Femininity and the pitfalls of biology and culture!
In 1935, a book entitled “Sex and temperament in three primitive societies” was published in the United States. It is the work of Margaret Mead, one of the most respected anthropologists today and one of the people who marked the thought of the 1965th century, especially the relations between women and men and the feminist movement. Translated into French in XNUMX under the title “Mœurs et sexualité en Océanie”, its author tends to show that the differences in temperament between men and women are not a function of their biological differences but on the contrary of differences in their respective socialization process. . Margaret Mead relies on her work as an anthropologist in three Samoan societies to justify her position.
It shows that in each of these societies the character traits that differentiate men from women are not identical. In one of them, the Chambuli society, she observes feminine and masculine temperaments that are the complete opposite of those of Western culture: the men there are emotional and sentimental while the women there are active and practical. She deduces that femininity is the embodiment of cultural values specific to each society. Every society therefore has a system of values defining femininity. It is the embodiment of these values in the behavior of Chambuli women that makes them feminine, in their eyes as well as in those of the men of this society. The Chambuli man appreciates an active and practical woman while the Chambuli woman appreciates an emotional and sentimental man. These are the traits that define femininity and masculinity in the Chambuli culture.
This is one way of answering the question of whether femininity is primarily defined by culture or whether it is the consequence of a biological condition. Is femininity a cultural artifice or on the contrary a natural differentiation? This brings us back to the recurring questioning of the nature/culture dilemma.
Contrary to the position defended by Margaret Mead for whom femininity is culturally determined, one can argue that femininity is determined by the biological characteristics of women. Woman is different from man because nature has made her the sex that gives birth while nature has made man the sex that fertilizes. This is not to say or even suggest that all sexual interaction is procreative. It is simply what differentiates a woman from a man. This difference at the most fundamental level is that the woman carries the child while the man does not.
In a sexed species like ours, being female or male is a given of reality. This approach is often attacked frontally by insisting that the woman is not just a “uterus”. It is obvious that this procreative function is not what defines a woman, but does not everything that defines her apart from her role in the process of procreation in fact define her not as a woman but as what to be human? This is where all the difference lies: being male or female is a biological fact, being female is both a societal and personal choice. I feel that it is by recognizing this difference between “feminine” and “femininity” that a woman can better live her femininity, find her balance and her well-being.
Femininity and social diktat
For this I think it is important to realize that being feminine is a choice. A choice to be made knowingly because it is a choice that is not only personal but also, as Margaret Mead has shown, supported by the society from which we come and of which we are a part. It is therefore important to make this choice in full awareness, particularly in relation to the criteria, values and expectations of the society to which we belong. From our adolescence then throughout our life as a woman, whether we like it or not, we have to make choices which in one way or another engages, builds or destroys our femininity. We integrate without difficulty some of the social criteria defining our femininity while others, on the contrary, pose problems for us.
Thus in our type of society, where male domination is rife, a woman has every reason to feel that the criteria defining femininity are in fact imposed on her precisely through this male domination. She may then be led to reject outright the very notion of femininity at the risk of denying part of what constitutes her as an individual in the depths of herself. This can go so far as to take the very notion of femininity as an insult. An attitude that can cause deep discomfort and many distractions. Similarly, the omnipresent image from the press to the walls of our cities of a stereotype of woman who assails us all day long and who can only deeply disturb and frustrate us if we have any desire whatsoever to Integrating personally and being inspired by it is not there more to lead us to integrate our femininity and to live it serenely. The biggest risk is then not to love oneself which will cause many sufferings, the most probable being a withdrawal into oneself and a great difficulty in communicating with others.
In relation to this male domination of society there is feminism and its history. It is a path that often takes on a militant aspect. In such a context it does not necessarily lead to harmony, serenity and fulfillment. How many women have lost themselves trying to prove throughout their lives that they were equal to men? The woman is not the deformed or badly formed image of a man: a woman is a complete being in herself who has everything to reach plenitude. A woman who wants to prove and prove to herself that she is the equal of a man risks doing so at the cost of rejecting her feminine condition and her femininity. So how do you avoid being frustrated and resentful of men. A path that has every chance of making her lose her sensuality.
Find and choose your femininity
It takes a lot of courage and determination to break free from such constraints. It is not so much a question of despising them but much more of not allowing oneself to be deceived by them and of managing to use them as an instrument rather than being their toy. An instrument that can help us not only to build ourselves but also to find ourselves, embrace, savor and love being a woman, fully living our femininity!
Having a mother who gives you advice on how to do your hair, dress yourself, and why not for the start of make-up even before you reach adolescence, and who herself has all these skills, applies them and practices them in harmony on a daily basis, is not this is not the royal road to transmission from one generation to another of a femininity that gives strength and assurance and can only radiate. An older sister, a childhood friend can be valuable resources.
How our relationship to femininity can be built through the women around us and whom we esteem! It will be by example, thanks to a remark, through the exchange, so many signs that will guide us. It is from this circle of women made up of complicity, benevolence and trust that we can find advice and why not criticism. It is through them that we may have the chance to find the strength to dare and to express desires that resonate within us but which, for lack of assurance, we censor. These are privileged situations that can only contribute to our growth and influence.
"When I'm in love and desired, then I no longer doubt my femininity, it gives me wings." To feel one, whole, loved and desired in the gaze of the other, can there be a stronger indicator of our femininity? This is certainly her privileged moment, the moment when our whole being vibrates, when every feeling is in harmony with every gesture and when our femininity can be fully expressed in all the registers that compose it. In love and desired, we feel recognized by the other in all that we are, in our physical and psychological specificity.