As someone who grew up in a post-feminist world, I didn’t think much about many of the messages myself and other women were being told but just accepted them as truths, just like I accepted the sky was blue.
However now that I am older and starting to question these beliefs I think one place where feminism really threw the baby out with the bathwater was with the notion that feminine traits were weakness and to be avoided.
I now question if in one fell swoop that type of thinking actually weakened one of women’s most powerful sources of strength, her womanliness. And it reinforced that being a woman somehow was “less” and that women who want to be taken seriously should start acting like men and avoid acting like women.
There are many examples of this message, such as the power woman pantsuit (complete with shoulder pads to give the illusion one was a linebacker) favored by the career women of the 1980s who wanted to be “taken seriously.”
Women were discouraged from wearing dresses, make up, having long hair, and the androgynous, flat chested, straight waist figures of Twiggy and pre-pubescent looking models like her that followed were deemed “better” (by feminists) than hourglass curves. To try to be or care about looking pretty was practically a crime and women who did retain feminine appearances were deemed bimbos or victims and all sorts of things.
But really, what’s “wrong” with being a woman? What’s wrong with being womanly? Wasn’t this supposed to be about choice? Why then was being a career woman in a traditionally male field suddenly the pinnacle of success while women who wanted to be mothers and homemakers were openly scorned as “less than?”
I find it interesting that men, on the other hand, (or most, anyway) didn’t seem to adopt a preference for women who acted like men. They by and large continued to prefer women being womanly. Perhaps in some weird way, this banishment of the feminine led to it almost becoming fetishized, only increasing the draw.
It’s kind of a silly story, but case in point. One time I showed up at a friend’s house party (I was about 35 or so) on Halloween but for some reason it didn’t dawn on me that it was a costume party. Everyone else was dressed up and there I was in a long sleeved t-shirt and jeans. So I dug through my friend’s closet, found a cowgirl hat and some boots, shoved two balloons in my shirt, and said I was dressed as a cowgirl with more money than sense, or in other words didn’t know when to stop when it came to breast implants. (I am medium chested naturally, but with the added balloons I was more in the Dolly Parton category.)
Everybody knew they were balloons and that it was a joke. But by golly, I was shocked to find myself the belle of the ball, even though there were gals there is sexier, skimpier, vampier costumes. Guys of all ages from their young 20s to their late 60s were tripping over themselves to fetch me a drink, open the door, and to just hover about. All night there was a circle of men around me, like moths to a flame (and yes, the gals were in a snit.) All because of two balloons stuffed under a plain long sleeved t-shirt. Wow. What?
(Interestingly, the attention didn’t seem sexual necessarily, harassing, creepy, or oppressive. It was more like admiration or adoration for lack of a better term. Like I was a goddess, or something.)
No, I didn’t go get breast implants, but that night was a very interesting lesson in the power of the feminine and the strong draw it has for the opposite power, the masculine.
So ladies, if you truly want to wear navy blue power suits, by all means. But if you are wearing them but secretly wish you could be a little more feminine but are afraid that if you do, that it will somehow diminish your power, let me argue you may just find the opposite.
If you don’t believe me, give it a try. And too bad I didn’t post this before Halloween, but if there’s ever an opportunity to put some balloons in your shirt and see what happens, as an experiment into the power of the feminine, go for it. I have a feeling you will be surprised at the results.
In short, it’s ok to be a woman. Being a woman or being womanly does not make you “less than” anything. Really. Women are great. Men are great. Men AND women can both be great. So be who you are. And if that is a feminine women (or not), by golly, go ahead!
Let those who have ears hear.
YOUR TURN: What do you think, dear readers? Do you think a woman dressing or acting feminine diminish her social power or standing? Or do you think a woman minimizing her femininity increases her odds of being taken more seriously?