Is Feminism killing Femininity?


Through this post I would like to answer the important question: Is Feminism killing Femininity?

What is Feminism really?

Feminism believes in Equality. It anti-injustice. 

Feminism questions gender norms. It condemns patriarchy and empowers women. 

Feminism does not propagate supremacy of women. Neither is it anti-men. Nor is it against our culture. 

Now let us see why some people think that this egalitarian principle is considered anti-feminine and whether this assumption holds any water. Here are some Myths about Feminism:

Feminists don’t like girly things

Here is the first paragraph from Wikipedia on Femininity

Femininity (also called girlishness, womanliness or womanhood) is a set of attributes, behaviours, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Femininity is partially socially constructed, being made up of both socially-defined and biologically-created factors. This makes it distinct from the definition of the biological female sex, as both males and females can exhibit feminine traits.

It sure seems so that Wikipedia supports Feminism. Because of this line - ‘This makes it distinct from the definition of the biological female sex, as both males and females can exhibit feminine traits.’

From the above line, it can be deduced that femininity is not restricted to just the female gender! Even males can be feminine. And if you are a Feminist, you will not think less of a man who is effeminate. I loved this answer from Manu Kanchan on Quora about how Feminism expands the idea of womanhood.

Now femininity is also socially constructed. So it could change from time to time. It doesn’t have to be a rigid definition. 

The #LikeAGirl campaign threw light on the fact that sexism sets in from a very young age. It asked the important question why “run like a girl” could not mean “win the race”.

By the above logic, why does femininity have to mean “delicate” or “submissive”?

Why can’t femininity mean “strong” or “independent”? 

Feminism doesn’t lay down rules and regulations on how people need to look or behave. As long as they are aware of their rights, 

Feminism does not have a problem with people embracing their femininity whichever way they define it. 

Feminists are not feminine and hence are not attractive

Traditionally women had to look a particular way (read: long hair, clear skin, pink cheeks, petite figure) to be considered feminine and hence attractive. But why does a world filled with millions of women, need to fit one mould? And why should they give in to someone else’s definition? Why can’t a strong or independent woman still be attractive to men? A secure and evolved man will be attracted to the qualities that make a woman stand out rather than those that make her fit in.

Just like the definition of femininity is open to interpretation, so is the subject of attraction. 

Femininity is a part of our culture while feminism is not

Femininity has traditionally been associated with stereotypical roles based on stereotypical behaviours. Based on the notion that women are more kind and caring, they have been expected to play roles of caregivers: homemakers, doctors, teachers etc. Feminism questions these norms. It encourages women to pursue a profession most suited to their individual strengths. Division of labour in earlier times was based on strength. Today when jobs are all about mental abilities and aptitude, the traditional roles don’t make sense. But it does not make it against our culture or tradition. 

People define their culture, not the other way around.

Feminism has killed romance

Some people argue that Feminism is unromantic. I would vehemently disagree. It is the Feminist that wears its rose-tinted glasses and imagines a world where a woman is truly at the centre of her own world. She doesn’t need permission from anyone to pursue her dreams. She doesn’t have to wait for her Prince Charming; she could pursue him. He doesn’t have to be the only one lighting the scented candles, she could surprise him as well. 

When a balance is achieved in giving and receiving, both men and women can experience romance.

Feminists traded femininity for power

Now, I have to admit that women have in the past, tried to look like a man by wearing trousers to work so that they would fit in. Today more and more women dress whichever way the wish. But when Feminism preaches equality, it does not mean men and women have to look alike. According to Feminism, anyone who has the capabilities to get to the corner office, he/she must sit in it. It should not matter what they look like or wear. 

One's gender definitely should not be an impediment to their professional pursuits.

From the above I guess it is clear that - 

Feminism hasn’t killed Femininity. It has redefined it.



Comments

  1. Oh Thank goodness. I came charging to your blog to argue with your misconceptions about feminism -till I read what you had written - hahahah.

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  2. Hahaha. So cool. Good. That means I ll get some non-beleivers also in here.

    Your post made me smile. Thanks so much for visiting.

