(‘with a small ef’), femininity

What place does femininity have in a world where a section of the social body is deemed to be socially underpriviledged in virtue of their sex, and such underpriviledge is realised by means of not only social institution; but also social interaction?

We may reply to say that it is the feminine ideal which collides with the norm of masculinity; insofar as femininity in practice may go against those things deemed desirable in the contemporary age.

Financial security
Upward social mobility
Independence (how is this cashed out?; decision making; roles; hierarchical positioning)

There are various obstacles to the realisation of such ideals i-iii in the above; which address issues such as pregnancy; the role of mother; and the demonisation, rather than reification, of that all-so-sacred reproductive capacity that, beyond the social animal, the species homo sapiens seems to require to propagate.

Let me address the issue of self-expression.

Sinistre and Michael often have this discussion with me; how is it possible for a woman to be feminine anymore? Isn’t feminity an evil thing? Why not be homogeneous; to integrate elements of the female archetype into the male; and vice versa, in such a way to have a single ideal, no ‘horses for courses’, but just people?

That’s the kind of view that they have; they think it’s prejudiced to give women a priviledge of mercy in physical combat; if it is not accorded to men. Or; contrastedly, it is inappropriate for such stringent and unacceptable emotional incapcaity ascribed to (some construals of) male ideal. If we are to talk about equality, or similarity; to genuinely maintain that people are just people, don’t put up with “such bullshit” as saying ‘women should be treated different to men’ or vice versa. Likewise; why is it so unacceptable for men to be nurturing; women to be the intellectual genius and hard-nosed [like Newton] (this is where Sinistre says “Personally, I think a female Newton would be arousing…”). Lets call this perspective the homogeneity view of gender.

I shall advance a view, which I would like to call the specificity view of gender. Where, it is not the case of there being a gender divide of a taxonomic normative social ideal set (whereby we classify ‘masculine’, ‘feminine’, ‘butch’, ‘camp’, ‘effeminate’, ‘heroic’, along sex/gender lines); this is what Michael and Sinistre presuppose in order to deny. In a sense; invoking a strawman insofar as denying it to pursue their normative view of sex.

Not to say necessarily that I disagree with it; but I do think it is naive.

Instead of promoting a ‘people are people’ notion. I would like to maintain that there is still a species-genus distinction to be made within the taxonomy of personality phenotypes; but that these are asexual. The problem is, however, that these have all so often been construed on gender lines…which can, and should change.

Bravery, or the hero, is not a male ideal; but an asexual archetype which is expressed through the male. To be fierce in battle, nonpromiscuous, perhaps even virginal or chaste, to be studious in the pursuit of unjust rulers etc. can be coded as an archetype suis generis; we may have females who fit the bill; warrior princesses, revolutionaries, military or vigilante leaders; Boudicca, Joan of Arc, or Dido…

Instead of a parsimonious genus-species where at the hilt is a sex distinction; our taxonomy of archetypes may enjoy a status which entertains plenitude; we may have many combinations of archetpyes: supporting + heroic; sexual + intellectual (Abelard); boorish yet studious (Aquinas); arrogant, frail, yet calm (Kant); sentimental, effete, yet ‘hero’ (Aeneas).

Our appeal then, is not to an extra-structural social construction imposed upon agents such that they are imputed to follow it; such of the gender/sex construal. But a more self-oriented, active, rather than passive, ideal-creating, value constructing, self-conforming ideal. Individuality is forced from the self, by the matter of that outside; we melt it into something new; it is not defined from external structure; but there is structure and taxonomy nonetheless, albeit created by ourselves.

THe question arises; can we communicate these ideal taxonomies mutually? Can I communicate what I deem to be beautiful in a person or noble, or vile to you? Here, a story of the sensus communis comes in.


One thought on “(‘with a small ef’), femininity

  1. Very interesting post. As far as I understand you I agree with you. I think the real evil is the classification of people (into a small number of sets). So someone is male or female; gay, bisexual or straight. My generation has reacted to the growth of the gay rights movement not by dismanteling the classifaction system for people (which was males attracted to women, women attracted to men and sexual deviants) BUT by restructuring the categories. So the new classification system is (women, men) and independently (straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual). But each of these categories still admits stereotypes. So for example an effeminate man who is never the less straight is still treated as a deviant. Straight men are also expected to be unable to identify men who are good looking. Other examples would be:

    A teenage girl into programming, a thirty year old who enjoys skipping, an eight year old who enjoys reading biology textbooks.

    I think you were saying also that any groupings we use should be largely self defining. I also agree with this.

    On your last question I think people create their categories to make it easier to deal with the world. And people fall into such categories through social pressure. The media certainly have a big role in creating this pressure. Perhaps if we see a decentralising of the media these categories too shall relax somewhat…

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