If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?

Ten questions on femininity.
1. How do you describe femininity?
2. What makes a woman feminine?
3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?
4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?
5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)
6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?
7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine? So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine? What other traits would you describe as feminine?
8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?
10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?

87 thoughts on “If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?

      • describe what ?
        I dont know why bother about such tags ?

        I am what I am… its upto you to now decide if you think I am feminine or masculine ?!😉

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        • What I think of others doesnt matter na ?

          I try best not to judge anyone and accept people on the face of it🙂 There are all sorts in this world ! Tags/generalisations are unfair and should be avoided I think !

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        • IHM, do you know our Hitchybhai is running for MLAship in Bharuch constituency?😆 He is talking like a true politician..diplomatic answers, et al- na idhar na udhar stay neutral😀😛.

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        • Think Again Deepti aunty ! (if you keep calling me bhai that is what i will revert with)

          Being Neutral is actually cool🙂

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  1. Feminine should not mean girly, just like masculine should not mean macho. These are just ways to make sure that all men and women conform to what is the socially accepted standard. Being girly is meant to get a girl only one thing – the supposedly biggest prize – a man. Being girly means a girl can’t play sports, can’t love maths, can’t love sci-fi, can’t do so many things she may want to. Being macho means a man can’t cuddle his baby, can’t show his love to his wife, can’t cry if he is upset. Basically to hell with what you actually are and what you actually want. How can that be good for anyone?
    I’m not saying being girly is bad – if that’s who you really are then good for you. But behaving in a ‘feminine’ way is mostly forced on little girls from a very young age. Be it the fear of getting tanned or ‘gasp’ the hymen breaking – most girls aren’t allowed to be physically active. In the same way a little boy playing with dolls is frowned upon. It’s all so stupid actually, but sadly that’s the way most people are.
    I don’t think of myself as a girly girl. I am an engineer, I was very good at maths, I played badminton till I was in college, I use no make-up on a daily basis, I love sci-fi and fantasy and have not read a romance novel since my teens, I mostly end up cringing at what is portrayed in most chick-flicks, I am one of the most logical people I know😛, I rarely wear heels. But at the same time I would love to take out time to put on a little make-up everyday, to dress-up for work, wear heels, I wish I still had time to play badminton. So I guess it’s all mixed up, like it would for most people if they were allowed to choose for themselves.

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  2. I was waiting to see what others would say, but here goes mine:

    1. How do you describe femininity?

    A socially and culturally defined set of norms that define how a biological woman should construct herself. (I’m sure there is a proper dictionary and sociological definition. This is just what came to my mind).

    2. What makes a woman feminine?

    Just off the top of my head – long hair, wearing certain colours, make-up that accentuated certain facial features, high heels, dresses or clothes cut a certain way, certain gestures, interest in certain hobbies.

    3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?

    Important to who? To Society, very important because fluid gender norms are scary. To me, not very.

    4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?

    See 2.

    5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)

    Nobody is born with femininity. Ones sex at birth is a biological fact; gender is a social construct. How much effort would be reasonable? As much as you like, I suppose.

    6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?

    To some extent conforming is always easier. It doesn’t give you unlimited choices but it does almost guarantee some choices.

    7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine?
    Yes.
    So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine?
    Also yes.

    What other traits would you describe as feminine?
    Being giggly, demure, defenseless, motherly, nurturing, gentle…

    8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
    Mostly, noone is given a reason. The process of becoming a woman starts almost as soon as one is born when they wrap you in a pink blanket instead of blue. If a reason is given later on for not being too masculine, it would ‘the boys won’t like you’.

    9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?

    I do consider myself feminine. It’s not important to me but I like aspects of being feminine now. Like dressing up a certain way. Certain ways of being have been fostered in me since birth, so whether I like them naturally or through conditioning, I can’t say. But I like certain aspects of the feminine. And I have rejected certain aspects – like being the cook, the nurturing one, the dumb one, the defenseless one. I think I’ve only kept the frills of femininity.

    10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?

    It’s harder for them. It’s always hard to buck a trend. Especially in a conservative society.

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  3. Do not constrain myself by any labels like feminine or unfeminine.

    Do what I feel comfortable doing – which could foray into either category. Hardly matters to me what others do, as long as they are happy with whatever they are doing AND it does not impact me or others around them.

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    • But n what kind of characteristics would you describe as ‘feminine’? Adjectives.
      Like which of these for instance, would you say can be described as ‘feminine’?
      Shy, polite helpful, kind, compassionate, fearful, vivacious, gregarious, mysterious, open, carefree, bold, timid, meek, sacrificing, cranky, irritable, dependent, tolerant, modest, courageous, graceful, demure, alluring, sneaky, scheming…

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      • Trying hard but am unable to lock any of them into a category. Because if I take the closest males around me – my dad and my husband, I can describe them using some of the adjectives above. I can describe my mom and me with the antonyms of those adjectives.

        For example, my husband is far more compassionate as a person than I am, and the same can be said of my dad. I and my mom are certainly bigger risk-takers than our husbands. One thing you cannot ever call me is meek or timid (unless my child is ill – then I am terrified, but in exactly those circumstances my mom will remain cool as will my dad). I won’t go on and bore you more, but the point is that each person is made up many different things, in fact many seemingly incompatible traits too, which might even vary at different times of life an din different circumstances.

        In a nutshell, we are far more complex than just beings who can be described by a bunch of arbitrary adjectives. Okay you might want to describe me as ‘she who can never answer to the point’🙂
        (Thanks for some serious food for thought, as always)

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        • “that each person is made up many different things, in fact many seemingly incompatible traits too, which might even vary at different times of life an din different circumstances.” Totally agree. I often visualize people as Venn diagrams, where those various intersecting circles representing interests/traits etc. shift with time. I think we may have moments of what the world calls feminine and moments of what the world calls unfeminine. We are just humans in the end capable of all these traits. No?

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  4. i dont know what to write.. but it reminds me about a discussion we used to have during my school days. i dont even know why we had such a discussion, but i wanted to put it across.

    A( 8th std kid): i will not send my girl child to karate class and boy to dance( classical form) class.
    B: why? whats wrong in learning art forms?
    A: no, boy will develop this feminine qualities and when he performs any action it would depict a classic style and he would look like a girl( will all grace).
    B: so you means girl will develop rough and touch nature??.
    A: yes yes.. and he quotes few dances and sports personalities as examples.

    in fact i remember my mother asking my cousin not to dress up her son in girls attire and dress. as the kid might develop this girly nature in future and have this special interest to wear them in later stage of life. i dont know how true it is.

    i think what Bride says “Nobody is born with femininity. Ones sex at birth is a biological fact; gender is a social construct. How much effort would be reasonable? As much as you like, I suppose. “.
    it is we only cultivate it in ours kids. say by giving certain kind of toys and dressing them up. say by using all fancy clips of girls and getting them nice pink forks etc etc..

