By Dixie Andelin Forsyth, 05/22/2020
Maybe you read that title and did a double take, thinking, “Wait a second, most feminists are female, aren’t they? Wouldn’t that indicate ‘feminine’?” All females are technically feminine, right? Not so fast. A woman may have two X chromosomes, the face of an angel, luscious flowing hair and an hourglass figure but be as unfeminine as a manspreading lumberjack. How, you ask? By the way she speaks, carries herself, socializes, and a million other things we don’t have time to list here, although I will attempt to give you an idea as I go.
We all know femininity when we see it, but sometimes it’s hard to articulate. The lazy hack who hasn’t done any homework will blurt out that feminine women wear pink frilly dresses and skip around singing about adorable little bunnies while frolicking in a flowery meadow. But we know intuitively that femininity is much deeper, more effective, more influential and powerful than that. And because it is so powerful, it has become an invisible threat to the feminist movement. Just the other night, I was shopping and saw a children’s hunting t-shirt that read “Some girls like to wear bows…Real girls shoot them.” So, the message is that if you want to be a “real girl”, you will hunt with a bow and arrow and shun the sissy hair ornaments. And if you really hope to be accepted, you’ll ride a motorcycle to your next kill.
There’s nothing wrong with hunting, and motorcycles can be fun. But why, as a society, are we shunning those hair bows? Why are we shunning dresses, and anything pink? I can’t tell you how many women I’ve met who brag about not owning a single dress, or how many feminist expectant mothers who stipulate before a girl baby shower “NO pink, please!” In modern society, women who do like girlly things often feel invalidated or even shamed for their preferences. But honestly, a lot of women love pink. We love the breezy flow of a long skirt and a bit of lace dripping from our wrists. We see a painting of Cinderella in a gorgeous gown and our pupils dilate as we imagine ourselves wearing it, descending from our pumpkin coach with elegant steps as we are viewed with awe and delight.
A lot of women also love to be gentle, speak softly, and let someone else lead; to look up to, to trust. Just as so many men have told me they dream of saving women from peril, we have wild dreams and fantasies of being rescued, of being carried princess-style up a flight of steps by our hero, of having our tears dried by big, masculine hands. Movies are filled with these themes. When I was a teenager, my friends and I would giggle and gush about such fantasies with each other and it was ok to do that. But today the idea of being rescued, of needing a man, has become a conversation taboo. It is now normal to be in a group of females and hear them say how physically tough they are, how they can do everything on their own without masculine help. That if they were the heroine of a movie, they would prefer to do their own fighting rather than watch the hero save them from the villain. Any girl who pipes up in that conversation to express contrary desires will likely get made fun of for wanting it, because “real women” are physically tough like men. Such shaming is like an emotional stun grenade. We watch action films where women without magical superpowers attack men and completely thrash them bloody. Deep down we know the odds are ridiculous, but so many women trick themselves into thinking we really could win in that situation. Both science and statistics are greatly against that. How many of you have heard numerous accounts of female rape victims overpowering their attackers? I thought not. But we can’t have meaningful discussions about this. It’s ok to know women are naturally weaker, but don’t mention that too casually in a conversation with feminists if you value your life.
There are thousands of physical and psychological differences between men and women, many at a cellular level, and they cannot be changed. Studies show that when infants are shown multiple images, the females will focus on faces and the males will focus on moving objects. In more scientific terms, the male brain is more connected from front to back, making them very visual and action oriented, while the female brain is more connected from side to side, making us very verbal and relationship sensitive. Men have at least 75% more upper body strength than women, while women house the most powerful human organ in their bodies: the mighty uterus. And yet a lot of feminist dialogue tries to discount our biological differences, to erase our unique feminine value to the human race, to blur the lines between the sexes, to mesh two separate gender roles into one confusing blob, and in some very upsetting cases to discount men as valid companions or contributors to society. One popular feminist saying states that “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Phrases such as “toxic masculinity” and “the patriarchy” (usually said with a snarl) get thrown about so much it makes me nauseated. These people obviously haven’t met my husband, the man I run to every day when he gets home from work because I miss every moment away from him. They don’t know my sons, who value womanhood and show respect to their sisters, wives, daughters, and even the women who hurl feminist abuses at them. These people never met my father, who worshipped the ground my mother walked on and cherished her until his final dying breath.
Don’t get me wrong, feminism in some forms has advocated fair causes and rooted out injustice. Other countries where women are treated especially badly [*cough* the Arab world…] would do well to adopt a lot of the agenda feminism has furthered. Women not being able to drive, vote and own property? Preposterous. That stuff should have been nipped in the bud. Laws governing the way we deal with domestic abuse, workplace harassment, stalking, rape, hiring practices, inheritance stipulations and so forth have freed women in some remarkable ways. But now we girls fall prey to a different menace:
Me writing this is a bit scary; and I fully expect hordes of other females to blow their tops, get on social media and skewer me for even mentioning a lot of these “radical” ideas. Who’s radical here? Who are the geniuses that say a career is the most fulfilling thing a woman can do, or that full-time motherhood is a waste of a woman’s potential? Who says men are unnecessary? That abortion on demand is where it’s at? Go ahead and burn me at the stake for not agreeing with such outrageous viewpoints.
Feminism may have started out with good intentions, but has morphed into an increasingly unpleasant radical feminism, which has gradually become the only viewpoint on women’s rights that can possibly be considered socially or morally acceptable by them. Feminine women, even if they espouse some feminist ideals, don’t speak their minds above a whisper these days. We carefully check first to see if a “friend” has any windows cracked for other viewpoints, and then we might dare to carefully say we like those bows in our hair. We do it by degrees, just in case our tastes are repugnant to our sisters. When we do, we tend to get angry looks, we get scolded, we get tales of horrible hairy man-beasts who have made women’s lives miserable. Sympathy is expressed, and we move on without being listened to or validated.
All women need human rights. Of course we do. But we also need to feel necessary and valid for our own strengths, whatever those may be. Women are amazing, and yet the radical feminist movement is marginalizing us. We are born with natural gifts, but we are told to squash them and imitate male behavior instead. And who tells us to do this? Other women. Feminists with anti-feminine voices.
We are divided amongst ourselves.
This is why feminism needs a feminine voice. Those of us who love being girly, who enjoy cooking for a man and raising children with him, who dream of someone else killing our spiders and carrying our heavy bags, who concern ourselves with the faces the baby girls saw in the study, those who are interested in good relationships…we need a voice too. There are so many things we are naturally good at. So many qualities that are innate to us, so easily summoned at important moments. We are the communicators, the healers, the nurturers, the Audrey Hepburns embracing diseased children for UNICEF, the Florence Nightingales soothing and healing the sick and wounded, the Princess Dianas walking slowly through a mine field wearing an unglamorous face shield, because she wanted to prevent suffering. We are people like my own mother, Helen B. Andelin, who started a global movement to promote femininity and save relationships, one marriage at a time. These women and so many more like them provided amazing examples of strong femininity, but most of them have passed away. Who is there to speak for us now?
Today there are many female voices, but not many that are feminine. Not many who regularly advocate for the girly, the delicate, the intentionally vulnerable. We have scores of women who march with raised fists and hats shaped like female genitalia. The difference is they prefer to yell, shame and demean, while the rest of us prefer to quietly and gracefully make a difference through encouragement, support and unselfishness. The loudest voices in the room carry the message. Our voices have not been heard, mainly because we are busy helping our communities and raising the next generation of leaders, artists, thinkers, writers, philanthropists. We don’t make as much of a ruckus, but we are much greater in number. Imagine the difference we could make if we had a voice.