October 26, 2013

"If you are truly a feminine woman at your core, but don’t know how to let your femininity surface, you will end up unhappy, feeling miserable and depleted."

"It takes a lot of energy to reject a part of you that is there whether you like it or not. And even if you think you are happy, something will feel like it is missing some day. Why? Because you’re rejecting a part of yourself. Being able to claim your feminine energy is at the heart of your own happiness, and most definitely the happiness of your relationship."

From a post titled "How Most Women Reject their Femininity (and How you can stand out from the crowd)" at a website called "The Feminine Woman," written by Renee Wade. I stumbled into this the other day as I was participating in a Facebook discussion that got onto the topic of feminine beauty, and I went on a search looking for examples of the most feminine-looking face (not the most beautiful feminine face).
I'd remembered reading about a study that found that people thought a man's face was most appealing if it was slightly more feminine-looking than the average male face. I was wondering if the most beautiful female faces would be those exactly at what is the average among women or tending slightly masculine or tending slightly feminine. I know that the most extremely male-looking faces are experienced as ugly, but what about the most extremely feminine faces? I wasn't even sure what that would be. A very small, pointed chin? A tiny, tiny nose and gigantic eyes? I really don't even know.

I got sidetracked onto that "Feminine Woman" site, which I thought raised some interesting issues that I'd like to talk about. I'm not saying Renee Wade is a reliable expert or an impressive theorist in the realm of gender studies. I had a flashback to the "Total Woman"/Marabel Morgan phenomenon of the 1970s, which was, even then, ludicrously uncool.

I'd like to put aside the notion that women should be feminine — because that's what God or nature intended or because it's traditional or the foundation of society or whatever you (or somebody else) might think.

I'm interested in individual expression, freedom, and happiness.

Let's hypothesize that there is something internal and psychological that we've been calling "femininity" (because it corresponds generally to having the female body type). You have as much or as little of it as you have for whatever reason. With that understanding, reread the quote that begins this post.

Now, the question becomes: What does it mean to be extremely feminine?

And: What would it be like if those who are psychologically at the extreme of femininity were to feel supported and encouraged to openly and proudly manifest their femininity? Try to answer this question without confusing it with the efforts of those who don't actually have this inward orientation but who are aspiring to images and stereotypes about femininity out of social pressure or as a means of competition for other things they may want.

56 comments:

betamax3000 said...

Japanese School-Girls in Knee Socks Have This All Figured Out; Sparrow-Face.

rhhardin said...

Women like unresolved complexity and are bored by abstracting away and solving one thing at a time.

Men the oppposite.

Each finds their interest absorbing.

Which is why a qualified woman in math winds up on the women's workplace issues committee. It's more interesting.

Sorun said...

I replaced every "feminine" and "woman" in that post with "masculine" and "man." It's kinda funny.

rhhardin said...

Get Smart (2008) I read as 99 the grimly compartmentalizing feminist coming to admire the rookie male facility in compartmentalizing and jumping around, and going with unresolved complexity instead.

Ann Althouse said...

"Japanese School-Girls in Knee Socks Have This All Figured Out; Sparrow-Face."

Well, I thought about them, but they are doing theater and playing a role, and attempting to appeal to others, aren't they? Maybe some are and some are not.

Let's assume it is a true expression of a psychological orientation. Is it at the extreme of femininity? Maybe not. To be childlike may not be the height of femininity.

Obviously, also "femininity" is just an abstract category that could contain elements that ought to be disaggregated.

I'm sure some people will say it's a category that shouldn't be used at all, because it's stereotyping and oppressive, but that's part of my point — that there is an orientation that some individuals have that is discouraged and disparaged.

YoungHegelian said...

The website sure reads as if it's New-Agey Crack bait. "Femininine energies", "masculine energies". It also needs an editor desperately.

Notice her photo in the corner with her baby. Proof positive she got her man & her baby. Mission accomplished.

Can't it just be boiled down to: "Look as nice as you can in public, stop being a whiny bitch, and try very hard to be nice to other people"?