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  5. This is really interesting.. Let me try and answer this..
    1. How do you describe femininity?
    Qualities in a woman like gentleness, patience, shyness and sophistication. I prefer not to talk about physical features because that’s usually not within one’s control.

    2. What makes a woman feminine?
    Having these qualities make a woman appear feminine, but what goes on in the mind could be completely different.

    3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?
    It depends on who is judging it. Different societies may frown upon a woman who doesn’t conform to the general feminine expectations, but it doesn’t reduce her worth as a person IMO if she is not as feminine as is expected.

    4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?
    Fulfill the traditional role of a nurturer, be the one that a man can lean on and avoid brashness of any form.

    5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)
    Not all women are born with femininity, some are just naturally more so than others. To put in effort seems unreasonable to me because I’m more of a ‘tomboy’ and find putting on a show of femininity uncomfortable. Some women balance both femininity and boldness equally but not all can.

    6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?
    It probably makes them happier if people like them more because of it. Whether it produces more choices depends on the society they live in.

    7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine? So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine? What other traits would you describe as feminine?
    I know enough guys who are hard to figure out so I don’t think that is entirely a woman’s trait. It’s just the general difficulty that the sexes have with trying to figure out what makes the other one tick. Being rational, straight forward and honest is pretty unfeminine unless you can cover it up with a veneer of politeness maybe. Too much effort IMO!
    Another feminine trait could be a soft spoken one.

    8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
    Probably that it would attract more men! And also that it will bring less disapproving glances from society.

    9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?
    I’d say I’m in between, but that’s because in my life I have never found any benefit from acting feminine. I say ‘acting’ because it’s not natural to me. Nor did my parents raise me to ‘act like a girl’ (insert condescending voice) so I don’t think that way either. I don’t think it’s important to me at all.

    10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?
    Me for one, and others who I know, I find that they are leading happy lives the way they are. Even the ones who I felt were the really feminine, shy and gentle ones turn out to have more spunk than I previously thought. Overall what I have observed that a lack of natural femininity doesn’t make anyone’s life better than others. Not all the ones without femininity are assertive about themselves and vice versa. So after ten questions I’m still confused about whether femininity really has any bearing on the lives of people close to me!😀

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  6. Scientifically speaking a female should be able to conceive and give birth to young ones and breast feed them. So a female should have the basic equipment to do that. Even those ppl who have defects preventing it will have the basic anatomy for that. So that is feminity. -:)

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  7. Hi IHM,

    Haven’t really thought that much about femininity and what it is ti me… but here’s what come to mind..

    1. How do you describe femininity?
    – I don’t know. Femininity is a quality that feminine women have. Please see below for pt no 2.

    2. What makes a woman feminine?
    – Feminine is usually associated with grace, poise, long hair, perfect figure, prefect nails,long legs, big eyes, not a hair out of place , clothes never shabby, always perfectly made up. Someone who gives the impression of never laughing loudly and snorting , never sweating, never burping (and no other disgusting bodily functions, either, even when she is sick),

    In a relationship, perhaps she has to be the quiet , understanding one. The one who cooks cleans up , and keeps a perfect house, ensuring that the curtains are ironed and all. The one who throws demurely sips her orange juice , when she goes to late night parties with the husband.

    I could go on and on… but you get the idea..

    3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?
    – Not important at all, it is important for her to be herself.

    4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?
    – All of the things in Pt no 2, and more.

    5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)
    – any amount as long as that’s what she wants to do and it makes her happy.

    6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?
    – No I feel; it takes away choices. They may always feel pressured to “be” a certain way, and a certain way only.
    I have a friend , who is married to a guy who would like her to be more feminine . So she has had to make a whole lot of effort to lose weight, grow her nails, and even “not open her mouth too wide when she laughs”.

    7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine? So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine? What other traits would you describe as feminine?
    – Yes and Yes.

    8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
    – Eventually all the reasons given, both in the East and West boil down to : Getting that “perfect” man.
    Because what man would like to be with actual human being , who can think, laugh, make decisions, make a mess, get sick, get dirty etc, when he can be with this “feminine goddess”.

    9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?
    – Not at all. I don’t wear heels, or have perfect nails. I am clumsy, and always tripping over stuff.
    I like the outdoors too much, to be able to avoid getting sweaty. I like my independence and freedom too much.

    10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?
    – I am not feminine, and I get along just fine. But this is mostly because of my ability to not care about what people (even my own parents) think/say about it.

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    • //- Eventually all the reasons given, both in the East and West boil down to : Getting that “perfect” man.
      Because what man would like to be with actual human being , who can think, laugh, make decisions, make a mess, get sick, get dirty etc, when he can be with this “feminine goddess”.//

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  8. I am a woman, I love shopping( especially for my daughter😀 ), but I dont like cooking nor can I stitch or knit. I love wearing ethnic Indian outfits and I am equally comfortable wearing jeans and top, sarees not so much, I reserve them for special occasions. I like to put kajal, lip-stick and mascara to do up my face but I am not at all into jewellery- gold and diamonds a definite no-no! I can almost all my aunties gasping ‘hawww, she doesnt like gold or diamonds and yet she calls herself a woman! Tauba!”😀 I am shy, dont like talking much, but I can be quite vociferous when it concerns my child’s well-being or come across issues I feel strongly about. Oh and yes I walk very fast, a trait that I have been taunted for many a number of times as not being very ‘lady-like’. And yes I am a mother with a fair amount of mother’s guilt and oodles of love for my child throbbing in my heart.
    With all these qualities and despite them I do consider myself feminine. I dont know if I have the right definition but somehow it suits me fine🙂

    I do agree with what anna’s mom and Bride have said. Femininity has largely been defined to conform men and women to the socially accepted norms. A lot of how feminine/masculine a woman/man should look/feel has to do with the conditioning that we have been drilled into from birth. But over the years I can see a wave of change in attitude, slowly though. Femininity or masculinity has come to mean more about being comfortable with how one wishes to look or feel than moulding oneself to societal norms.

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  9. Good questions, IHM.

