This is Lara Croft. To most, she is the perfect fantasy for young men of the digital generation. She’s presented as a tough and aggressive woman who still manages to look sexy despite the predicaments she finds herself in. Ideally, she reflects a typical heterosexual man’s perspective on what feminism should look like (Henslin 2011).
Lara Croft isn’t the only example of this feminist mold, and it’s great that women are finally being perceived as physically capable of being as strong as a man, but why is the perspective one-sided?
Things to consider:
1: Tough and Sexy? Why does she have to be tough and sexy? Does our society value a woman based on her abilities, or her looks. Yes, our society cares more about what a woman looks like than we do her talent. A good example lies within our recent Olympic Games. People were more concerned with Gabby Douglas’ hair style than they were with her performance. Another columnist was more concerned with how the women in the Olympics were “too muscly” and “too flat-chested”, saying that “womanhood was dying in the Olympics.” Obviously we are too concerned with how sexual a woman is and don’t stop to appreciate how strong they can be.
2: Why is the gender role adoption one-sided? We see women adopting masculine traits, but why aren’t more men adopting feminine traits? Being feminine is associated with being meek and delicate, while being masculine is associated with being tough and powerful. Stop yourself for a second and separate feminine from female, because being a female doesn’t mean you inherit the feminine gender roles; Also separate male from masculine, because you don’t inherit masculine roles just because you’re a male. Gender roles are CHOSEN. You choose to be masculine, just like you choose to be feminine, and you chose certain areas where you’re more of one than the other. Now, go back to that question:
We see women adopting masculine traits, but why aren’t more men adopting feminine traits? Delicate, soft, tender, gentle…these are all words associated with femininity. Why is being feminine such a bad thing? Because it is associated with being a woman, and people in general would rather intimate what they think is powerful rather than weakness. What society doesn’t realize is that femininity is just as powerful as masculinity. In reality, we default to masculinity because we associate it with maleness; and the more you pass as male, the more privilege you can grasp. And before you go denying your privilege, click this.
3: How do we collectively institutionalize the association that women are the weaker and lesser sex? Well, lets examine how we insult people. What’s the worst word you can think of to call a woman? How about slut, whore, bitch, or cunt? What’s the worst thing you can call a man? You’ll probably call him a girly man, bitch, or a pussy. Notice anything? The most insulting thing to be is a woman (Jessica Valenti). Can someone explain to me what is so bad about being a woman or choosing to be feminine? Don’t be blind; this is far from a joke among friends.
Personally, I find power in being feminine. I choose to be feminine, and I can just as easily choose to be masculine. Here’s another thing associated with femininity: being vocal. I was told that I was weak because it’s impossible for me to lift 200 pounds. Well, for one it’s not impossible, because if I weight-trained I could eventually do such a thing. In all seriousness though, I think being able to brag about how much weight you can lift is pretty useless. Being vocal, however, is pretty powerful. Those who exercise that “feminine” trait happen to talk on average 7000 more words than those who don’t. Think about how powerful being a “chatter-box” can be. I want to revolutionize sex education. I want people to open their eyes and see the inequality that exist in our society. I’m very vocal about it, and the people who listen to me and agree seem to fuel themselves with passion. I also piss ignorant people off with my words, which is quite fun, to be honest. Being vocal is a feminine gender role, and it seems to be far more powerful than lifting weights.
So people, don’t be afraid to be feminine. It’s an equally competent gender role.