The Question of Femininity

Other | Sunday 26th February 2017 | Charlotte Layton

In the 21st centuary, gender roles have become somewhat of a myth. Yet, why is it then more acceptable for women to be more masculine, compared to the distate for men who decide to embrace their feminine attributes? 

What is femininity? In the mid 60’s, femininity was defined as a woman’s ability to listen to men, and as quoted by some of the most popular actresses at the time: “men love it”.

Being feminine was to be meticulous in your clothing and make-up, being clean, fresh and generally being nice… all of the time.  Being feminine in the 60s, there was no time to slack in appearances and being pretty was the ultimate asset, and probably the only asset that defined your femininity. And femininity was none other than a “female thing”. 

Yet, times have changed. Not so much in terms of what femininity actually looks like – the basic rules still apply. Excessive make-up and hair extensions.

Yet, femininity in what it actually means, has changed – if it ever had a proper definition. Although, women’s aspirations are a lot higher than looking good for men and listening to their endless gibber jabber about sports and work – thank Christ!  Although, now being feminine isn’t a gender specific at all. 

It is common now, to see male vloggers showing how to contour, while clothing, facials, pedicures and manicures are all becoming unisex.

While more straight men are going into the fashion industry itself and spending far more on clothing than women. Though fashion is particularly considered a gay – man industry, a variety of men are going into other careers considered just as feminine like nursing and the arts. It is becoming more common for men to be stay-at-home father’s while the women go out to work too. 

While men are still stereotypically shown with hard-core masculinity, strong and insensitive to anything that stands before him. As a collective, we know none of this represents real life. We know that men aren’t an insensitive creature out of the depths of the deep blue sea. We also know that women aren’t blond, giggling air-heads. Though, how we see femininity and masculinity is somewhat obscured. 

Although, for a woman, not being exactly feminine is seen as normal and pretty much accepted in society. Though it is normal for a same sex relationships and sexuality, it is less accepted for men, whether gay or straight, to be somewhat effeminate.

More often or not, if a man is slightly feminine, or enjoys the comfort of female clothing, he is automatically considered gay. Through the 1950’s and 60’s there was a saying “a man can be too clean” meaning that a man who was articulate, clean or a little effeminate, would have been gay. Although this isn’t the case at all, the same mentally is to some extent is still there. 

A man who’s well-groomed or wearing revealing clothing or women's clothing, are still considered gay.

And even being a gay male is less accepted than being a lesbian, even if it is an unsaid acceptance or unacceptance. Though the gender roles have been crossed, and much of the distaste is kept quiet, it is still there. Still there simmering on the back burner of societies mind. Though the question remains… why?