    I’ll take recourse to mythology to answer. Draupadi, the central female character of the Mahabharatha, is, IMO, a feminine ideal. She was a strong, emotional woman, who spoke her mind at most times. She was rare for her times in that, she did not buy into the Sati-Savitri image, and had her favourites among the five husbands foisted on her by the demands of obedience to a mother’s wish. She had a close male friend – Krishna – a ‘sakha’, which by definition means someone with whom one can share the deepest emotions and thoughts, on whom she could depend completely in any hour of need, more than what could be said of her husbands – yet there was nothing sexual between them. She was fierce in her wish for revenge- again a feminine trait. Just look at the animal kingdom, and it is the female of the species that is dealier, especially if she perceives a threat to her offspring.

    Also, I would look more to the animal kingdom for feminine traits of nurturing, affection and a fierce love.

    All these traits can be found even in males. If only our social conditioning of them will let us let them express them. For all babies start in the womb with a profusion of oestrogen- it is only around 8 weeks of gestation that the effect of testosterone begins to develop the male characteristics if the embryo carries a Y chromosome.

    Social gendering is at the root of much of the evil that happens in the name of gender. I myself have experienced much of it. Some confession time. At the risk of sounding disloyal to my parents, I’ll say that they did their bit in differentiating between me and my two younger brothers. I was never sent to school trips involving an overnight stay. It was not considered necessary to teach me essential skills like cycling, swimming, driving, etc. To date I cannot do any of these, and I’ve not been able to teach these to myself as an adult- I find myself in a panic if I try to. I had an arranged marriage, I was set against the whole kanyadaan route of a wedding, but had to give in to pressure from parents and in-laws. (This was almost 20 years ago- it was difficult then. I suppose things have changed a lot since.) I gave up my career to join my husband in a different place after marriage, and have not been able to get back into it, for patriachial reasons. I confine myself to expressing my thoughts online, as it gives me a certain anonymity; no-one except for a few close blogging friends know me personally. And frankly, for now, I prefer it like this- it is my comfort zone. At least I can express my real self. The conditioning is so deep.

    So that is feminity as it is experienced by even educated, urban, relatively priviledged women even today. I’m sure there are many who have thrown off these shackles, and more power to them. I shudder to think of those less priviledged.

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  10. I think feminine traits are behavior commonly exhibited by females. So we define what is feminine, not the other way around.

    And as far as considering what is feminine, who cares. I am an individual first, and I will do whatever comes naturally to be no matter which bucket it belongs to. No one is completely masculine or feminine in their traits and I dont think it is anything to be proud of one way or another.

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  11. When women are no longer pageant contestants (in hunt for a husband) all these things that you guys mention lose meaning. A woman on her own does not need to measure her level of feminine attributes. She can just be.

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    • Sadly, the impact of these gender divisions have made their way even into the workplace. Thus, a woman who challenges the dominant notions of femininity by being aggressive, loud, outspoken etc. is derided in a way that men with the same traits never are.

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      • Women who exhibit a lot of self-confidence at work (specially in a direct loud manner) usually are very successful in their jobs. Yes, they are labeled bi*ches, and yes, the co-workers (especially men) don’t get along with such women, and yes, they do not make “friends” in the office, but at the end of the day feminity or not – these women get what they want in their professional lives. I don’t think these women find it a problem – the surrounding definitely does.

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        • Yes, 100% agree. Besides, it is also possible to be firm but not in-your-face aggressive at some work places. Some people will respect you (even if you are a woman) for that, some will deride you. Some opportunists will weigh your strength and jump ship if they think that you are likely to win. This is the way it is in the personal front too sometimes.

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        • I agree that many of these women are successful – it’s another story that women have to turn into quazi-men to be successful, even the one’s that are not naturally so – but I do not agree that they don’t find it a problem.

          Being the object of backbiting is never pleasant, whether one manages to ignore it or not. Yes, every boss, male or female, gets bitched about to some extent by his/her underlings but successful, confident, aggressive women seem to get particular attention and I don’t think this is productive. That some women manage to rise above it and move on is another matter. Many other women may have found that it pulled them down in a big way. It takes more energy to motivate a team that doesn’t like you not just because you’re the boss but because they can’t handle you being a woman and the boss.

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        • @The Bride: (I hope this is the right place to put this comment) Yes, I do agree that it is dysfunctional when people have to turn aggressive — especially when they are not that way naturally. All I am saying is that, I don’t associate that sort of aggressiveness to men or to masculinity. I have seen women who are that aggressive as well — naturally– and not necessarily only in their work arena. Besides, although aggressive women will have a hard time at work place, non-aggressive women are not free from back biting either. (I am a non-aggressive woman and I am not willing to turn into that sort of aggressiveness. I have risen fairly well although not as much as I think I ought to have– based purely on my work). Those that are “feminine” are berated differently than those that are aggressive. I find both to be equally dysfunctional behavior. All told, I find that whatever personality trait a person has, men and actually even some women, find it easier to accept a man at the head of things rather than a woman. In my own profession I find men willing to elevate another man to super man status before they will condescend to admitting that a woman is really, really, good. Women still have to work a LOT harder, prove a LOT more for the same promotions that a man with comparative skills and work output gets far more easily.

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        • @Agnija Bharathi Ooops my comment was in response to EM not you. I should have said that.

          “All told, I find that whatever personality trait a person has, men and actually even some women, find it easier to accept a man at the head of things rather than a woman.”

          Agree and that’s kind of what I was trying to say. Being the boss outside the home is not seen as a feminine trait. It jars with people because they are not used to it. It is worse if the woman, on top of being boss, is also aggressive (a double flouting on gender norms) that is apparently too much for many to handle but as you pointed out, just rising to the top and being a woman is a rebellion in some ways.

          Largely, what I was trying to say in contrast to what EM said, is simply that these rules on femininity do impact women’s lives beyond the whole marriage market saga. Yes, the backbiting may be a small thing that one could brush off but the many small things do add up.

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  12. Ten questions on femininity.
    1. How do you describe femininity?
    A particular set of attributes or qualities that a person born with female anatomy is supposed to develop or identify with.

    2. What makes a woman feminine?
    Being feminine is traditionally associated with soft skin, good figure, soft features, good head of hair, poise and grace in talking, walking, eating, etc etc etc. being demure, staying in the background, and above all to some extent being dependent on the male.

    3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?
    Very important in a society which considers the only goal for a woman is marriage. Society considers women like “kajal character from hum paanch” to be deviants.

    4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?
    The very first thing would be to dress in a way that is considered feminine in that particular day and age.

