Like last weeks word, I have to admit that I have had thoughts about this keyword. I couldn’t really not think about it, with femininity being the polar opposite of masculinity. There are elements to this piece that have been going around in my head for a while, but this is the first time I’ve published these ideas on my blog.
Femininity, to me, is being caring and empathic, protective and kind. Femininity is about being selfless, and putting the needs of others above your own. It is why the verb “mothering” is so similar to the name of the female parent, as mothers instinctively demonstrate these traits towards their children. And indeed, before they have children and become mothers, they may demonstrate them towards their partner, or before that, towards their dolls. It’s all instinctive, and natural. Empathy is crucial in forming strong social bonds, and is synergistic with being kind. Quite often, being kind in a selfless, feminine way requires an almost psychic level of forethought in which a person can see what someone else needs before they know they need it. I’m not saying being psychic is a feminine trait, because reading minds is impossible, but being able to notice a subtle change in someone else’s behaviour, noticing a little shift in their body language or their comfort level, being sensitive to their needs, and then knowing what will soothe their ills and support their efforts, well, that is a kind of psychic ability. It’s like when people say magic isn’t real – and they miss the little magic that happens on a daily basis. Magic isn’t saying words out loud, waving a wand and conjuring effects from thin air. It’s not spectacular and visceral like in the movies. Magic is the little things, the little actions that make living in the world a bit more agreeable.
Alchemy is a kind of transmutation of emotional elements. Empathic people, especially ones that have a healthy degree of self-awareness and employ a feminine style of conversation are modern-day alchemists. There is a distinct feminine style of conversation, in which problems and feelings are explored. This is opposed to the masculine style of communication, which is solution-focused. A conversation with an alchemist will give you a new perspective on a problem, and potentially solve it without actually discussing solutions. It’s like the difference between counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Counselling is explorative and open-ended, whereas CBT is based around exercises and is solution-focused. I hope you can understand the difference I am presenting here.
I’m trying to stay positive in this piece, but like last week when I mentioned “toxic” masculinity, I feel I should mention the current state of femininity. In some respects, traditional femininity is being demonised. Some people equate being a caring individual that enjoys supporting their partner to slavery. Certain feminine traits such as being submissive are frowned upon, and young women are encouraged to be “fierce”, whether they want to be or not. I agree that a certain amount of confidence is a desirable trait in all humans, but it does seem to be taken too far in some cases, to the point they become obnoxious. That reminds me of what I wrote last week about the undercurrent of violence being present in male confrontations. It is not a feminine trait to use violence to resolve issues, and it is not at all socially acceptable to hit a woman. Being loud, overly disagreeable and needlessly aggressive are not nice traits in anyone, but the fear of violent escalation always used to keep the men that displayed those traits in check.
I never mentioned the physical attributes of masculinity, so I won’t mention the physical attributes that tend to be attributed to femininity. These are becoming more fluid in our modern times. I will be exploring the relationship between masculinity and femininity next week, when the key-word is “Balance” – specifically in relation to the balance between the two natures. I hope you’ll join me.
As part of my ongoing quest for greater self-awareness and my continued personal and professional development, I picked a word and wrote about it for sixty minutes. Leave a comment on here with a new word for me to explore in the future or you could suggest one on Twitter (@Iain_D_Stewart).