Intellectual integrity and femininity can stay in the same lane. And shall stay one in the same.
Let’s start with the definition of femininity.
Femininity - the quality of being female; womanliness.
Once upon a time, I was that girl. Excuse me, became that girl. Growing up, I was all sorts of “girl,” because, luckily, I had parents that let me express myself how I pleased. At any rate, I went through the “tomboy” stage, the “girly” phase and plenty of the others ( yes there are others). But, by that girl, I mean the girl who prided herself on her lack of outward sexuality, and rather my internal intelligence. Rather, looked at women who were extenuated in their sexuality, as non-feminists. We all go through it. That or our mothers help us to that point of disdaining other females for dressing or looking a certain way; provocative, if you will. In a society that has objectified women for centuries, I couldn’t understand why we would want to objectify ourselves.
Through college, however, the steady and rapid evolution as many of us 20-somethings go through, helped shape my thought process. It wasn’t objectifying anymore, but a stimulating empowerment that creates senses of the self. To venturing on your own terms and expressing ones body within the meanings of your own individual life. Whatever that might be. And I do mean this in every sense. From what you wear to work, the way you wear your make-up when going out, and in the bedroom.
Which brings me back to the definition of femininity – “womanliness.” By association, unfortunately, this is socially constructed to instantly mean makeup, heels, dresses – the works. Yet, by claiming back our own femininity, individually and socially, this definition should not inherently be associated to those material things.
Every cis-gendered female and transgendered female’s definition of “womanliness” should and shall be different. Where one finds comfort and empowerment in heels and makeup, the other may not. Where one finds sneakers and the ditching of shaving liberating, the other will not.
We need to learn that this is okay.
We, as females, internalize misogyny by not changing the definition to be our own. By condemning other women for not having the same definition as our self.
Yes, I do believe that there are still women who do certain things that are, essentially, just attention seeking. But, so do men. And, so do children. And so do all of us at some point. Yet, by labeling, and for lack of better words, “whore” or “sluts,” is as insulting to the rest of us with different definitions as it is to those who are deemed those names.
When I see the comfort-ability a woman has with her body and/or exterior self, I see vulnerability, honesty, rawness and so much integrity. All in all - courage.
Whereas the year is 2017, and the means of expression are endless. The way you express yourself matters, just as much as you express love or disdain to the next. We are in the age of social media, women marches and the opportunity for self-portraying platforms. I think it’s important to keep not only an open mind but the path that is created for those of us growing through different stages, struggles, and suffering of the female body, open.
What your own sexuality means to yourself is as important as your intelligence. To put shame and grievances on other women in their form of womanliness does not make one better than the other.
One of my favorite writers, James Baldwin, and many that followed after him, are famous for insinuating that what you see in others is what you see in yourself. I think this rings true in this aspect of women and our culture as it grows today.
Besides, what’s more powerful than a woman who owns not only her femininity and sexuality, but her integral intelligence?