A Powerful and Feminine Woman - Is it Possible?
Our notions of what it means to be feminine and what it means to be powerful have changed over the years. Is it possible to be feminine and powerful at the same time? Do modern notions of what it means to be a woman mean that women can no longer be beautiful and graceful?
What does it mean to be a powerful woman? What does it mean to be feminine? The definitions of these words have changed drastically over time, especially in the nearly fifty years since the 1963 publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. That book, and the subsequent second-wave feminist movement it gave rise to, focused on overcoming legal boundaries to women's equality. Is it possible to be a powerful and feminine woman at the same time after the feminist movement of the 60s, 70s, and today?
Aspects of Feminine Power
- The ability to take on any task she wants, including work traditionally done by men.
- The choice to overcome traditional notions of gender.
- The ability to move back and forth between traditional femininity and perceived masculinity.
- Desire to be challenging to men, especially their ideas of what a good woman should be.
Aspects of Femininity:
How to Combine Traditional Femininity with Feminine Power
The answers to the question "Is it possible to be both a powerful and feminine woman?" are complicated. A woman can be so sexy that she is seen by men (and even other women) as weak, ineffectual, and anything but powerful. In today's world, thanks to the second- and third-wave feminist movements of the past fifty years, we see examples of feminine power combined with traditional female traits all the time. From the soft beauty and powerful positions of Michelle Obama to the ability of traditionally beautiful females to take on heavy concepts, like Jenny McCarthy's attack on the world of vaccines.
Tips on Combining Feminine Power with Traditional Femininity
- Remember that there is no weakness in embracing traditional notions of what it is to be female. A woman's beauty does not mean she can't become a stockbroker any more than a man's more crude appearance should keep him from teaching in elementary schools. As women move into traditionally male roles, we see men taking over jobs normally assigned to women. House-husbands are as common today as female construction workers.
- Use your femininity to assert yourself into situations where a woman's beauty or grace would normally be a detriment. If you are a woman and you find yourself dealing with a hostile car repair tech or town hall bureaucrat, there's nothing wrong with going the Erin Brockovich route. Showing some skin, flirting innocently, or even flipping your hair a certain way to get your foot in the door is what third-wave feminism is all about.
- A powerful woman no longer has to imitate Rosie the Riveter, her sleeves pushed up, biceps displayed, and sweat on her brow. Powerful women have the choice to remain feminine, soft, gentle, calm, and all the other aspects of pure femininity that set women apart from men. At the same time, should a woman choose, she can gender herself as a man. In many situations, such as an application for a job traditionally held by men, emphasizing her more masculine qualities could help a woman get the job or at least get the interview she needs to start the process.
Women no longer have a choice between two worlds: the soft feminine world and the powerful masculine one. Today's powerful and feminine women exist in a way that was unthinkable sixty years ago. So, going back to the question of can a woman be powerful and feminine at the same time? In today’s world, that answer is a “yes,” it is possible for a feminine woman to be powerful and for a powerful woman to exhibit feminine qualities.
2011 Moira G Gallaga©
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