I’m going to be honest, this is more of a rant/potential overreaction in response to a perceived injustice.
Perceived injustice in the form of something a friend/classmate said that I found both a) hurtful, b) thoughtless, and c) pretty damn problematic.
So definitely one of the lesser injustices in the world, but still something that raised a lot of feelings for me, which am now going to get off of my chest.
The remark was something along the lines of stating that pregnancy= peak femininity. At know time in a woman’s life is she more truly a “woman” than when she is with child.
Okay, my problems with that statement first, and then a list of ways I think we can be EVEN MORE FEMININE.
- A lot of women cannot, in fact, get pregnant. A lot of women feel broken, less than, and incomplete because they can not give birth to the children they desire (or that society has conditioned them to see as the defining purpose of their lives). Many women feel like failures if they have infertility issues.
I may be one of these women. For medical reasons, its quite possible that I won’t be fertile. I love children, and despite my fear of being a terrible mother and the pain of natural childbirth, having a baby is something I would really love to be in my future (witness my obsession with baby names, children’s books, and all manner of miniature person paraphernalia).
The takeaway here is- many women can’t have children and that doesn’t make them and less female.
- Defining the epitome of femininity as pregnancy- something kind of passive in that it is done to a woman by a man- is an issue for me. It’s a really reductive view of what it means to be a woman- i.e. to be a baby-making machine, an oven for a bun, a brood mare, (your analogy here). There is so much more to being a human woman than passing on your genes and prolonging the species. And I’m not talking about boobs either. It’s just such a dull view of what women can be. So biological, so without choice, so impersonal, so f*cking traditional and… medieval.
- Which brings me to I guess my last point, which is that society has conditioned women to see childbearing and motherhood as their final purpose, their definition, their ultimate test for hundreds if not thousands of years. It’s 2018. The idea of womanhood and femininity really needs to expand beyond basic biological processes to include all of the different things that womanhood and/or femininity (because anyone can be feminine, not only women- it’s a gender rather than sex thing) has to offer. There are so many different ways to be feminine. So many different life paths you can take. Deciding not to have children, being unable to have children, having an unconventional pregnancy or path to motherhood does not mean you’re not feminine or not a woman.
So here are some suggestions on alternative ways to reach peak femininity, that don’t involve getting knocked up. Or a penis. Or subjecting your body to drastic changes. Or a huge life choice that may or may not be what you want for yourself.
- Take female-specific multivitamins.
I have never felt more feminine that when popping a One-A-Day Women’s. Not sponsored.
- Watch a chickflick.
Do you self-identify as a chick? Is this a film you like? Then it’s a chickflick. Get it, girl.
You know, I can’t even do this anymore. I was googling ‘how to be feminine for more ideas that I could subvert, but they’re also a irritating, contradictory, and offensive that I can’t even complete this list.
Here are some favorites though:
- Speak softly/learn to be shy (but also cool and be outspoken)
No lie these four are all on the same list.
- Smell good.
Not like a smelly man.
- Don’t cut your hair.
After multivitamins, looking like Samara from The Ring has always made me feel particularly ladylike and attractive.
- Avoid arguments.
Well, failed that one.
But can we also just recognize that this disqualifies SO MANY AMAZING WOMEN WHO ARE KNOWN FOR THE THINGS THAT THEY’VE DONE AND THEIR OPINIONS AS OPPOSED TO THEIR LOOKS AND BREATHY VOICES?
Yeah, bye Rosa Parks.
And don’t even get me started on the angry black woman not fitting the ideal vision of femininity because I’m already going to explode.
- BUT DON’T FORGET: BE YOU AND LOVE YOURSELF FOR WHO YOU ARE
Yes, this is on the same list. Excuse me while I go jump in a lake.
I just looked at another list thinking of continuing but there’s so much more and I’m getting keyed up. It’s 8:30 am on Sunday and I’m calling it quits.
It’s funny how when there are huge systemic problems involved you can never actually success in getting your frustration off your chest because there’s just more and more and more and more.