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The Privilege of Femininity

by Jackie Alvarez

we love

August 1, 2014

The Privilege of Femininity


For the Summer 2014 issue of Hello, Darling, we dug deep, soul-deep, into what it means to be a woman. We did our best to cover the beautiful, the unsightly and the complicated. But there was so much more than we could put on paper. We’re dedicating the next two months on the blog to talking about femininity more comprehensively. This month we’re talking about what it means to be a woman in the context of marriage and sex. We have the entire month planned to cover the deep and meaningful, as well as the saucy and playful. 

To set the tone, we wanted to republish the piece that introduces the “Privilege of Femininity” in the magazine. We look forward to journeying together.

Privilege of Feminity

We learned to define femininity for ourselves largely by accident. As girls, the women around us imparted what it meant to be a woman. They modeled how women should look, what we should say, how we should conduct ourselves with men, how we should to relate to other women and what career paths we should take. That list could be infinite and becomes even more complicated when we add the messages that are ingrained from men. What it becomes is an f-word.

That f-word that no one wants to say, similar to “panties” or “moist.” That f-word that no one wants to be labeled, along the same lines as “high-maintenance” or “emotional.” That f-word that is related to a civil rights movement that feels in the distant past and is yet unsettled. That f-word that defines a generation of ladies whose virtue was defined by pearls and heels and who still get ready for the day at a vanity.

And yet, it is none of those things. (Well, maybe a little bit of the last one.) 

Whether the transaction was intended or not, we gleaned from those who have gone before us. We gleaned what we should do. That word: should. It’s quintessentially female, and inherently carries baggage — lots of baggage. We should be skinnier. We should be healthier. We should want to have sex more often with our husbands. We should make more homemade meals. Then it continues with the shouldn’ts. We shouldn’t be so emotional. We shouldn’t be so high-maintenance. We shouldn’t be so much to handle. These lists could be infinite too. 

In response, we women shrink. We don’t want to be labeled as too much, so we hold back. We curb our emotions. We pretend we don’t care about “girly” things. We don’t let ourselves hurt or love as deeply. All this muting does is confuse our identity. And then suddenly we’ve lost what it means to be a woman. 

Maybe it is time to reclaim this f-word. To give it a new ability to fill expanses with wholeness and restoration. 

Because the true gift of femininity is that it imparts freedom. The freedom to figure out what it means for each of us individually. The freedom to embrace a fuller understanding of the creative and resilient power inherent in our gifts as women. The freedom to know that femininity looks different on everybody and that it is good. And holy and beautiful. Femininity is a privilege to be shared.


 




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When do you feel the most feminine?

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Feminity or femininity noticed it spelled both ways. "In response, we women shrink. We don’t want to be labeled as too much, so we hold back. We curb our emotions. We pretend we don’t care about “girly” things. We don’t let ourselves hurt or love as deeply. All this muting does is confuse our identity. " I guess I do not hold back but have never really felt told/pressured to either. The funny thing is I am naturally not a girly girl. I played barbies and dress up as a girl, but I do not wear make up because it just isn't 'me' I like wearing dresses to something fancy but do not feel like it is a need in my life. I am super emotional. I love holding my kids in my arms and the feeling of being their mom. We are all unique and I think that is what makes defining feminine and masculine so impossible. If you say well you are not feminine that in itself is damaging to young women who do not fit these silly molds that we create. My daughter will see how I am but she may li

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like different things and that is totally ok. All of the women in my life wear/wore make up as I grew up, for example.

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Isn't that funny that femininity is defined in culture, to a certain extent, by the outside layer - clothing, makeup, hairstyle. When I think of feminine grace, I picture Jackie O. Is it her fashion I admire, or her poise, or perhaps both? I grew up a tomboy and even in a little black dress with red lipstick and a fancy 'do, deep down I am still the girl who likes to catch frogs and bugs and play with snakes. Does that make me any less feminine?

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When I embrace the wonder and rawness of it! In Galations 3:28, it says, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." And yet I believe the enemy wants to do everything he can (to those in the church and outside it) to oppress and even attempt to destroy these groups of people (women, the Jews, and those enslaved). As a women, I am seeking the Lord's truth, and paridime shift to embrace the privledge, awe, wonder, responsibility, and joy of being a woman and hoping to pass that on to my daughter.

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It is a privilege, Rebecca, to be a woman! And what an awesome responsibility to pass that privilege along to our daughters and to teach our sons to respect it.

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I feel most feminine after a long bath, a pedicure, with shaved legs and blown out hair. There's something about feeling squeaky clean and emphasizing all the intricate details of your body that screams femininity.

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I love the girly details, too, Brooke. Many days I pull my hair into a ponytail and eschew makeup entirely, but I do love to go for glam from time to time and remember what my face/hair/body is capable of, if I have the time and motivation to go for it.

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I feel the most feminine either when I am dressed to the nines for an all too rare date with my handsome husband (I have a new little black dress that even impresses me!) and also when I am snuggling with my kids at bedtime. Nobody else gets to go out for a hot date with my high school sweetheart but me, and nobody else gets the privilege of snuggling with my little people at the end of the day but my husband and me.

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