    5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)
    Even a tiny bit of effort is unreasonable if it is forced and comes at the cost of sacrificing personal style and comfort.

    6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?
    I don’t know about more choices or if it makes their lives happier, but it may make their lives easier sometimes.

    7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine? So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine? What other traits would you describe as feminine?
    In most societies a woman was considered a mere utilitarian object to be used for sex, child bearing and rearing and in charge of housework. No one even thought to understand her or know her. So difficult to understand or complex does not apply IMO. Being rational or detachment of emotions is considered unfeminine, being straight forward may be mistaken as being assertive or worse aggressive both qualities attributed towards the male gender.

    8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
    What else, to get married.

    9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you?
    Why?
    Although I love stuff that is considered girly, I have never considered myself feminine, mainly because I associate that word with dependency on a male.

    10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?
    It is hard for the parents of a girl who is considered unfeminine to find a match for her. This is mostly compensated by offering additional dowry or money.

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    • //5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)
      Even a tiny bit of effort is unreasonable if it is forced and comes at the cost of sacrificing personal style and comfort.

      8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
      What else, to get married.//

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  13. What society, on average, perceives as feminine traits:

    Submissive
    Dependent
    Unintelligent and Incapable
    Emotional
    Receptive
    Intuitive
    Weak
    Timid
    Content
    Passive
    Cooperative
    Sensitive
    Sex object
    Soft
    Financially dependent
    Long hair
    Fair skin
    Minimum body and facial hair

    Most of these traits are negative – restrictive and discriminatory…

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  14. 1. How do you describe femininity?

    Socially constructed norms of behaviour, dress, appearance and interests which are associated with women and girls.
    2. What makes a woman feminine?

    Behaviour – Not talking too much, being shy, meek, submissive, giggly, air headed, walking, talking and sitting in a certain manner, demure, (and even being bitchy, scheming, complicated and cunning) So clearly, even the ‘feminine’ traits are often in contradiction to each other.

    Dress and Appearance – Takes an interest in her appearance, pretty clothes, make up, heels, long hair, etc.

    Interests – Reading, cooking, sewing, drawing, dance and music are all seen as typically feminine interests. Some of them are more feminine than the others, such as cooking and sewing/knitting.

    3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?

    For society in general, very important.

    4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?

    See 2. Also, women are expected to ‘give more’ of themselves into relationships. Being adjusting, caring, nurturing, are also feminine.

    5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)

    I don’t think any man or woman should have to put effort into complying with a certain blueprint. They should be free to choose their own interests and follow their desires. There are some universal human traits which are desirable in everyone – maintaining hygiene, being a good person (even if expressed differently), etc.

    6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?

    It certainly does give them societal acceptance, and increases their desirability to men. Being ‘unfeminine’ is liable to give one a lot of trouble, heartache and resentment.

    7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine?
    yes

    So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine?

    Usually. Although women are generally perceived to be more honest and trustworthy.

    What other traits would you describe as feminine?

    Dieting? (rolls eyes) It is so frustrating, when I just don’t feel like eating everybody automatically assumes I must be on a diet!

    8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?

    Men will like you. That’s how women are supposed to be. This is the ‘natural’ way.

    9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?

    In some ways I am. With outward appearances, I probably do it more to fit in with a certain standard – long hair, take care of my skin, and (sometimes) clothing.

    But with my actual personality traits, I have some ‘feminine’ interests and traits, some ‘masculine’. It is not important to me which category they fall into; I do what is comfortable for me. I have often been told that I walk and talk like a guy, and I don’t care.

    10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?

    Most of my friends have often expressed hurt feelings and resentment… for not being ‘pretty enough’, or ‘thin enough’. My personality traits have usually resulted in most guys running away from me.😛 I spent my teen years quite angry about all of these things, but now am starting to accept myself the way I am.

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    • Oh, and I forgot. Women ‘don’t like sex’. One of the biggest and most incorrect stereotype, especially in India!

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      • and the idea that women have no sexual desire at all and that they will be asexual till marriage and do it for their husband’s sake.
        Also that all women love children/having kids

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  15. As a individual to me it does not matter if its a man or a woman i am talking to , I treat them the same .. THE PROBLEM is when inspite of being wanted to be treated the same as equals some men and some women have problems .. for then they suddenly realise oh they cant get away with it ..

    Why do people go on and on about equals and this and that and STILL want to know what is feminism or are they this or that .. WHY does it matter .

    if one treats the other as a human being and or treats them as they themself want to be treated then the need to classify everything will not be there … .

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    • “HE PROBLEM is when inspite of being wanted to be treated the same as equals some men and some women have problems .. for then they suddenly realise oh they cant get away with it ..”

      Can you give some examples? Do you mean women who still want men to foot the bill and hold open doors? If so, those women are in the wrong and can be ignored or given a talking-to. I think it’s hard letting go of the pennywise-pound foolish approach when for so long all the society gave you were crumbs (such as the courtesy of being treated like a lady) that you’re hardpressed to give them up because you can’t fully envisage the greater freedom at stake.

      “As a individual to me it does not matter if its a man or a woman i am talking to , I treat them the same .. ” The problem is that while men and women are largely the same, there are some biological differences. For example, for many women, during the first day of their period, the pain is really bad. It would nice to have a seat on the way back from work.

      There are also the differences that arise out of a society that is still unequal, although individual men like you are trying to be fair. Women would love to not have a special compartment in trains, but sadly the situation in most parts of India doesn’t allow for that. So till men in India learn to behave, this is the interim solution.

      As for feminism, it is still relevant because we still live in an unequal world where women as a specific group are discriminated against and it makes sense to pool our resources to work towards a better deal. This poster might interst you:

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    • I would say it is more the fact that we are different and the fact that we are different does not mean you treat us unfairly or in an inferior manner.

      So, I like to treated well, have men offer to carry my bags, open doors for me, though I am capable of doing it myself, just makes me well taken care of but I could kick you if I felt that you genuinely feel that I am a stupid inferior creature. So it is not easy

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  16. For me, femininity is only in your outer looks, appearance, body, voice, mannerism, the way you walk etc. etc. Personal traits, rationality, forgiving nature, cruelty, courage, cowardice, submissiveness, dominance, sympathy, apathy and being mysterious etc. are just human natures, not masculine or feminine.

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  17. The concept of feminine and masculine are social constructs. It is a belief that these are diametrically opposite and complementary forces. I personally dislike such a binary categorization. Often cultural myths and religious beliefs reinforce and justify this division.

