suggest that Femininity is weakness. It very well might not have been. But in reading both articles it was the underlying theme that came across to me; that to be Feminine is to be inferior, weak, and wholly dependant on those around you to take care of you- the last one being masked as encouraging vulnerability, being unashamed for needing help, and social dependence.
If you’ve been here for a while, you know that I am a hyperfeminine woman. Likewise, you’ve probably seen that develop over the years as I’ve worked hard to cultivate my own Femininity through various means- from participating in online challenges, taking classes, and reading anything that I could get my hands on (regardless of context), right down to studying Femininity in sociopolitical and academic contexts, and incorporating it into the very core of my religious practice; I am by no means a person who shies away from Femininity. Instead, I embrace it wholeheartedly- viewing it as something to celebrate instead of be ashamed of.
But even as a hyperfeminine woman, I am utterly opposed to the idea that Femininity is weakness. To say that Femininity is weakness is to assert that a woman cannot be both Feminine and strong; that to be one you must compromise on or outright sacrifice the other… And I dislike, with a passion more akin to a raging wildfire, the idea that a Woman cannot be both; that they cannot be independent and dependant, meek and assertive, dainty and strong, dominant and submissive; the idea that one set of qualities are only for Men, and the other is only for Women.
Once, power was considered a masculine attribute… [But] in fact, power has no sex. – Katharine Graham
Such an idea, in my eyes, ignores the fact that Gender does not truly exist. It is something that we ourselves have created through the arbitrary categorization of traits- traits (and the expectations we created based on them) which we then assigned to people based on the external appearance of their genitalia… And while I revel in the traits assigned to my own because they are what please and fulfil me? Gender is still a lie.
So why, then, is Femininity weakness? Why do those both for and against it assert that Femininity inherently requires that we sacrifice our strength, our independence, and our capability? Why do they assert that these traits cannot coexist with one another? Why can a woman not be both? And the answer to that, is that the idea that we cannot be both is also a lie- one which is equally as (if not moreso) toxic as the idea that Gender exists as a tangible and inherent thing in the first place.
A trait such as daintiness is not truly a Feminine trait any more than strength is a Masculine one; they are all neutral traits that are open to all sexes to cultivate within themselves as they see fit. Because of this, each person is capable of cultivating every trait within themselves- whether it is something like the quiet strength of a traditional Women, or the boisterous strength of a traditional Man, or anything in between… And not only are all of us fully capable of cultivating any and every one of these traits? We are also capable of expressing every trait differently, at different times.
You can be […] smart and tough and not lose your femininity. – Priyanka Chopra
But cultivating these traits in different ways, and expressing them differently at different times, does not mean that a person is in possession of (or only capable of possessing) only one of these traits- nor that cultivating each of them creates a conundrum or a conflict between those traits.
I can recognize that being emotionally and physically vulnerable, dainty, and delicate does not erase the fact that I can also be emotionally and physically strong; that strength and capability is not always tied to one’s stature and appearance, nor that one must always be strong at all times in order to truly be considered such.. And that sometimes true strength lies in the ability to allow one’s self to be vulnerable.
I can cultivate the capability and skill to take care of myself, and recognize that I don’t need to be taken care of by other people (independence)- but also recognize that being taken care of by and relying on someone else (dependency) is pleasant and enjoyable and reduces the stress of life; an ability to care for one’s self does not erase your social and communal needs as a Human Being- and just because you can take care of yourself, it doesn’t mean that you need to be the only one doing it at all times.
I can also recognize that meekness (the avoidance of creating unnecessary social disturbances or disputes; quietness, gentility, and submissiveness; a willingness to accommodate others) is a gracious social quality to cultivate within one’s self for a number of reasons, while also recognizing that it does not overrule the ability to be- and the necessity of being- assertive and aggressive at times; that caring about and minimizing your negative impact on others is a good thing, but it doesn’t necessitate being a doormat for everyone by default.
Accepting and recognizing this is to celebrate the inherent and incredibly multifaceted nature of Humans as a species. And If I’m being honest? I think that it’s high time that we did more of that… That we make more of an effort to recognize and accept the inherently neutral nature of these traits, and celebrate the multifaceted nature of humans more often- instead of deriding, chiding, and degrading; instead of taking borderline- if not overtly- ignorant and illogical potshots at personality traits (and the people who cultivate and express them) that, in reality, do not actually belong to any singular group of people.