Thread: Feminine
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Old October 22nd, 2004, 06:44 PM   #4
WA114
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 551
Interesting question.

Our patriarchal society I think has a lot to do with it. Consider the following words, first as they relate to men, then as they related to women:

Powerful
Aggressive
Forceful
Ambitious
Assertive
Competitive
Expert
Authoritative

It's interesting that when we think of competitive, ambitious, or aggressive in terms of women, there are negative connotations. Maybe we think of Joan Collins in her role as Alexis Carrington.

Or maybe we think of the eager, backstabbing go-getter who would rather have a career than children.

We think perhaps of someone who is deceitful, dishonest, traitorous -- someone who will go over others' heads to get ahead.

But why do we think this way? Why negative blocks and associations? Traditionally women have been expected to place others' needs before their own and similarly, women have been expected to defer to men.

Stands to reason that for some, using the words above in reference to women may be uncomfortable because of dominant cultural expressions of women as powerless, meek, submissive.

As we well know, a woman <i>can</i> be ambitious, powerful, competitive, aggressive <i>without</i> necessarily being deceitful, shrewd, unfriendly, cold, heartless, unapproachable, closed off, conniving.

I'm also not saying that there aren't associations as far as men are concerned. Sometimes aggression, power, and forcefulness are measures of success. Other times, they are associated with barbarism or a "bestial" character. Hitler was both -- a brilliant orator who was able to sway people and also one of the most villainous people in modern history. An extreme example, granted, but it does make the point.

I know this probably doesn't direcly answer your question, but nevertheless, I hope it gives you and others here something to think about.

It's time for women to reclaim their rights to power and to avoid doing so at others' expense. More importantly, we need to develop a new vocabulary and to rewrite definitions. Doing so will give a context within which we can define our experiences -- this is very self-empowering.

I don't believe, as brede said, that a woman necessarily has to be all frills and lace to be feminine. Being strong, assertive, and comfortable in her own skin and with her womanhood -- at least to me -- are what makes her feminine. It's more a question of how she perceives and carries herself.
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