For 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?