    How do you describe femininity?
    A set of attributes, behaviors and roles that a society want its female members to develop and associate with.

    What makes a woman feminine?
    If a female develops and identify with all those narrowly defined attributes, roles and behaviors that have been traditionally associated with being a woman, then she is called feminine.

    How important it is for a woman to be feminine?
    In a highly conservative and traditional society, it is very important for a woman to pigeonhole herself into the one definition that a society has of a woman. In fairly liberal societies, things aren’t as black and white as they are in a traditional society and some deviance is allowed. However, a woman who completely refuses to exhibit those qualities and fulfill those roles that are culturally and socially associated with her gender is snubbed, derided and considered an exception or outcast. And although liberal societies allow for more choices, a woman still has to tread carefully, she can be the best manager or athlete but unless she can cook as well as she can supervise or run, she isn’t applauded or rewarded for her contributions to the society.

    What must she do to be seen as feminine?
    To be seen as feminine, one needs to adopt a certain style of clothing the is considered as feminine. Followed by alteration of physical characteristics which includes growing ones nails and hair long, getting rid of facial and body hair, applying makeup. It is important that one walks and sits lady like and constantly strive to achieve and maintain the ideal female figure. In short one must look ethereal and perfect to be considered feminine. Once the superficial aspects of being feminine are taken care of one must exhibit characteristics like interest in personal appearance, politeness, demureness , meekness, gentleness, innocence, lack of interest in worldly affairs, dependence and so on so forth.

    How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)
    I don’t think someone is actually born with all those qualities that are traditionally associated with being a woman. How can somebody be born with a love for cooking and knitting or an obsession with everything pink? Yes some people are more shy than others, some more intelligent than others, but socialization, social exposure, stereotypes, opportunity to explore onself, life experiences play a very important role in making people who they are. I don’t think people should strive to fit these narrowly defined definitions of what they are supposed to be. Clearly, society’s categories for what is masculine and feminine are unrealistic and stereotypical. They do not capture how people truly feel, behave, and define themselves.

    In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?
    Conformity is easier than being unconventional. I don’t know if it makes them happier but confirming to gender norms certainty help them gain society’s approval. I believe it lessens the choice.

    Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine? So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine? What other traits would you describe as feminine?
    Being unpredictable and mysterious is considered to be feminine. This unrealistic simplification or stereotype is used to dismiss women in general and as a means of rationalizations for people who fail to understand the women in their lives or people who don’t want to make an effort to get to know women as they assume men and women to be complete opposites of each other, even though we are more alike than different. Socially other traits that are considered feminine are emotional, passive, submissive, weak, nurturing.

    What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
    To attract men and for social approval.

    If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you?
    Until now I have never thought about myself in this way. I refuse to be labeled as feminine or masculine. But if I consider my overall personality and interests, traditionally I would fall into the category of masculine as I display behaviors that are culturally associated with men more than the behaviors that are culturally associated with being a women. Being or to be perceived as feminine by others is not at all important to me.

    Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?
    Well for one as I pointed above I am very unfeminine. I get along just fine, it hasn’t made that big of a difference in my life until now. However, I have occasionally encountered people who are confused and intimidated by me because they find it difficult to put me into a box. Some thought of me as an exception and gave me backhanded compliments for not exhibiting hyperfemininity. Frankly, I pity such people and don’t care about their views.

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      • Culture determines gender roles and what is masculine and feminine. All men have some so-called feminine traits, and all women have some so-called masculine traits. I wish people people realize this soon and stop buying the whole gender binary theory. Men and women are not complete opposites of each other, they are not from different planets. Our cultures teach women and men to be the opposite of each other in many ways. Obviously there are some differences-physical, cognitive and behavioral, but we are more alike than we are different. If everybody would just move out of their comfort zone and challenge these stereotypes, they will see what they truly are capable of and realize how they are much more than those labels that the society likes to put on them.

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        • Exactly, instead of striving to be masculine or feminine, we should strive to be the best human beings we can be.

          I have never understand why so many of us allow a set of reproductive organs to determine our personality, attitudes and life choices to such an extent.

          If the history of human civilisation has shown anything, it is that human behavior is infinitely mutable, adaptable and at all times, defined by previaling social and cultural norms.

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  18. 1. How do you describe femininity?
    certain way of dressing and demure behaviour considered related to female gender by convention/tradition.

    2. What makes a woman feminine?
    being gentle/soft-spoken/demure.
    maintaining appearances(clothes,looks) considered attractive to men

    3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?
    Important only if & when she desires to hitch a mate (most of the guys). It is also handy sometimes to appeal to traditional society’s sentiments/prejudices in order to get your work done.

    4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?
    same as 2.

    5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)
    One size does not fit all. The moment it starts feeling forced upon you, it is unreasonable. I hate anything forced upon me, though I might have ingrained certain ‘feminine’ behaviours due to social conditioning .. so it doesn’t seem like work.

    6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?
    It makes getting a mate easier, I don’t think marriage brought happiness to a lot of women but then society ruins your happiness if you don’t get married. So, in a way it does.
    In day to day life, it does not pay to be unconventional in any society, effeminate men have it a lot tougher than tomboyish women.

    7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine? So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine? What other traits would you describe as feminine?
    “unpredictable and mysterious” is sexy to some, not feminine qualities per se. It is used by men in relationships just to dismiss their women as irrational, emotional beings.

    8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
    To hitch a mate.

    9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?
    I think am a borderline case. I wear jeans/clothes designed for women, am soft-spoken but not into grooming,make-up etc.

    10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?
    One of my close friends is a tomboy. Life is great except no men show interest. That wouldn’t bother her so much but with most friends getting married/having kids and ‘busy in their own lives’ , she has recently started feeling the need to have someone whose full attention she can claim, a friend for life who wouldn’t be too busy for her ever (in her words).

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    • “effeminate men have it a lot tougher than tomboyish women”
      effeminate and tomboyish are just labels. People who desperately try to fit in the societal notions of what is feminine and masculine, are taken off guard when they see people trangressing the gender norms. Such people have a strong tendency to conform to gender norms and seek to maintain them so that they can validate their own choices. By the way effeminate men have it harder because it is denigrating to be a women. How else can we explain these insults like “don’t cry like a girl” or “you those like a girl”.

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      • Agree that being effeminate is an insult because anything associated with women is substandard. But that said, this is one of those rare areas where women have it better than men.

        Historically, a lot of ground has been broken for women through struggle. So women adopting clothes that were designated for men like trousers, women entering domains like the workplace designated for men traditionally, women expressing male traits like aggression, bluntness etc. is become increasingly common in most societies.

