Essay by Inna, Our Ukrainian Connection
Being a Woman: branded or self-made?
Once having a trivial chatting with my colleague, at my ordinary working day, I’ve been bewildered by this concise appraisal of his. Aware of my favourite films of all aeons and genres, he uttered that he never suspected the actress, who played heroic Lt. Ellen Ripley in Alien/Aliens, could be so feminine as in regard to her part of a flirtatious swindler in Heartbreakers. You may ascribe it to her acting skills or to the director/s who shaped the lady to play Р“СћРІвЂљВ¬РІР‚Сљ for the first time and unusually for 80s’ – strong female character… However, I never counted the iconic contender of nightmarish creatures to be less womanly, than a woman can be. In the essay below, I’ll take an attempt to explain ‘why’ and, hopefully, you will find the reading entertaining, leastwise.
Quest for femininity
From my school years, I remember an old joke about two parents, boasting their babies in front of each other. Widespread occasion, which you can easily spot any time our days. Yet, the kernel of that tiny humorous story was grounded in mainly nonsensical and thereby risible reply of one of the adults about the baby’s gender and that he/she is free to choose either when grown-up. Rather not uncommon situation in present time. With all transgender variances permitted, such as drag shows, sex reassignment surgeries and equal marriages, we have grown habituated to freedom of self-identification as men or women. Next gender transition news is deemed rather trite, than fresh: Larry Wachowski turned up Lana Wachowski, who cares?
Still, there is a hint of a question, whether don’t we fritter away anything valuable in the course of impetuous sex changes and acceptances, something that should be an indissoluble and strictly innermost part of ourselves?
Now and then, we get an earful, censuring liberation for making women emotionally too low-key and hard-line in their decisions and imputing the cause of rise among single mothers to a superiority of masculine vigour in modern women. On the other hand, fair part of mankind self-reprovingly judge themselves for not being feminine enough, and certain extremely disappointed species of us are eager to squander lots of the banknotes on pundits who coach to exude ‘femininity’ and act properly in the presence of a man. Honestly, it might help, well, it might have been useful, if any of self-proclaimed experts in womanly side of human nature would kindly elucidate what precisely ‘femininity’ is. What does this term imply and whether aren’t all women innately feminine by obvious definition that they’re women?
Boundaries of stereotypes
The truth is nobody can give the straight answer, furthermore, many prefer to eschew the topic, rather than to make an effort to chip in. Probably, they are just out of conceit with the current circumstances, but have no idea what can be done to improve the world. The bottom line of the rest of contributors’ consideration amounts to redundant reiteration of medieval ages canons as to ladies’ conduct and traits, narrowly followed by the terse and abrupt conclusion about irrelevance of that concept today. So we are again at a loss in our quest.
Let’s take a step back. From our present-day vantage point, it’s evident that knighthood era is long-gone. So are pretentious flimsiness, overt sensitivity and elevated prudery and all other similar affectations serving ladies to (as though) fall into a faint at any snap of fingers. As much as ridiculous these qualities of exaggerated susceptibility and affected gentility seem now, they were a distinct trademark of the obsolete society, a superficial cultural stamp on lofty and impartial enough public, when honour over-weighed gold and lady’s virtue trumped her unassuming appearance.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to presume, that we are as well as before living in a stereotyped world, with a differing set of conventions, though. One of which, for instance, is mainstream girls are commiseratively loathing ‘damsel in distress’ frame of mind and would attempt some actions instead of waiting for somebody to come and save them. What is the point of being wimpy and, as seemingly follows – feminine in a high-competitive environment? But wait! How has it come that weakness and womanliness coalesced into closely associated terms, if cowardice and helplessness have never made their way into the list of ladies’ moral qualities? Maybe, because up-to-date public is thoroughly cliched upon notion of impertinent, inventive, physically attractive youngsters, having all doors opened before them, sought for by effervescent opportunities… and easily manipulative. Bringing-up consumers takes its toll, you know.
Womanly traits, skills and roles
For that matter, let’s shape up to the trend and play consumers. Envision as we book the aforementioned training, destined to teach us womanliness. By that, I mean not a Buddhism-based spiritual indoctrination, that can be readily applied to both genres, but outright crash-courses on transfiguring girlish brat into a dignified lady. Odds are you will be subjected to commit to memory the fashion of maintaining erect posture (staggering with a jug full of water on the top of your head), manifesting refined manners (handle twenty utensils of the kitchen cutlery around the plate) and emit modest benevolence and cheerfulness (assume compassionate countenance at every occasion possible), turning yourself into an apparent show of predetermined princely image. While there is nothing wrong about developing self-esteem and come to grips with your covert talents, the main snag with the every short-time infusion lies in the ‘reverse bath effect’, i.e. it will not last long. Endeavour demands new motivation instead of facing mundane realities. Princesses are not supposed to writhe in excruciating pangs of labour or simultaneously and alone master two kids frolicking, cooking and answering business phone calls.
Archaic notions of femininity, such as delicacy, gentleness, gracefulness, and patience, aren’t inferior whatsoever. The point is they merely are not enough to cover all the scale of women’s emotional, neural and mental capacity we encounter, as matters stand. Traditionally, motherhood and household were kept assigned to ladies for a long time with nothing more attainable beyond that territory. Fortuitously and contrary to the men’s spectrum of functions, industrial and successive advanced eras ushered women on completely untrodden paths. Gaining ballots, acquiring trades and licences diversified range of occupations and freedoms for ladies, therefore, bringing in the new models of social behaviour, in particular, discovering new ways of interaction with men.
Beyond the veneer
In all likelihood, at the juncture when ladies stepped into recently solely-owned by men professional spheres, fault-finding fell upon uninvited newcomers with feminine definitive characteristics. Indeed, who would be pleased to share their piece of pie with strangers that shook the very foundations of your system? Backfire resulted in petty carping to shameless scoffing at sacred feminine qualities, with the purpose to either restrict them to home-caring and nurturing duties (with a positive connotation) or to underscore their disparaging effect in ‘Men’s world’ (as follows, in a negative sense). Nevertheless, this adventure into awakened womanliness has been anything but a blind alley.
Notably, that what differentiates us from men gives us a power. The very essentials of feminine energy, such as predisposition to activity, magnetism, intuition, emotionality and faculty to perceive the things as a whole, lend immeasurable impetus to our fair kind. Unlike the men with their inalterable through ages role of ‘breadwinner’, ladies are endowed with at least a few social options, and a leeway to switch between them. We are inborn role-shifters, adaptable, flexible, fast-learning. Office type on clicking stiletto heels, enticing vamp in lace and see-through stockings, loving mother in cosy turtle-neck jumper or fervent tennis player in a tight vest and a fluttering short skirt… The enumeration might continue endlessly.
As long as a utilised mask facilitates your pursuit of living the life fully and effectuates your current mission of self-realisation, you may hide behind any cloak. As long as you remember that your make-up and garments are consequent from your inner belief, i.e. they are not the authoritative clue to dictate your demeanour and course of life, you will keep your inviolable integrity safe and driving zeal inextinguishable.
The day the maturing girl willingly assumes new social function, the insight of inherent women’s tool kit for transformations renders plenty of scope in front of her to carve the unique lady out of herself. Mimicking a celebrity, being a walking blueprint of some trend is undoubtedly the quickest approach to introduce yourself to the public, although unimaginative one. On the other hand, there is a life-long journey into discovering woman in your skin and wielding feminine powers that could never be gone through. Universal recipe for concocting woman doesn’t exists, it’s all up to you to make yourself the way you want to be.
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