By: Dani Kessel
As a person, I tend to be very self-aware. I like to surround myself with people that will challenge me. I don’t just accept my own opinions as the right ones, and I like to take the time to break down my perspective on really complex issues. It is only through confronting our thoughts, beliefs, biases that we continue to grow as people. I don’t ever want to stop growing and evolving. So, this week, I want to break down and reflect on my view on femininity as a concept.
About 4 weeks ago, one of my sisters was in town, and my family was having a game night. We were playing Apples to Apples. When it was my turn, I pulled the green card saying, “Feminine.”
I groaned really hard.
Then, I said, “Come on. Why’d I have to pick this card? It says feminine.” My sister turned to me and said, “You know being feminine isn’t a weakness, right?” I quickly responded, “I know it isn’t. I just am not feminine. I’m not a feminine person. Why am I the one who picked this card?” Then we just went on with our game.
Later that week, I started thinking about why she would say that. I’ve never given anybody a hard time for wearing makeup or wearing dresses or anything like that. I am not putting shame on a person for enjoying pink (even though I despise the color) or being artsy. The more I thought about it though, the more I started to confront my own biases. I will groan about long hair and pink on everything in the women’s section and only finding frilly superhero shirts in women’s cuts. I’ll complain when women are expected by society to be a homemaker and idyllic wife.
Introspecting for a while, I realized that I am heavily negative towards overall femininity in the way I speak, despite feeling otherwise.
Here is what I actually intend on being negative about when speaking on the matter: gender expectations.
I was pushed for a long time to be more feminine. I was teased at school for wearing boys clothes. Teachers told me I should be involved in cheerleading instead of soccer. (Which is a whole other thing since people look down at cheerleading as not a serious sport. It is though.) My mom would try to make me buy more dresses or skirts or frilly things. I was swayed by peers away from science or video games or comic books; all of these were things I loved. I just never had any personal interest in anything considered feminine.
Truly, I wish that men who want to could wear makeup and dresses while women who want to could rock cropped hair and tattoos. I wish that some women could wear ruffle-y dresses while others wear plaid button ups and leather jackets. Men should be welcome to do yoga and watch rom-coms while others go four-wheeling and hunting. I wish men could be nurturers and caretakers while women are engineers and physicists. Confidence and assertiveness are frowned upon in women, and soft-spokenness and compassion are shamed with men. The whole concept of gender expectations are upsetting and wrong.
GENDER EXPECTATIONS ARE THE WORST!
Reflecting back on it, it probably does seem like I think femininity is weaker or lesser than masculinity when I speak the way I do. That isn’t true. I really just am negative towards the gender expectations placed on individuals from society, peers, and parents. I need to be better at expressing this. I cannot be the person that makes the kiddos in my life think there is something wrong with them liking traditionally feminine interests and traits. I am all for them expressing their femininity or androgyny or masculinity in whatever way they feel fits themselves. If I appear to shame their femininity due to my own hatred of gender expectations, I am only putting more pressure and gender expectations on them.
I will work on shifting my dialect and expression to better communicate my thoughts.
I will work on reinforcing my perspective that all variations of femininity/androgyny/masculinity are valid and wonderful.
I will work to be a more positive, inclusive individual.