The suggestions that modern-day women have somehow ‘lost’ their femininity have been floating around for quite some time (and yes, each of those is a link to a separate blog. If you ain’t convinced, just Google ‘modern women losing femininity’, or something to that effect). Often, the accusers are people who wish for more home baking and less pointing out of their inherently sexist attitudes. However, this article by Sarah Berry reached a new level of ridiculousness. Not only does she manage to suggest that modern-day women are somehow ‘less feminine’ (because they’re working more, y’see – that inherently more work = less feminine) but she also spruiks a hilarious sounding ‘workshop’, whereby women can ‘reconnect’ with their feminine ways via a heart-shaped pillow, a tour of their own genitalia, and an outline of which archetype they need to channel (do you need more ‘Warrior’ in your life, or are you lacking a little ‘Caregiver’?).
I’m about as impressed as this cat:
“I believe we strongly undervalue the feminine in this society,” says sex therapist, Jacqueline Hellyer. “Women’s liberation in the 70s… was a great thing [and] led to definite improvements in the status of women… but, to achieve that status, women had to prove that they could be like men… that’s fine, but… what it did show was that… women have to be like men to succeed in society.”
Conversely to male stereotypes, “the essence of the feminine is to be soft on the outside and strong on the inside,” says Hellyer. “In fact it’s only by being soft on the outside that your inner strength [can] emanate. Otherwise, as a woman you’re creating a false strength on the outside, which is hard to sustain, is brittle and prevents your true strength from blossoming and showing.”
Hang on. CONVERSELY to male stereotypes is the “essence of the feminine”. So….wait on. You’re firstly saying that the opposite to male stereotype (which, stereotypes in and of themselves are not something to aspire to) is an “essence of the feminine” – and THIS is something we need to be reaffirming? We should reinforce a traditional, sexist stereotype in order to length our “inner strength emanate”? Well, heck. You sold me. Saddle up the pink ponies, y’all, because tomorrow, WE RIDE FOR THE 1800s!
To be quite honest, I’m going to go ahead and let my inner strength emanate in all kinds of places – and none of them involve releasing my “feminine essence” and having to bake a cake. What I will do involves kicking ass at runs, or writing a ranty blog (like this!), or simply doing well at work. I may also involve the occasional “traditional” feminine activity, but I don’t NEED TO DO THAT in order to reaffirm my femininity.
The idea that we have to get ‘back in touch’ with something that we have apparently ‘lost’ is completely untrue. Gender roles change as society changes – and this isn’t a bad thing. The idea that a woman’s femininity is somehow inherently linked with her ability to bake a roast dinner is at best misguided, and at worst an outright and oppressive lie. Not all women are traditionally ‘feminine’, and femininity is a concept that is completely up for grabs. It’s insulting to the vast array of females (and males!) on this planet to suggest that women have somehow “learnt to withhold their warmth and tenderness”. And I say this to you with all the warmth and tenderness I can conjure after reading that steaming pile of rubbish.
I’m not disagreeing with the idea that femininity is a strength, but I don’t wish to get femininity confused with the stereotype of a 1950s housewife. Not all women are “warm” and “soft”, and not all women are preventing their “true strength from blossoming and growing” simply because they naturally aren’t inclined to be a caregiver, or to want to insanely well at their job. Some women may perform more stereotypically masculine roles, and some men prefer to emulate more traditionally female roles. This is a wonderful, great thing, because it means we’re breaking down gender barriers. I have enough faith in humanity to be assured that we’ll work out who takes care of the kids and who runs the companies along the way. We don’t need to divide this shit up based purely on a person’s gender.
As for the ‘archetypes’ offered at these women’ only sexuality based workshops? You know, these ones:
The Amazon (Engages on an equal level), the Good-time Gal (About playtime and fun), the Maestra (Virtuosity and sexual skill), The Empress (Likes to take control), The Earth Gypsy (Sensual and spiritual), The Madonna (Nurturing), The Susceptive (Yielding and responsive) and The Seductress (Alluring).
Obviously, NO. NO, and uh, NO, and again just for good measure, NO. These are ridiculous. No matter how you try to say it, this is just a new and improved version of stereotypes. Women are different – they can’t be shoved into neat little boxes according to how “nurturing” or “alluring” they are. More particularly, these archetypes are frustrating purely because of the lack of terms. Sure, there’s a tonne of traditional female-based ones (yielding, responsive, susceptive, alluring, nurturing, virtuosity) and then there’s a few non-gendered ones (likes to engage on an equal level, playtime and sexual skill) and then there’s one (ONE!) measly ‘take control’ archetype – the ‘Empress’ (and doesn’t she just sound like a barrel of laughs). In sum, this won’t be making for gender-equal bedroom fun times, my friends. This makes for females being provided with a number of susceptive, responsive, yielding sexual roles, and only one that I would argue is truly ‘active’. Same stereotypes, updated names.
Femininity is completely up to the individual, and it is none of society’s goddamn business what a woman wants to do with hers. If she feels more ‘feminine’ after running 10 kilometres in the mud and rain, then more power to her. Modern day women put up with enough shit without being guilt-tripped into attending completely bonkers, outdated workshops on how to ‘reconnect’ with their inner feminine strength.