Rasberry: Learning to embrace yourself, regardless of gender constructs

Feminist Food for Thought

The year of 2015 has been pretty interesting so far. The number of presidential nominees is slowly being weaned down, marijuana has been considered for legalization within multiple states and a slew of school shootings were reported. Suddenly the media has turned its ever-watchful gaze towards a broader range of human rights, such as modern racism, transgender issues and the “rise” of feminism within popular understanding.

Yet even with all of these important issues slowly coming to light, there is still a healthy dose of misogyny and mockery of femininity, both within the media and society. Why is it that amongst the majority, femininity is seen as inferior to masculinity? What anatomically makes the notion of femininity bad in males, but good in females? The limits of behaviors, dress, demeanor, etc. we have set in place for what is traditionally identified as “feminine” and “masculine” appear more overrated and finicky than ever. Honestly the constructs we’ve created for men and women are far too one-sided towards men and those who cling to masculinity as a sort of social safety net.

This obvious preference for masculinity is unnerving and harmful. Consider that the most probable reasons for it are a sense of fear or a feeling of being uncomfortable with femininity, an outright hatred for femininity, an inflated masculine or masculine-leaning ego or a social pressure of not being accepted if one portrays a more feminine or an almost hyper-feminine side.

However, these reasons are not good excuses for bashing femininity. As made popular by the band, Rush, in their song “Witch Hunt”, the “ignorance and prejudice and fear [that] walk hand in hand” are serious problems that need to be addressed. I find that the best way to tackle such obstacles is by obtaining knowledge and understanding; the metaphorical Olympian fire Prometheus bestowed upon humanity if you will.

One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about traditionally feminine things is hygiene and putting time into one’s appearance. It should be clarified: hygiene is not specifically a feminine thing, though it is often thought to be. Many women and some men value hygiene and appearance because it allows these persons to feel more attractive and present themselves with a sense of pride and individuality.

The ultimate goal is to feel confident and comfortable in one’s own skin, and if you don’t like how you are, why not make yourself into your best self? Give yourself a confidence boost everyday if wearing makeup or exercising to get that toned ass or just smelling nice is all it takes. Your body is your own and you may do with it what you will, but if you limit yourself to what is only marketed to you or what is the simplest method, you may be missing out on experiencing something you regularly enjoy or something that makes you happy.

Another thing that comes to mind where femininity is concerned is behavior and how people interact with each other. In a more masculinized group of people, being vulnerable, honest and adamantly close with other people is seen as beneath them and something to be avoided. That’s utter crap. While sometimes it is better to be guarded and not spill your life story to other people or instantly cling to someone, it is by no means forbidden to empathize with people and show that you are human. Having flaws, admitting them, sharing experiences with others or complimenting others on their strengths are all perfectly normal human traits. At least for the sake of your emotional and mental state, you should try to connect with a few others on more than just a friendly, bantering level.

The stereotypes that women are too soft-hearted, they care too much or that they like to talk too much about their feelings are not unbefitting things for men or more masculine people. It is just as important, if not more so, for those who don’t express themselves to open themselves up to someone; it helps them regain balance, retain better emotional and mental states and obtain a more clear viewpoint.

Femininity is this concept that is both idolized and demonized for many of the same ignorant, brash reasons. You can’t be cute or sexy without appearing as only a pretty face, you can’t be too in touch with yourself and your needs, lest you be judged for being a “pansy” or too sensitive for other people to handle. With the way society has its viewpoints set, you can’t win with femininity, and that needs to change. Femininity is not just being girly or aligning yourself with traditionally girly values, it is one of the many facets that make up our person. If we allow ourselves the freedom to be as masculine as we wish, but deny our feminine sides, we are restricting ourselves from being our best, most complete self.

In light of this, I encourage you to go out and try something traditionally feminine that you genuinely want to try, regardless of your sex or gender. If something truly does make you uncomfortable, don’t force yourself to do it, but try to expand your horizons. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Kate Rasberry is a second-year student.