That strikes me as good advice for both sexes, by the way.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I know that the most extremely male-looking faces are experienced as ugly, but what about the most extremely feminine faces? I wasn't even sure what that would be. A very small, pointed chin? A tiny, tiny nose and gigantic eyes? I really don't even know.

You're on the right track there, I think. At least, anime and manga artists would seem to agree with you.

In the West, there are the same things, but also others. Prominent high cheekbones also seem to figure. Full lips. Elaborately thin and tapered eyebrows.

But the huge eyes part seems to be a key. Look at how much of the cosmetics industry is bent on making women's eyes look bigger than they are.

Ann Althouse said...

"I replaced every "feminine" and "woman" in that post with "masculine" and "man." It's kinda funny."

If it's funny, is it because extreme masculinity is regarded in such a negative light that you're saying it shouldn't be encouraged?

I thought of that topic too, by the way, and I would like to discuss it too, but I didn't want to overcomplicate the post.

I think that masculinity and femininity are abstract terms that represent a psychological orientation that could be beneficially discussed and we could all think about what we are on the inside.

I really don't think it's funny to say "What would it be like if those who are psychologically at the extreme of masculinity were to feel supported and encouraged to openly and proudly manifest their masculinity? "

Is it masculine to find that funny?

I know I sound like the punchline to the light bulb joke.

Anne Cacioppo said...

When I tried to picture the most feminine face I could thing of, the first one that came to mind was Audrey Hepburn. Wonder why...

YoungHegelian said...

When I tried to picture the most feminine face I could thing of, the first one that came to mind was Audrey Hepburn.

That strange noise you hear over the horizon is the sound of every straight man in the forum screaming & running away from the keyboard at the same time.

Ann Althouse said...

I think at the true extreme the feminine face would not be attractive.

chuckR said...

Software that averages faces produces some strikingly beautiful composite women. Supposedly we are hardwired to find symmetry of features attractive. However, the results have no outward signs of individuality - like old fashioned china doll heads. I've seen a few of these efforts - none were male composites.
Svante Paabo has done genetic analysis indicating that the average northern European descendant is about as much Neanderthal as Elizabeth Warren claims to be Cherokee. The former has science behind it, the latter politics. Paabo remarked that when his research became public, he received a lot of communication from women volunteering their husbands as prime examples for the study; far fewer husbands reciprocated. Given common opinion about Neanderthals looks, maybe this ties in with extreme masculinity being considered ugly and the lack of male composite face studies......

Inga said...

To be at the extreme end of femininity? That's really going to be difficult to describe without sounding as if one is judging negative traits, which aren't negative at all if they truly represent what feels natural to the woman in question.

To me a woman on the extreme end of femininity would probably be a SAHM, homeschools, has many children, breast fed every last one joyfully and for as long as it took to get pregnant again, bakes homemade bread, sews all her children's clothing, makes sure she has makeup on everyday, greets her husband at the door with a babe at the breast and a warm embrace for the breadwinner. After the kids are in bed she becomes the vixen to her fox. Her husband is the head of the household and she loves her role as "helpmeet". It's as natural to her as breathing.

Now, I'm not saying this is an ideal for feminine women. I'm not even sure it's truly representative of an ultra feminine woman. It may actually be a caricature to some women.

I don't really know what a woman on the far end of femininity would look like or act like, actually. My three daughters loved dolls, I didn't have to encourage them, ever. They couldn't wait to wear makeup and picked colors and styles that were considered feminine. They liked the admiration of males, and all three married. One is a SAHM, one is a professional, one is in the military, all three are very feminine in appearance.

Ah, who knows?

Inga said...

Now for the face. Heart shaped, huge eyes, long lashes, tapered eyebrows, tiny nose, pink cheeks, tiny bow shaped mouth which is soft red and full.

I imagine these to the extreme and I see a Barbie doll.

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inga said...

I also think of those silly women who revel in their "feminine power", the Priestess syndrome. Celebrate their monthly periods with rituals or some such mumbo jumbo.


Ann Althouse said...

