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Thread: The Attack on 'stereotypical' Femininity

  1. #1

    Default The Attack on 'stereotypical' Femininity

    Though this thread very much mostly is, "what are your thoughts about this rant of mine?" I really encourage people to discuss this, and perhaps challenge my way of thinking. I'm not trying to just get my opinion repeated at me, though if you agree feel free to show your support.

    So, ADISC.. I'm frustrated. I feel like I'm living in a world that is become so focused with the idea of encouraging young girls, not boys, to move out of their box and embrace things not "stereotypical of females" that we have started demeaning and finding these qualities lesser, something bad.. something to be ashamed of.

    I see signs of this all around, in almost every medium. Parents posting how much their little girl, 'doesn't like princesses, she likes super heroes and lizards look how amazingly contrary she is'. I see those posts get so many people talking about how amazing parents they are, and how this little girl is so special and wonderful. Posts involving any little girl that at a glance seems to conform to the perceived gender roles of her age however are usually at the best ignored, at worst insulted and treated as if the parents shouldn't be forcing their child in a box. Your little girl shouldn't have to like princesses and fairies you know? Why not give your some lego's?

    It doesn't occur to them that she should just be who she wants to be, and if wants to like princesses then that should be okay too! That she's just as special of a human being and should be given the same praise.. instead of living in a world where only the tomboys get that kind of recognition.

    It's not just children too. As you get older, if you are born and to a lesser extent identify as being female you are expected to not be in that box. The best way I know how to explain this is to actually attack characters in any media, video games.. movies, and the etc.

    We are living in an age where women are speaking up about being tied down in these roles, but the way they choose to do it is by attacking the roles themselves, as if for some reason they are by default negative which I feel is creating a world where it's a bad thing to be 'feminine'. There is a big backlash that I notice on the character Princess Peach from Mario for instance.

    The specific things that Princess Peach are often treated as sexist, she is a girl therefore she wears pink right? She is a girl therefore she is emotional right? People don't stop for a moment to realize that Nintendo even in Mario's world don't portray women like that. Not all female characters Nintendo owns run around only in pinks, not all female characters in Mario's world have such a strong focus on emotions. So they don't stop for a moment to think, perhaps this is just how PRINCESS PEACH is. So I see it as attacking a character that chooses to wear pink and is emotional, the type of character who would see two people fighting and perhaps try to stop the fight with a cup of tea and a smile. She is just that type of character and there is nothing wrong with these traits. It sickens me that we live in a world where such traits are attacked in the name of fighting sexism. If anything it's fighting sexism with more hate, hate for an entire way of being that I very much identify with. Hate for being sensitive, soft, kind, pacifistic, sweet, caring, and gawsh.. caring about how you look and what people think of you. Those aren't outright negative traits, just like any other traits in the world. They certainly have their negative aspects, but so does every way of being in the whole wide world.

    This is the kind of thing I'm talking about and for the sake of time (both yours and mine) it's everywhere.. not just with this character. A certain type of character, a certain type of person, a certain type of way to be is just outright dying because anyone who has these traits is growing up in a world where they are told they are bad or at the very least shown in every way that moving out of that box should be an necessity, something to be expected rather then just encouraging the person to be whoever they are without worrying about the boxes at all. So much so that I honestly believe this is the reason it's more okay for a biological girl to be transgender then a biological boy. We still view breaking feminine gender roles as moving up, but embracing them is always considered a bad thing.

    I really hope more people become aware of this. I know that fighting sexism is a fight that I believe we should be doing, I know that this is important.. and everything I am is that a person should be the person they want to be. Right now though, I think we are just living in a world where as a female it's only okay to be as masculine as you can be while still looking pretty. :|

    Do you agree that we live in a world where the stereotypical idea of femininity is discouraged and attacked? Do you believe that this is alright in the name of fighting sexism? Do you disagree with any of the points I made?

  2. #2

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    I... phew, whut? Mind blown... ^_-

    Well I don't know to be honest. Only at first... I have to say that this typical choice for being not stereotypical feminine is already stereotypical by itself.
    Surely in our modern age it's still kinda common to actually force little girls for the unconventional, decision very often, i.e. "don't you rather want to play with the red firetruck instead of your baby doll?". Although this statement is already stereotypical... I mean not all people tick that way. It surely still happens a lot, but I think parents are giving a more freely based choice.
    Especially the father will always see his daughter as his little princess, I think. No way around that, they want to protect them, so raising them as a "boy" is uncommon.
    And as a side note, being boyish ain't that special... I think being unique would rather be to play with firetrucks and put them into cute little dresses and sing them lullabies! That would be amazing, in my discretion.
    And furthermore, in my humble opinion forcing anything is wrong, you might cause much harm this way, even cause a trauma from your children as how they not are.

    Regarding social media... I guess in our head is still the old "good girls go to heaven and bad girls go everywhere" stuck.
    Though I can't deny it on the other hand, as a woman with a masculine behaviour you can climb any ladder of success quite well, since our world is manly...
    And on the other hand there are those which tend to be bitchy, social butterflies. Liked, loved and of course girlish to some part, but well... in the uptight way.
    But this only goes for some, it depends on you. Being rather oldfashioned girlish also works, you just need to know how. Manipulating, charming, forcing a direction subtle. This knowledge seems to have gotten lost in my opinion too much. Behind every great man there's a great woman. also falls into this category.
    So from this point I agree with you... the idea is discouraged.