        But men are very much constrained to the old gender norms – it helps that these norms put them in a privileged position but that doesn’t stop them from being constricting. Thus, a guy in a skirt is not acceptable, men are still expected to be breadwinners, to not enjoy tasks like cooking (routinely…doing guests appearances like a master chef is ok) or looking after the kids, to be strong and manly and capable of protecting women.

        Little girls who are tomboys get talked about or generally are source of some amusement but little boys who like to dress up in their mommy’s clothes – this is cause for great concern and in the playground, a “sissy” boy is a target for bullies.

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        • Yes, you have said what i meant TheBride. And verbal/sexual harassment of such men is distressingly common, even their social circle is not very sensitive. My brother did a documentary on cross dressers, it is heart-breaking to see their struggle and loneliness.
          If feminine is plucking, powdering, high heels, skirts and shunning of physical exercise/sun; I can proudly say close to all of my friends including me are not feminine. Our lives are not lacking anything. And my friends who choose to dress overtly as men also have a fulfilling life, great friends and lay people have more good to say about them than bad.

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        • Obviously, girls have it better because we have more freedom when it comes to doing the things we want. Girls can play sports and do other “guy stuff” but if boys want to do something that is considered stereotypically girly like baking or knitting, they are made fun of. And why should they not be made fun of? After all boys are supposed to be macho, tough-as-nails, adrenaline-pumping machines not flower sniffing twinkle toes.

          The model of manhood consists of emotional repression, show of strength, and denial of assistance. Boy’s toys and the media reinforce the idea that aggression, promiscuity, and brutality are key aspects of the male identity and that being perceived as masculine is of utmost importance. This leads to a situation where boys must constantly prove they are masculine enough. If they are caught doing anything remotely feminine, others make it a point to attack them for exhibiting such a behaviour. Anything remotely “feminine” is seen as inferior and emasculating.

          If men are allowed to be their authentic selves, to show their softer side and no longer risk ostracism if they are not “macho” enough, they’d stop trying to be the cardboard cut-outs of masculinity promoted in movies and advertisements and by the society as a whole.

          The society is so caught up in what is masculine and what is feminine; it forgets that we are only people. The expectations for women and men in our society are pretty much set in stone. We need to stop typecasting; it hurts men and women alike. Both men and women are bound by the shackles of patriarchy and while patriarchy does put men at a more advantageous position, it also stunts their growth in many ways and create dsyfunctional relationships between men and women.

          There is a reason why girls who show an interest in traditionally masculine activities are a source of amusement and guys who show an interest in traditionally feminine activities are shunned and laughed at. It is because “greater value is assigned to that which is associated with masculinity and lesser value to that which is associated with femininity.” Historically women have not typically held positions of power. This is because the characteristics and behavioural traits of a powerful person do not fit into the stereotypical and socialised image of what a woman should be from the perspective of both men and women. Masculine traits are synonymous with power and considered superior to feminine traits. And while there are more women in traditionally men dominated fields than ever before, women in power are regarded as showing masculine characteristics of dominance, strength and autonomy. We are now at cross roads where both men and women are redefining and reinventing femininity and masculinity.

          However all said and done I agree that women do have it slightly easier to break out of the gender norm than men and as you pointed out it is a cause for great concern. But I have to say this that more men now are stepping up and becoming more involved in parenting and other household activities. Men are now able to express their more compassionate, caring side and even shed a few tears. We need to continue our endeavours towards achieving true equality between the sexes.
          Here’s one link you’d find interesting:

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  19. To me feminity means looks or percieved appearences, SOmehow nature does not fall into that category – even men can be shy and soft hearted without being called feminine.

    I have been told I’m very feminine ??? I guess appearance wise + I keep my hair a medium length and I’m never without a bindi or kajal (I look like I wept without these two🙂 ) I like simple jewellery and my diamonds . Love ethnic Indian wear . i hate those tight skirts . Not a big fan of jeans – especially in Mumbai!!!! I’m more a flowing long skirts person. and can jog for about 25-30 min before collapsing . I did play basketball in college and my family keep me fit with their volleyball games, but I’m the physically weakest of the lot. Genetics plays a part, my spouse and kids are giants and i have tiny puny arms …so physically yes i look feminine more so among them.

    I think I also think different from them. I’m wired different. My interests are different and I’m quieter ?, the boys can really exercise their vocal cords.
    I think it shows more when I’m with my sons, they are big, opinionated, teens and we’re trying very hard to rub in good manners🙂 my husband on the other end is very polished, great manners instilled by his parents. yet he doesn’t come across as feminine.
    i think being feminine can mean many things, to me it also means power. in the Indian context i think feminine is more the slim, pale beauty unfortunately.
    In the end it is what you make it to be. you can be feminine and smart , or feminine and dumb.

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  20. The first thought that came to mind on reading this list was the age-old Hollywood and Bollywood cliche where the lead actress is a tomboy and so is only seen as a “friend” by the lead actor. And it’s only when she changes and becomes more feminine does he realize he loves her. Exhibit A: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I actually liked the movie the first time I saw it as an impressionable teenager but now I cringe at the thought that Kajol had to don saris and lose at basketball to win Shahrukh’s affections. Also pretty awful was the scene where she tries dressing up to imitate Rani and is made fun of by everyone.

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    • That part about Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is so true, Uma.I used to love most aspects of that movie (incl the saree-clad Kajol ones)when i was a teenager ..Now that I think of it, I have no idea why I did.

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  21. 1. The state of being a female.
    2. Its the hormones.
    3. Not important. I believe everyone should pursue happiness and peace rather than femininity / masculinity.
    4. A haircut thats not obviously masculine, clothing that does not completely hide feminine bodily attributes, a particular walking style etc
    5. As long as anything required to be seen as feminine is done because one likes or wants to do it and not by fear of rejection or compulsion, its fine. Its not okay to force any one to do something relatively effortless as wearing a bindi.
    6. I dunno that any of the femininity factors made me particularly happy.
    7. I guess so, as I have heard ‘Women are complicated’ way too many times. In my opinion, Indian society cannot handle honesty from anyone, man or woman. They just want everyone to fit in to the roles. Wish everyone could be honest!
    8. I guess anything else is considered abnormal.
    9. I consider myself feminine simply because I seem to have the bodily attributes that pertain to a female. Are my activities and behavior feminine – I am not so sure, as the definition varies. Do I care if anyone thinks I am not feminine – No.
    10. I don’t really know anyone well enough to comment on how it affected their life.

