It’s been a while since I heard the word femininity. In writing this, I immediately thought of its twin sister – feminism. As femininity sits in her quiet confidence, feminism continues to draw attention to herself. Feminism is as loud as femininity is quiet. Plastered across Facebook and Instagram are role models for the new brand of feminism that rebels against male standards and a male dominated world… a battlecry that advocates freedom to “do what you want” without much regard for consequences. We see this in the manner women dress, speak and act – where naked seems to be the new normal and filters seen as the new authentic.
Fragile Beauty (Bali, Indonesia)
Don’t get me wrong, feminism emerged from the mentality that men and women deserve the same rights – and this movement has given women in most parts of the world the greatest gift of all – the power of choice. Fast-forward to this century – now that we are reaping the rewards of this choice, are we using it to elevate women or are we creating more dissonance amongst ourselves? Are we using it to promote a healthy coexistence with men or are we turning into men to try to beat them at their own game? Have women in the public eye been using this responsibly?
As this modern brand of feminism gains momentum, the classic definition of femininity is shunned to the sidelines. Are the days where strength in silence, grace in adversity, beauty in authenticity really gone? Has Audrey Hepburn been replaced by Kim Kardashian?
Role models are seen as beacons that represent the desires of a generation. Perhaps centuries ago, the classic image of femininity – being prim and proper, speaking only when spoken to, being conservative in dress and manner, even putting a premium on motherhood- these were what encompassed what being a woman was all about.
At the time feminism was at its birth stages, we remember the tragedies that became the fate of Anna Karenina, Madame Bovaryand Edna Pontellier, where these women decided to act on their desires and disregard social conventions. This was a time women didn’t have many options and weren’t blessed with the power of choice as a birthright.
So what about now? Has the meaning of femininity been lost or has it just evolved?
For me it all boils down to the gift the women that preceded us gave us – the power of choice. Femininity nowadays is no longer limited to its classic stereotype of being “prim and proper”, or the traditional roles that surround it – motherhood, or marriage. With more options comes more responsibility. With freedom, comes consequences. With conflicting images in media and society, comes a call to examine one’s conscience. Exercising freedom with no regard for present day realities is not feminism, but rebellion. In fact, femininity is not a concept so separate from today’s modern woman, because it already exists within women regardless of what generation she belongs to. It’s a call to humanity, more than anything. It’s choosing love. It’s choosing authenticity. It’s choosing joy. It’s choosing peace. These are concepts that transcend gender, and fall into the realm of what it means to be human.
Don’t get so lost in the labels and mixed signals we pick up from society or the media.