"Full lips"

"tiny bow shaped mouth"

Conflicting opinion.

Inga said...

Althouse, couldn't the mouth be small, meaning not wide, yet full, plump lips?

Inga said...

As if the mouth was perpetually pursed?

rhhardin said...

Zuleika was not strictly beautiful. Her eyes were a trifle large, and their lashes longer than they need have been. An anarchy of small curls were her chevelure, a dark upland of misrule, every hair asserting its rights over a not discreditable brow. For the rest, her features were not at all original. They seemed to have been derived rather from a gallimaufry of familiar models. From Madame la Marquise de Saint-Ouen came the shapely tilt of the nose. The mouth was a mere replica of Cupid's bow, lacquered scarlet and strung with the littlest pearls. No apple tree, no wall of peaches, had not been robbed, nor any Tyrian rose-garden, for the glory of Miss Dobson's cheeks. Her neck was imitation-marble. Her hands and feet were of very mean proportions. She had no waist to speak of.

Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm

Alex said...

I think the most feminine woman of the 1950s was Sophia Loren.

Alex said...

Anne HATE-away is not what I'd consider "tappable". Stay far away gents if you want to keep your balls.

William said...

I think Angela Merkel is attractive. I wouldn't especially want to have sex with her,but she has a comfortable face and a pleasant way about her. I think she'd be more fun to hang out with than many plastic surgeon victims in Hollywood. It is imprtant and useful for a woman to radiate sex appeal at a certain stage of her life, but at other stages there are qualities that trump sex appeal and beauty.

Terry said...

I think big eyes are a part of it. Kristen Bell is an actress with small eyes: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0068338/
She manages to be feminine and pretty despite her small eyes, not because of them.

Alex said...

I'd go chop logs with Angela Merkel, than go to a German beerhall and drink lottsa lagers.

Ron said...

I'm thinking....Dita von Teese. Feminine in extremis...face, figure... the whole package.

But she's a classic car nerd ( a feminine car nerd! ) so there's that!

Anne Cacioppo said...

Well exactly was is feminine then? Sexual? Motherly? Dainty?

A lioness in the bedroom, a bear with her children, and a dik dik in public?

rhhardin said...

You can't have feminine without men.

The term can't stand on its own.

rhhardin said...

There's a Get Smart original series show where Max compliments 99 on her cologne, "It's very feminine."

99 : "I'm not wearing any cologne, Max."

Both look at the chief.

mtrobertsattorney said...

An equally interesting question: "is there an orientation that some individuals have that is" envied and then "discouraged and disparaged"?

Paul Zrimsek said...

There is nothing like a dame. Nothing in the world.
There is nothing you can name that is anything like a dame.
There are no drinks like a dame.
And nothing thinks like a dame.
There are no books like a dame.
And nothing looks like a dame.
And nothing acts like a dame.
Or attracts like a dame. There ain't a thing that's wrong with any man here that can't be cured by putting him near
a girly female womanly feminine dame.

Inga said...

"You can't have feminine without men.

The term can't stand on its own."

10/26/13, 1:54 PM

Why would that be? Do people have no identity unless that image is transposed in an opposite? So it would hold true that you can't have masculine without women? It can't stand on its own?

rhhardin said...

Well, suppose feminine names what goes with showing your man that you're satisfied with him.

A cluster of traits that style has it indicates that.

No men, no clustering.

There's no interest in such a word.

Inga said...

Does a tree make a sound in the forest when it falls if no one is there to hear it?

Yes it does.

Also rh, have you ever owned a male dog? If no, why? Why do you prefer females? Do they worship you, wag their tails when you walk in the door?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

The ewig-Weibliche lives on here.

rhhardin said...

The tree moves the air but doesn't make a sound, if there's nobody to hear it.

Inga said...

Rh, you didn't answer my question, can you have masculine without women? Will it stand on it's own?

rhhardin said...

You can have strong without women, but not masculine.

Inga said...

Thank you rh. I think that you may be wrong however. I wonder, do men living without a female presence in their home feel less masculine?

clint said...