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        • Abnormal testosterone levels in a woman result in hirsutism (hairiness), facial hair (on the chin and upper lip), broader shoulders and a heightened libido–and all these (except the libido part which is not obvious) do take away from the perceived femininity of the woman. So yes hormones do have a role to play in determining how feminine a woman appears to be, just that it is not the sole determinant. Quite a lot also depends on how the woman conducts/carries herself which is mostly learned behaviour.

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  22. I WANT TO BE BORN AS A WOMAN ALWAYS
    long back i wrote a post in hindi
    हर जनम मोहे बिटिया ही कीजो

    हर जनम मे मुझे शक्ति इतनी ही दीजो की जब भी देखू कुछ गलत , उसे सही करने के लिये होम कर सकू , वह सब जो बहुत आसानी से मुझे मिल सकता था /है /होगा ।
    चलू हमेशा अलग रास्ते पर जो मुझे सही लगे सो दिमाग हर जनम मे ऐसा ही दीजो की रास्ता ना डराए मुझे , मंजिल की तलाश ना हो ।
    बिटियाँ बनाओ मुझे ऐसी की दुर्गा बन सकू , मै ना डरू , ना डराऊँ पर समय पर हर उसके लिये बोलू जो अपने लिये ना बोले , आवाज बनू मै उस चीख की जो दफ़न हो जाती है समाज मे।
    रोज जिनेह दबाया जाता है मै प्रेरणा नहीं रास्ता बनू उनका । वह मुझसे कहे न कहे मै समझू भावना उनकी बात और व्यक्त करू उन के भावो को अपने शब्दों मे।
    ढाल बनू , कृपान बनू पर पायेदान ना बनू ।
    बेटो कि विरोधी नही बेटो की पर्याय बनू मै , जैसी हूँ इस जनम मै ।
    कर सकू अपने माता पिता का दाह संस्कार बिना आसूं बहाए ।
    कर सकू विवाह बिना दान बने ।
    बन सकू जीवन साथी , पत्नी ना बनके ।
    बाँट सकू प्रेम , पा सकू प्रेम ।
    माँ कहलायुं बच्चो की , बेटे या बेटी की नहीं ।
    और जब भी हो बलात्कार औरत के मन का , अस्तित्व का , बोलो का , भावानाओ का या फिर उसके शरीर का मै सबसे पहली होयुं उसको ये बताने के लिये की शील उसका जाता है , जो इन सब चीजो का बलात्कार करता है ।
    इस लिये अभी तो कई जनम मुझे बिटिया बन कर ही आना है , शील का बलात्कार करने वालो को शील उनका समझाना है । दूसरो का झुका सिर जिनके ओठो पर स्मित की रेखा लाता है सर उनका झुकाना हैं । वह चूहे जो कुतर कर बिलो मे घुस जाते हैं , बाहर तो उन्हें भी लाना है ।
    दाता हर जनम मोहे बिटिया ही कीजो ।
    it probably is a indirect reply to your post but that is what being a woman means to be

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  23. Warning: Hyperbole/long rant ahead.

    1. How do you describe femininity?

    A constraining stereotype. The bane of our collective existence – the main reason for all the pain we women put ourselves through, the eyebrow plucking and the spreading of hot wax on our skin to rip the hair out by the root, the starving until we’re a skinny size zero or so, the botox and the nips and tucks, and being PROUD of how we defy age. A social norm so deeply ingrained in us that trying to get rid of it is as easy as ripping fingernails. Something that promotes the “herd” mentality, and promotes artifice (both physical and behavioral) in the best of us. A mask that requires us to suppress/disguise sexuality, opinionatedness, aggressiveness, and even just ornery bad temper with a placid, vapid, agreeable front. A pseudo compliment used on those who buy in to societal norms, and choose subjugation over freedom.
    Note, being feminine is not to be confused with attractiveness.

    2. What makes a woman feminine?

    Plucking, powdering, rouging, painting, brushing, perfuming, filing nails, pushing back cuticles, curling hair, straightening hair, removing hair, wearing torturous six-inch stilettos, squeezing feet into narrow, pointed shoes, wearing tight figure-defining clothes and fat-disguising underwear, wearing dupattas and tent-like clothes that camoflauge curves, lasering, nipping, tucking, injecting crows feet and forehead wrinkles with botox, plumping lips with botox, wearing push up bras, breast enhancement, breast reduction, liposuction, refraining from hymen-breaking or tan-inducing activities, staying away from dirt and sweat, among others.

    3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?

    Very important if you want to part of the herd. Otherwise, inconsequential. And using “feminine wiles” to “catch” (ugh) a man will only result in discontent all around. How long will you keep the mask on? Marriage is a partnership, not a con.

    4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?

    See #2.
    Also,she must talk softly, limit laughter volume, not intimidate men/elders with intelligence/wit/athletic ability (It is acceptable to be better-looking, however, men aren’t intimidated by better-looking females) unless she wants to be labelled a bitch, or asked questions like “Are you really a woman?”. She must also remember to wither when asked the “are you really a woman” question unless she wants to be labelled “besharam” too.

    5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)

    The list-of-feminine-values like caring, nurturing, shy and susheel etc is mostly BS, and there’s no point in “cultivating” or “assuming” these qualities.
    In my case, I’m so strongly conditioned on certain physical aspects of “femininity” that even though I believe that it’s unfair that just one gender has to go through all the pain and the fuss and the expense, I grudgingly do it. Some aspects of “femininity” rank as highly as brushing, and higher than flossing. Others are an occasional concession.

    6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?

    It doesn’t, and it doesn’t. The abla naari shtick can be used to manipulate or avoid accountability, but why would I want to? Being thought of as dumb/weak and helpless isn’t much incentive.

    I gave up learning the guitar because I was getting calluses on my fingers (I was painfully young, and dumb) I have friends who won’t go on all-day hikes because they’ll get tanned. I have friends who refused horse-back lessons because they were afraid of a hymen rupture. I was hesitant to begin weight training because I didn’t want “man muscles” (My trainer bluntly told me that I just didn’t have enough testosterone to look like a wrestler, and that I won’t be any less “foo-foo” afterward (her derogatory term for feminine)). I don’t swim because the chlorine in pool water ruins my hair and skin (also aggravates my sinus symptoms, but the primary reasons are cosmetic). On the rare occasion I do swim, it involves a 30 min pre-swim ritual that involves a shower, and lots of coconut oil and conditioner.

    Losing the “this isn’t feminine” filter opens up a whole world of fun possibilities.

