there are a few topics that have been swirling in my mind lately, so much so that they are messing with my mojo. i just can’t sort out my words when it comes to the passionate thoughts i’m harbouring and without putting words to them, i don’t really feel so satisfied sharing words on anything else. this is one example.
femininity. i’m trying to work out what that means to me.
my knee jerk thought is of frills and lace, flowery dresses and aprons in soft colours. right away, i recognize that as an antiquated thought pattern. femininity can not be glued to old expectations and only tinged in hues of pink.
what has being a woman come to mean? what do we expect of ourselves and each other?
these seeds of thought were planted in a staggered row. it wasn’t just one thing, but many. little sprouts emerged from the ground and bound together. singly they may have gone unnoticed, but as they’ve grown and become bigger and stronger, they’ve formed these massive curiousities about myself as a woman, about the women around me and about my relationships with women and with men.
when i stumbled into a conversation on twitter, it got me thinking. while my partner in tweets launched with speculation about the increasing number of violent incidents involving girls and young women. i speculated that, as a gender, perhaps we’ve given up our connection to femininity as a trade-off for more masculine tendencies. at some point along the road, we threw equality out the window and began chasing sameness instead.
in another example, as part of the maybe baby program i participated in, i was blessed with the opportunity to hear dara mckinley speak about her experience of new motherhood. i’d expand on what she shared, but she’s done it much more eloquently in what that conversation prompted in her, this letter to her daughter.
the reason that both of the examples rang so deep into my soul is because when i let go of all the ego and finger pointing, i know i have been guilty of both. much of my identity has been built around being “one of the guys.” i have always worked in male dominated environments and found myself surrounded by men. under those circumstances, i have adopted habits that are distinctly male. i’m aggressive, can be abrasive and sometimes cold, but i could never put my finger on why, stepping outside of the situation, that sometimes left me feeling really bad as well. with my behaviour followed my goals and female relationships never quite made the cut. i’ve always had girlfriends, but never in the way that you see in movies or read about in books. with girlfriends there always seemed to be so much more work involved: the feelings, the talking, the communicating. when i really break it down, i’ve never been comfortable with my femininity and the huge lesson that realization brings with it is that no matter how regarded masculinity is as strong, femininity is so much more powerful. it’s also harder to tame.
a younger version of me would curse who i’ve become for investing so deeply in the belief that, despite what i preached in my twenties, men and women are vastly different. we were designed that way. just as we need dark to define light, night to define day, black to define white, we need masculine to define feminine. what i am struggling with now is how or why we cast our innate femininity aside in favour of blending in.
in the company of many women, feminine is the new f word. while it isn’t always overt, it has often come to be seen as a weakness or an insult. it’s been my experience that while much more subtle, misogyny is perpetuated by women ourselves far more than by the opposite sex. we hurt, bully and criticize each other far more frequently than is done by men. while men may control us in certain arenas, we support that in the every woman for herself approach we take to living together.
borrowed this image from the modest mom blogseems excessively stiff to me, too, but it makes a point about role reversal
femininity. i am attempting to work out what it means to me. in doing so, i am trying to catch up on years squandered on efforts to fit in with the opposite sex. my friendships with men will never pale in their importance and i believe that balance, as with anything, is key in life, but there is a woman in me who is also thirsty for the kind of self-knowledge that i think can only come from time spent with my own gender. until we can embrace the goddess in all of us and summon the courage to live as the people we were meant to be, we will never be able to feel fully satisfied.
ask around and you’ll see that femininity has a different meaning to everyone. one friend identified it as sexy, another said gentle and sensitive. by definition, anything a woman does can be considered feminine and we all know that a woman can do anything.
in truth, my definition is very similar to the first i presented up top. femininity to me is soft and nurturing, caring and giving. it’s also the most challenging endeavour i have accepted in a long time. much easier it is to hide behind strength and power than to be tender and vulnerable.
what is femininity to you? how do you celebrate it?