Would this suggest that very feminine women who are still depressed have a need to express their hidden masculine side?

rhhardin said...

The category doesn't come up.

wildswan said...

It would be feminine to be spiteful and catty about good-looking, well dressed women and wish they were somewhere else, preferably somewhere isolated, smelly and dirty; it would be masculine to find them attractive and be glad they were around.
It would be masculine to get a good-looking well-dressed guy into a game of football and break his nose; it would be feminine to find such a man attractive and be glad he was around.
So you see men and women have a lot in common

The Godfather said...

The reason that it's funny to reverse the genders in this article (this discussion was WAY up thread) is that you cannot imagine a "Man's Magazine" publishing an article about why a man who is "masculine to the core" will be unhappy if he doesn't "let his masculinity surface".

That's not to say that men don't have insecurities, but they are different insecurities than the ones discussed in the article, and they are talked about (if at all) in a different vocabulary. I suspect that most men really don't understand what this article is talking about, because it's so foreign.

Inga said...

I don't understand what the heck she's talking about in the article either. Something about, how to get a man, how to keep a man, blah,blah, gobbeldy gook, blah, goddess, blah, zzzzzz......

Unknown said...

Maybe it's because I'm a pre-boomer who finished college before the crazies took over, but I truly have no idea what's being discussed. Most of the words, as used, seem to have zero informational content. On the other hand, as a member of the VRWC, I can understand everything Paglia writes, not agree in all, but understand.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "If you are truly a feminine woman at your core..."

This Can Be Properly Determined By a Licensed Core Inspector.

Freeman Hunt said...

I can't understand the article either, but I think that's the point. It's in the "Subscribe to My Premium Newletter or Buy My eBook of Secrets" genre. You're supposed to think that the real info will come by paying.

Illuninati said...

Personally, I think femininity is a natural trait which will emerge if it is not repressed. The take away message I get from her article is that women should be proud of who they are and not allow themselves to be pressured to compete with men just to prove they can.

Conserve Liberty said...

My idea of feminine is just that - mine - and it doesn't square with current western Playboy images. Physically, I am attracted to tall, slender, strong women. I don't care for the short, curvy, frail type. My kind can do things. They look good in Vasque boots and polar fleece, and I don't need to bend over to kiss them.

I consider femininity to be a quality of ladies, as opposed to women; a characteristic, not an attribute. Feminine is as feminine does.

@Illuminati:

Women should just be happy to be who they are.

Men should just be happy to be who they are.

We'd all be happier.

Ann Althouse said...

"I can't understand the article either, but I think that's the point. It's in the "Subscribe to My Premium Newletter or Buy My eBook of Secrets" genre. You're supposed to think that the real info will come by paying."

Analogous to: Marry me to have sex with me.

betamax3000 said...

I Have Smeared My Face with Cream Cheese and Bright Red LipStick; I Have Smooshed Strawberries in My Hair. I Kiss You: I Kiss You All.

Naut Right said...

The way you wrote your post I felt was a quest to see how people fit which leads into wondering how people can fit the sterotype, if it can be defined.
Rahter, just drop it and let people BE. Femininity, if it is hard wired, will express itself probably in as many shades as there are women. So who are we to pick the perfect shade of femininity? Is my choice more valid vecause I am a man of some years who has seen more examples. Or are you for the same reason, but a woman who has biological experience.
It comes down to navel gazing. It has a too diffused set of criteria and judges.

Phil 3:14 said...

analogous to: marry me to have sex with me

No, its not.

Unknown said...

Its funny scrollling through this thread. Just observing that Inga is having some sort of meltdown on this subject.

Unknown said...

Also having a hard time with someone objecting to Audrey Hepburn as a example for discussion..

http://blogdachickitabakana.blogspot.com/2011/05/celebremos-audrey-hepburn-e-grace-kelly.html

Were you confusing her with Katherine Hepburn?

http://www.listal.com/viewimage/837479

Inga said...

Meltdown? That's a strange way of putting it. I thought I was musing quite calmly as a matter of fact, lol.