Friday, April 27, 2012

Too Feminine?

In his parenting manual, Emile, the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that men and women are made differently and therefore require different types of upbringing. He espoused what today many people call a ‘complimentarian’ view of gender, which refers to the idea that the differences between men and women compliment and enhance each other.

Rousseau’s representation of gender falls along the typical polarities, with man being active and woman being passive; man being strong, woman being weak; man being bold, woman being bashful and reserved, etc. While some of Rousseau’s distinctions are exaggerated and stereotypical, we must give him credit for understanding an important point: men and women are different. As he put it, “where sex is concerned man and woman are unlike; each is the complement of the other…”

Many female thinkers in the 18th and 19th century accepted this complimentarian framework, even while offering appropriate challenges to our picture of what constituted ‘feminine’ attributes. Female writers see themselves defending their sex precisely through maintaining gender distinctions. For example, the Victorian writer Elizabeth Wordsworth once noted that “In an ideal state of society we never lose sight of the womanliness of women…why should it be considered a compliment to any woman to be told she writes, paints, sings, talks, or even thinks, like a man?”

Enter 20th century feminism. Now feminist writers see themselves as defending women through attempting to do away with the gender divide. The womanliness of women is no longer a fit object for praise; but neither is it uplifting to explicitly praise women for being like men. Rather, under the feminist androgyny and egalitarianism of the 20th century, the greatest gift we can give to women is by questioning the very category of masculine and feminine.

Zooey Deschanel. Too Feminine?
Under the canopy of the new stereotype of gender neutrality, the greatest censure comes against women who are too womanly. Just look at all the nasty things that Third Wave feminists have said against actress and musician Zooey Deschanel for being too feminine.

Zooey is a bad example for young women, feminists argue, because she is too “girly”, thus solidifying the impression that women are more attractive to men when they embody girly characteristics. The icing on the cake was when Zooey announced in Twitter that she enjoys baking and board games. Ugg - how feminine!

One of the reasons Zooey is criticized so heavily is because she allegedly conforms to gender stereotypes. But the real problem is that she is unusual among contemporary actresses in that she does not conform to the new stereotype of gender neutrality.

This increasingly pervasive stereotype of gender neutrality often hinges on bogus science combined with fanciful anthropology, both of which asserts that there is not a necessary relation between our gender identity (i.e., being feminine or masculine, and everything that this might entail within a given cultural context) and the fixities of our biological sex. This idea is enshrined in countless sociology and women’s studies courses at colleges, in which students are taught that there is no necessary relation between one’s biological sex and one’s gender. Gender is simply a social construction. Given this, the argument goes that we can and should be de-gendered, as we break free from society’s mold. The problem is the new mold of gender neutrality is every bit as stifling, oppressive and stereotypical.

Further Reading

"voluntary elimination of gender in the human species"

This post at the Salvo blog gives a brief introduction to ‘Postgenderism’, a radical social theory affirming that the elimination of gender from the human race is not only possible, but desirable.

This article from Salvo Magazine humorously explores the absurdities in the theory that gender is not fixed but fluid and potentially changing. 

In this video, talk show host Michael Coren discusses the dangers involved in parents attempting to raise children in a gender neutral environment.

Schools Encourage Cross-dressing and Gender Confusion

This article at the Salvo blog shows that the experiment of gender neutrality in the classroom is not limited to Sweden, but has infected even the schools of Great Britain.

This article at the Salvo blog explores the way pregnancy is the final frontier to conquer before the gender-free utopia can be ushered in.

This is another article from the Salvo blog about schools that are attempting to eradicate gender from the classroom.

How Gay 'Marriage' Became Plausible

In this article I argued that the homogenization of the gender polarity created plausibility structures in which the notion of gay ‘marriage’ began to make sense.

·         Gender, Morality and Modesty

In this six-part series, I argue that the reductionism of gender and sexuality wrought by the materialistic worldview has resulted in the neutralization of gender and, consequentially, a new network of sexual taboos and repressions.


Luke said...

One of my favorites from C.S. Lewis: "A great many of those who 'debunk' traditional values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process."

Karen said...

Traditional femininity makes women cowardly, dimwitted and weak and then praises them for it. Taking pleasure in the exercise of a skill like baking isn't the problem with Zooey Deschanel; it's that every single part she's ever played is a complete ditz. When you find a way to make competence "feminine," call me.

Lisa said...

I only know of Zooey Deschanel because of coming across photos of her on various news media sites. What stood out immediately to me was how nice and girlish she appeared...rather than hard and agressively sexual. There's room enough in the world for both male and female characters to be portrayed as goofy or silly. And a woman portrayed as sweet rather than manipulative, is a nice change.

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