The F Word

I remember playing around with my friends as a child. We’d spend hours running around and play fighting with each other. It wasn’t a rare occurrence for me to hear remarks such as, “You play like a girl!” or “You hit like a girl!”. As I grew up, I still heard those words, albeit in a different phrasing. “You do this so well for a girl” or “You’re not like other girls” would be dished out as compliments.

As a young woman, I’d often feel conflicted about hearing comments such as this. Sexist remarks in disguise of compliments were so normalized that I felt like I should accept them and be grateful. It made it seem like I was meant to be flattered while being subtly insulted in regards to my femininity. This is one of the reasons why I often struggled to come to terms with femininity.

Photo by Katherine Hanlon

 

Being feminine is often attributed to certain traits such as weakness, sensitivity and physical appearance, among many others. Certain objects and activities would be assigned as being girly or feminine, and later on be negatively positioned because of being “too feminine”. Pink is too girly. Makeup is too girly. Dressing up and wearing heels is too girly. It can make us feel like we should reject these things to be accepted and taken seriously.

Gendered assumptions such as these are often wrong and deserved to be challenged, especially in a patriarchal society that undermines the feminine and the female. In recent years, I’ve come to terms with a personal realization; we can define our femininity. We don’t have to subscribe to socially constructed ideals of what being a female should be.

 

Photo by Drop the Label Movement

 

Being female or feminine isn’t a bad thing at all. We can like pink and still be strong. We can wear makeup and still be smart. We can dress up and wear high heels, and still be tough. We can be emotionally sensitive and still be rational. We can be feminine and still be feminists. We can choose whatever we want to be. Being more feminine won’t take away who we are inside. It certainly is nothing to be ashamed of. Embrace the things that make you who you are and, if being feminine is part of that, do you!

Photo by Brianna Santellan