Thursday, 10 June 2010

The myth of Femininity

Masculinity and Femininity. Words that evoke images of rugged, warrior men and delicate, pretty ladies. It has been assumed that masculinity, with its associated virtues such as active, energetic, strength, decisiveness, assertiveness and leadership, applies only to males, and that femininity, associated with gentleness, meekness, being submissive, pleasing and being frivoulous and nurturing, applies only to those who are born female.

This was true in the distant past, in a less civilised world, where men ruled and fought other men and women left them to get on with it whilst they concentrated on the less glamourous job of keeping home and raising children. Men ruled and reserved privileges for themselves, most notably, the control of females. Women and girls were kept "in their place" by being made to look attractive by means of dress, jewellery and cosmetics and were conditioned to be submissive and pleasing to males as their protectors and providers.

However, throughout history, there have been examples of famous men and women who have by default of personality or by deliberate actions have subverted the "norm". Take Adam and Eve for example. Adam was happy to stay in paradise, ignorant but happy, but Eve was curious and proactive and exercised leadership over Adam. They got thrown out of paradise but curiously, it was Eve who was the active, masculine vessel and Adam who was the passive, feminine vessel. And they were, according to the bible, the first man and woman!

History is replete with other examples, Joan of Arc being the most obvious example of a masculine woman and Henri III of France, a King who regularly dressed in female dress of the period (16th century) and who was essentially feminine in nature. There is also plenty of evidence of women running businesses and farms and even ruling kingdoms whilst married to less able, passive men.

Males and females were also dressed differently. Men wore practical, sober clothes to reflect their masculinity, whilst women wore frivilous, frilly clothes, impractical and designed to make them an ornament rather than of practical use. But it was not clothing that determined a person's masculinity or femininity but their personality and males can be feminine and women masculine.

But, over the course of the twentieth century, females became liberated and had the same opportunites as men to succeed, but the world was still very much a man's world and to survive in it and succeed, women had to become more masculine and some masculine women were well placed to thrive in such an environment.

Women were abandoning the femininity imposed on them and the benefits quickly became obvious. They outperformed boys at school and university and from there became successful in business and the professions and other walks of life. The early 21st century will, in retrospect, be called the Age of Women, as women gradually take over all of the positions of power and wealth through ability.

The 21st century will also be noted for the decline of the male in society. Males are falling behind females in the education system and in the workplace. As women become Executives and Doctors and Lawyers, men will become secretaries, nurses and housemakers, as these will be the only roles that they will be qualified to fill.

The successful woman will adopt masculine qualities as these are the qualities of achievement and will propel women towards supremacy. Males, by comparison, in subordinate roles to women, will adopt feminine traits such as submissiveness, eagerness to be pleasing and docility, even if that male is by nature "masculine", in order to survive in what is fast becoming a woman's world.

We are seeing a complete reversal of the traditional gender roles with the female becoming the protector and provider and the male becoming the dependent homemaker and childraiser, rather than equality between the sexes.

Women are gradually discarding their traditional feminine clothing and accessories. Many more women are being seen in a pant suit rather than a skirt or dress and do not wear high heels or make up. Males fashions, by comparison, are becoming more feminine, with male make up, hair remover and man bags being promoted. I foresee that soon, dresses and skirts designed for men will soon be in vogue to reflect the new status of males.

Perhaps, some years hence, if the trends for female supremacy and male decline are anything to go by, females will be more masculine than any male and will wear trousers, while the male, forced by circumstances or inclination to be feminine, will start wearing dresses and skirts and other accessories, with the aim of being more pleasing to their superior protector and provider: woman


  1. Simplistic. As if the only changes that will occur will be a role reversal. Besides misperceiving the so called "decline of the male", this article views gender roles as static and binary; in other words, it views gender through 19th century lens. Side note, one of the reasons males fail at public school is because they're conditioned to be more anti-authoritarian than girls – therefore implying that the success females are achieving is due more to their greater ability to comply than their ability to be professional.