    7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine? So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine? What other traits would you describe as feminine?

    A complex nature is not gender-specific. And I hate it that being rational,straight-forward, and honest are considered unfeminine. And the whole “high-maintenance” thing. What are we, muscle cars?

    8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?

    That women need to be feminine, or they’ll be freaks, and no one will like/love them.

    9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?

    Not in thoughts or action. I’m as independent as they come, and that puts paid to my membership in the femininity club.

    I make allowances for some aspects of femininity (mostly physical, and rarely clothes), primarily because I was a tomboy as a child, and have some not-so-great memories from school and I don’t ever want to be in a similar situation again (teachers were responsible, not fellow students).

    But I don’t let the fear of calluses or “man-muscles” come in the way of doing what I want to do any more. I’m an outdoors person, I love adrenaline rushes, and I’ve embraced this part of me, without feeling bad about falling off the feminine bandwagon. And I’ve gotten rid of all my painful “dressy” heels (have an ankle injury to thank for that).

    10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of (percieved) femininity?

    Oh yes. My trainer for one. She started off “feminine” (or foo-foo as she calls it) trained in ballet as a child etc. She is petite, and no WWF wrestler, but she has completed the Iron Man several times, many triathalons, and at 34, just finished a degree in Nursing when she decided that a career as a fitness trainer wasn’t lucrative enough. She has more “get up and go” than a three year old. I hope to be as “unfeminine” as she is someday🙂

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    • Thumbelina, high heels are my latest pet peeve. Going to do a post on that soon.

      And teachers… argh! We had one well-respected teacher in school who said how girls don’t know how to sit in skirts anymore because they are always in jeans. And we were all in awe at her insight – imagine if we lose the precious skill of sitting in a skirt. Never thought to question what great use it is to wear a skirt and exactly how complicated anyway that one has to practice one’s whole life for it. Or even, so what if the odd person catches a glimpse of one’s underwear?

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      • I too recall a 5th standard teacher chiding us for running back to class from games, saying ‘walk like ladies!’ Even at that age the rebel in me refused to listen and walked a few steps in obedience, then began running as fast as possible.😀 I don’t know why anyone would want 9 and 10 year old girls to ‘walk like ladies’ but it sounds so ridiculous that my brain refuses to process it.

        As for the sitting properly in skirts, I remember reading this research paper that a well respected orthopedic doctor wrote that put forward the hypothesis stating that one factor that makes women have more knee problems is because they tend to sit with their knees pressed together, thus making the hip adductors stronger and throwing the important muscles off balance. Now we have one more reason to embrace jeans and pants!😀

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      • Bad teachers have their upsides though. A friend and I were both thrown out of a all-girls SUPW class (not that day, but as in “you’re banned from this class) because we couldn’t sit still or stay quiet enough. While the rest of the girls knitted and purled, we grew brinjals with the male students. Guess who had more fun😀😀

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        • I loved knitting so brinjals would have been lost on me. But SUPW, that is such a hilariously-named subject. Only a bureaucratic could have come up with that.

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  24. an educated, nurturing, self respecting woman/ man who is also respectful to others, has a head on the shoulder and feet on the ground. is broadly what I believe is feminine or masculine.

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  25. Pingback: Of femininity and footwear « for whom the bell tolls

  26. here’s my two bits, though very late

    Ten questions on femininity.
    1. How do you describe femininity?
    based on the times i’ve said – it’s a woman thing!, i would describe feminity as the qualities of –
    – being nurturing
    – being intuitive
    – having a heightened sense of aesthetics
    – being able to take pain – both physical and emotional, and soldier on
    – being practical about the small every day aspects of dealing with home and with children

    i’m not saying men are not or cannot be any or all of this… to me it just seems more of a woman thing, therefore, an indication of feminity

    2. What makes a woman feminine?
    all of the above

    3. How important is it for a woman to ‘be’ feminine?
    in my opinion, its enough if women know their strengths and work from that, but that’s just my opinion.

    4. What must she do to be seen as feminine?
    generally, society expects a ‘real woman’ to be something of a cross between martha stewart and aishwarya rai (in terms of prettiness) so i guess that’s the standard most ‘feminity’ is held to

    5. How much effort would you consider reasonable for a woman to put for being seen as feminine (or are all women born with femininity?)
    i would say know what you want in terms of how you want to look, and how you want to be as a person, and put your all into it, and to hell with what others think – if you want it and can afford it, don’t let external pressures bother you.

    6. In what ways does being feminine make women’s lives happier? Does it give them more choices?
    a happy woman is a strong woman. a woman under pressure to conform to others’ ideas of right, wrong, and feminity is caught in a web of external demands

    7. Is being unpredictable and mysterious (difficult to understand/complex?) considered feminine?
    So is being rational, straight forward and honest unfeminine?
    no, definitely not.
    What other traits would you describe as feminine?
    same as answer to question 1

    8. What is the biggest reason women are given to want to be feminine?
    feminine as society sees it? societal pressures, plus pressures of media and marketing. a lot of it they do to themselves.

    9. If you are a woman, do you consider yourself ‘feminine’ – how important is that to you? Why?
    yes, i think i’m feminine.
    i have very short hair that everyone in my family, and most of my (male) friends say is not feminine, and i often wear clothes that my teen daughter in frustration describes as mannish, but i don’t feel that way. it makes me feel good, and i like feeling good.
    i think it is important to fit my definition of being feminine, and i like being that way because it makes me feel good; i guess that’s what it comes down to in the end – feeling good about oneself.
    but then again, i’m a 40 something woman who doesn’t have to conform to societal/family pressures to find a husband or get ahead (in what ever way). i don’t have to be bothered about anybody’s opinion of how i should look, how my home should be, or how i should bring up my children or even if i should have them. i’m free of all that, and so i can finally and happily be the kind of person i want to be, and look the way i want to look. this was definitely not so when i was 20.

    10. Do you know of women who are not feminine, how do you think are their lives are affected by their lack of femininity?
    women who don’t fit society’s norm of feminity are the butt of sarcasm, derogatory comments and speculation about their sexuality, their ability to be good home makers and mothers, and i’m sure it affects their ability to find grooms if theirs is going to be an arranged marriage. sad really.

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  27. Being logical, rational, straightforward, and honest is not feminine for a woman. It has to be subtle and discreet or else she’s considered a bad woman. Same thing when she expresses emotions. Women must be silent and keep their emotions to themselves. Women who shut themselves down, are quiet and shy, unpredictable, and mysterious are very feminine.

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