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  3. Decoding Feminism! Great work!!

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  4. Femininity is something that should not be confused with being a female as you said. In an ideal world, there would be no such thing as femininity. Atleast not the parts of it that are a social construct.

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  5. Thanks Meena. I am decoding it more so for my benefit. I honestly believe...You Live You Learn.

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  6. This is a brilliant post and you are so apt to say that Feminism has redefined femininity.

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  7. Hey Arjun. Good to see you here. There is nothing wrong with embracing Femininity or Feminism. The negative connotation is what's harmful to both.

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  8. Thanks Balaka for the visit and comment.

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  9. This is a very well written article. you covered all the points and brilliantly explained them. It was a great read, Ashwini :)

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  10. Thanks Purba so much for your kind words. I appreciate the encouragement.

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  11. This is a well-explained article Ashwini, feminism and feminity! Both have many misconceptions attached and its good to understand the core difference well.

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  12. Thanks Dipika. Welcome to my blog. Glad you liked what I wrote. Hope to see you soon.

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  13. Novemberschild8:29 pm

    Feminism is expanding the ideas of womanhood to match the actual reality of women's experiences.

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  14. This is feminism well decoded!

    Most men (and women) have a completely wrong notion about feminism. Like you mentioned, they look at feminism as a movement to overthrow male dominance and replace it with female supremacy, when in reality it is a movement to establish equal treatment of women.

    Wonderful fact-finding and myth-busting post :)

    Cheers,
    CRD
    Scripted In Sanity

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  15. Anonymous11:28 pm

    I read a very simple definition somewhere - Feminists ask for their right to have opinions and choices. as simple as that. Just like nobody judges men when they go to work, or come home late, or don't wear thousands of suhaag ki nishaanietc. don't judge women too. Let us choose how to live and don't judge us for it.
    Priya from priyreflects

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  16. An awesome article Ashwini ... I have women friends who denounce feminists as man-haters without understanding the philosophy at all.

    If we give girls only kitchen sets and pink and boys only cars ... and ask our girls to do house work and not the boys ... we are creating stereotyping. People need to understand tasks, emotions, personality trains - there are not gender dependent.

    https://lonelycanopyblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/legend-of-bhangarh-fort/

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  17. Hi Romila. Welcome to my blog. Thanks for your comment. The definition of feminism is granting equality of rights to all genders. But with one having had relatively more privilege, what you're saying is an important part of the movement.

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  18. Hi CRD. Thanks for your comment. Guess I was successful in my small way in getting the message of Feminism across. Appreciate your views.

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  19. Feminism talks of equality of rights. I agree with you Priya. Not only are most women not allowed to exercise their rights, they are judged if they exercise those rights that are against the norms.

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  20. Hi Seema. :) WB. You are right. There are norms set as per patriarchy and those get followed unquestioned. It's tough to break these age old conditioning...but hey Rome wasn't built in a day!

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  21. I love how well structured your post is and how it touches upon all the relevant issues.

    To me feminism is about making all the choices available to women. It is not about old against new, men against women, but it is about opening up more avenues so everyone has more choices, whether a man wants to be a SAHD or a women wants to be a CEO or vice-versa, as long as they all get to make the choices that work best for them.

    Like you said, women should not be restricted to femininity, nor should they be thought less of for adhering to it. It should be the choice of every woman to be as she she likes irrespective of how feminine it is.

    What is worse is that femininity itself is considered not as glamorous or useful as masculinity. that needs to change too. Feminine traits need to be respected just as much as masculine one. For example watching soaps and watching sports are both passive forms of entertainment but watching sports is more highly regarded than watching soaps because it is more common for men to indulge in this form of entertainment.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kanika. Welcome to my blog. :) Thanks for your comment.

      I agree with you. Feminism is about equal rights esp. that to choose for oneself. Never thought of the soaps and sports similarity. Wonderful insight.

      Hope to see you around. :)

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  22. What a powerful post Ashwini. I am glad I discovered you through this challenge. Feminism is the most misconstrued concept though it merely means that women should be free to have choices and create their own 'happily ever after '.

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