Feminism Kills Femininity?

blame-feministsFor some time I’ve been hearing from certain groups that the Women’s Movement has caused the end of traditional femininity in the Western world. As a result of the drop in feminine manner and attitude, relationships and marriages have suffered. Women have lessened their need for intimate relationships, while men are put off by the lack of “womanly wiles” and are seeking out other options to dealing with the independent Western woman.

As a supporter of equal treatment and opportunities for women, I am essentially a feminist. (I hesitate to claim the label, however, since I don’t subscribe to some of its basic principles). I am very clear about confronting sexism and misogyny, and the right of women to own and control their lives.

Yet despite my feminist leanings I enjoy many classically feminine behaviors, dress, and activities. I would much rather wear a skirt or dress than pants on any day, and even with many male friends, I have a special place in my heart for my female friends. Most people assume I am more traditional, conservative, and passive, and it takes a while for them to discover the strong opinions I hold on some topics. Experience has shown that I’m not rare in this aspect: many feminists are typically female in behavior and dress.

Understanding the importance of compromise in relationships, I’ve learned what I can from the teachings of the feminist movement, and left what is of no use to me or is clearly harmful to my goals. And that’s what many sensible feminists do. Desiring equal and fair treatment does not mean that one has to cast off what makes one unique as a woman. At the same time, assuming a demeanor that is unnatural to you will probably be unhelpful in the long run.

What do you think? Has feminism caused the decline of traditional femininity? Can a woman balance feminist views with conventional womanhood?

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6 thoughts on “Feminism Kills Femininity?

  1. I am conflicted on this because on the one hand, I think traditional femininity is annoying and needs to go the way of the dinosaur, BUT I’m sure that is due to the fact that I identify it as “silly, ruffly, giggling”. When I was 13, I remember my mother started adding more dresses and softer, pretty clothes to my wardrobe, with the comments “Try this Sherry, it is so feminine”. Well that made me turn it down immediately, because all the feminine girls were simpering and idiotic, and I was having NONE of that. I see now that my mother is feminine and she isn’t any of the above, and it sounds like you are not that either Miss Alee! I prefer dresses myself, especially short ones (an inch or so above the knee!) My hair is in Senegalese twists, and I do try to keep my eyebrows nicely shaped because they frame your face. I don’t do much more because I tend to doddle when getting dressed, and partly because it just seems hopeless as I have been feeling rather unappealing as of late. Thank you Miss Alee; you have given me some food for thought!

  2. Sherry,

    I got my ideas of femininity from my mother as well. She has always been a very traditionally feminine woman, but never giggly or simpering. 🙂

    Senegalese twists are beautiful. I agree that eyebrows are very important in framing the face; they can change your whole appearance.

    “Thank you Miss Alee; you have given me some food for thought!”

    You’re welcome and thank you for giving me something to ponder as well.

  3. Not sure what to say here. I was feminist when I was 14, that’s for sure! I am still a feminist to an extend, but I certainly don’t agree with everything so-called feminist say.

    Now, femininity. On one hand, I do consider myself feminine. On the other, I don’t think being feminine has anything to do with the way you dress, talk or walk. I am a tomboy. It just feels natural for me, even today. I never considered myself un-feminine because of that, though I must admit many people did. It was a bit tricky in my teens, when boys didn’t pay attention to me, but later you learn that you are who you are, and that you should not force yourself to change because of somebody else.

    That being said, I have nothing against women who like skirts and dresses, or who wear makeup and have styled hair. I just don’t consider them more feminine than tomboy women, that’s all.

    All in all, I am not sure if it has anything to do with feminism. I mean, “feminine” women are not automatically less feminist. It doesn’t work that way, no matter what some people try to say.

    PS- Also, I am not used to men being polite to me because I’m a woman. I grew up with my mother only, and she grew up with her mother and sister- men were not around while we were growing up. So you simply had to learn to do all the guy’s work and don’t expect anybody to help you. That’s why I don’t expect men to open the door for me, carry the bags for me, etc. I know there are some feminists who claim allowing these is bad for women, but I am not one of them. I have nothing against men treating women like ladies- I am just not used to such treatment and I don’t pay attention to it.

  4. Mira,

    I agree that femininity comes from within.

    “All in all, I am not sure if it has anything to do with feminism. I mean, “feminine” women are not automatically less feminist. It doesn’t work that way.”

    Some people do assume that. And the other way around as well — that feminists are less feminine.

    “why I don’t expect men to open the door for me, carry the bags for me, etc. I know there are some feminists who claim allowing these is bad for women, but I am not one of them.”

    Neither am I. I appreciate a guy wanting to help me out. But it can be annoying on occasions when they insist after you’ve declined their help. I’ve also run into many men that try to help me carry my bags or hold the door just so they can try to pick me up.

  5. I would much rather wear a skirt or dress than pants on any day

    Yes, but because of feminism, that dress is more likely to be shorter. I don’t think every woman has to dress in a pantsuit and pursue power like Hillary Clinton to be a feminist. I’d say 95% of women agree with feminist principles, and the majority of men.

    Aside from taking away from traditional household womanly values and probably upping the divorce rate (which you can argue is a good thing, rather than have people in abusive marriages) that feminism has made sexual femininity more popular and accepted.

  6. AJ, true, you can argue that feminism has allowed women to be more open about their sexually feminine side. But we’re more talking about traditional femininity, which is more modest.

    “I’d say 95% of women agree with feminist principles, and the majority of men.”

    I don’t know about that. 🙂

    You’d be surprised how many people say they support feminism, but say and do things that go against its basic tenets.

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