There are a few aspects of what others might call “traditional” femininity that I actually disagree with. While I advocate for women to be more feminine in dress and disposition, and value femininity, there is a certain population of men and women who feel that this means a women can only take on the role of traditional wife and mother, and be dependent and childlike. Even though I feel society unjustly looks down on traditional homemakers, and liberal feminists want to “liberate” them, and I have great respect for women taking on such a feminine role, I feel there is room for women who have careers outside the home to be considered Ladies of Reason as well. Traditional femininity has great merits in my mind, merits such as a lost sense of elegance and grace befitting a woman, and a desire to embrace one’s womanhood apart from trying to imitate men to feel “liberated”. For me, traditional femininity, and embracing one’s feminine side is an expression of pride in one’s womanhood and asserting that a feminine nature is just as valid as that of a man’s nature.
However, some believe that traits such as weakness and dependency as well as irrational hysterics are part of being a “real” woman, and being a man means having an analytical and rational mind and doing more intellectual pursuits and self-advocacy. I digress. I think it is actually sexist to assert that a more independent and intellectual woman in a career is compromising her womanhood and is more “masculine”. Usually, this is looked at as a good thing to the radical feminists in society, but in the context of women being more like men to be “equal”. My premise is, who says that self advocacy and an intellectual mind is owned by the male sex? Why can’t all of humanity share beneficial traits that transcend gender? It is true that men and women are separate in nature, and that women, more than men, have a more developed emotional side overall, but I’d say that it is beneficial for neither sex to give way to complete histrionics! Men can have more traditionally feminine sides to their personality and women can adopt more masculine traits, as long as both sides don’t go to extremes and force themselves to be genderless! Why this isn’t mutually exclusive for someone who advocates traditional femininity over society’s version of “gender neutral”, is that I believe that traits such as logic, intellectualism, self-advocacy, proactiveness, should not be considered as being “owned” by the male sex, nor traits such as a softer side and emotions, solely belong to the female sex. All these traits can transcend gender and simply be part of being a multidimensional human being. What is truly “sexist” is saying that men posses what secular people value most: an intellectual mind, and that women compromise their femininity for having one, not that women should embrace their differences from men. I myself greatly value intellectual discourse and ideas, and I also consider myself very analytically minded and not as sentimental and emotional in my decision making. I feel this does not compromise my femininity and desire to pursue a conservative viewpoint. Men do not “own” all the traits needed to be a rational human being. They’re for everyone to express.
Women in careers can be feminine and lady like, but also self advocates and deep thinkers. The two in my opinion are not mutually exclusive. Ladies of Reason need not be “damsels in distress”, the perpetual victim in life. Indeed, we can think deeply, speak our minds, take responsibility for our choices, advocate for our own interests and pursue interests that make us unique, and also embrace how we are different from the male sex, and be ladylike in dress and actions. Our problem is when we as women, decide that vulgarity and immodesty make us a man’s “equal”, and degrade the feminine grace and elegance ladies of past eras have shown. My ability to be self advocating, independent, and intellectual does not conflict with my convictions for modest feminine dress or behavior. My passion for science does not make me a man. We can be as human as everyone else is, and be “Ladies”. That is reflected in this blog’s very name. We are “Ladies of Reason”.
(This is a picture of Marie Curie, a famous female scientist! Did she not express femininity as well as intellect? She did not have to “liberate” herself though provocative dress or being masculinized. Even though she fought in a world that told her she could not be intellectual, she was not compelled to put on a suit to do so!)