    However I think times are changing already; is nearly every woman that way? Perhaps as a dumb example, think about the old Lara Croft and the Reboot of her. The old one from the 90's, strong, basically a hardass with a D cup, i.e. a men with the body of a woman, more or less, so a action hero(ine). What about the new one from '13? She's still a badass, sure it's a heroine, but she's crying, worries and is struggling in an unmanly way.
    Can't think of any movie right now... uhm and no Twillight comparison please... that's too much ^_-.

    Anyway, I think just be how you want to be, screw someone's opinion that being stereotypical is wrong perhaps, old fashioned or whatever and in reverse that being rather masculine is maybe strange. We're individuals and everyone is different and anyone hating on this is also confirming a typical cliché.
    Heck, if I would have a daughter and she wants to play with dolls is fine, it's also fine if she'd rather like to play with toy guns... though I'd probably encourage her to read a lot... okay my way. And if she would like to play with mud covored barbies in pretty dresses with pink love guns in the attack of the dinosaurs, it's also fine.

  3. #3

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    You cover many points to consider gigglemuffinz...

    I am seeing a dichotomy of sorts in that portraying feminine roles or personifications considered primarily as the binary form of female...is being seen as misogynistic...

    ...and I understand how it can be seen in that light... and how the misandrist aspect is seldom heard of...

    A mtf, for instance...while loving and desiring to be the empathetical 'girl' / female role...is also in ways enforcing the binary social-coding, and can be seen either as a mockery (protest), or as further entrenchment of the stereotyping...if I understand you correctly, then I am in agreement with you on the lack of balance that seems demonstrated for the 'boy'/ male roles too...

    I'm at odds with this conundrum of these issues...I do very much love and respect the 'classic' female, yet I also am very much in favor of dissolving much of the binary-gender roles...and the subsequent 'sexism'... I do like pink very much, but what does that mean?? If I wear it, I am seen as feminine ...which I embrace, but what am I contributing to?

    I don't know if I came anywhere close to answering your questions gigglemuffinz... to iterate...I think "The Attack on 'stereotypical' Femininity" should be joined with an equal attack on 'stereotypical' Masculinity too...

    Perhaps it should just be a free-choice...for any range of female or male, or combination thereof..???

    Perhaps too...us breaking the conformity by using the 'normal' binary associations...quite as we please..may just be what frees the associations for more general use??

    -Marka

  4. #4

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    There's a related point here, too, that proves the sexism of modern roles. You discussed how parents of girls are proud of their daughters showing boy-ish traits, but not feminine ones. Consider the parents of boys. Ever seen a proud parent showing pictures of their little boy playing with dolls? Posting about their son wanting to be a little ballerina? No, because someone would think of the boy as a "sissy" or possibly even criticize the parents for allowing it. Again, as you said, the implied idea that femininity (in the stereotypical sense) is weak, or bad.

    I'm not sure if this is intentional sexism, as it was supposedly born out of a desire to take the perceived weakness out of being a girl. And nowadays, masculine and feminine roles are becoming less well-defined. But it's from the same ballpark as sexism: it's a statement that the way you are isn't good enough, that anther way is better, like it or not. If you'd rather play with dolls than trucks, you're worthy of contempt.

    Everyone does need to just get over their perceptions and accept that if one's interests aren't harmful to anyone, they're OK. Boys and girls can be hockey players. Boys and girls can be ballerinas. Difference isn't a big deal because our commonality is greater. One isn't better or stringer than the other.

    Thanks for the awesome discussion!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by gigglemuffinz View Post

    So, ADISC.. I'm frustrated. I feel like I'm living in a world that is become so focused with the idea of encouraging young girls, not boys, to move out of their box and embrace things not "stereotypical of females" that we have started demeaning and finding these qualities lesser, something bad.. something to be ashamed of.
    ...
    We are living in an age where women are speaking up about being tied down in these roles, but the way they choose to do it is by attacking the roles themselves, as if for some reason they are by default negative which I feel is creating a world where it's a bad thing to be 'feminine'....

    Do you agree that we live in a world where the stereotypical idea of femininity is discouraged and attacked? Do you believe that this is alright in the name of fighting sexism? Do you disagree with any of the points I made?
    I don't disagree with you, but I think I'd put a different emphasis and interpretation on it...

    The thing is that stereotypically feminine things have ALWAYS been demeaned and thought of as lesser by men and culture/society that has been controlled by men -
    it's not something has just started now, or since the coming of feminism. What is different is that some women have consciously rejected those devalued and restricted qualities and activities that constitute "femininity" in order that they can have access to... well just about anything other than "motherhood" that was really valued by society.

    I don't think professions, or crafts, or hobbies, or styles of dress or personal virtues should be restricted to one gender or another, or encouraged only for one gender - they should be open to anyone that wants them. They also shouldn't be package deals - just because you have a stereotypically feminine job, doesn't mean you can't have some stereotypically masculine hobbies or dress sense. I recognise however, that getting to that socially inclusive open society were all humans are able to flourish the best they can is going to be a bumpy road.

    I think you have one of the key points when you talk about women and girls having to break out the gender box, more than boys and men. In fact a man will generally be thought of as fantastically advanced and progressive (or alternatively "pussy-whipped" depending on the thinker) if he does 40% of the childcare and house work, and if you go to VERY feminist parts of the internet you'll see people cooing over the cute little boys with their baby dolls (not Action men or GI Joes)... but in general the focus is still on women to be breaking the gender barriers.
    I think this is partly because there is more stuff in the masculine gender box than there is in the feminine one - us men don't just have one colour that belongs to us in the same way that pink screams "Girl!" We have blue sure, but not everything blue is automatically for boys, in the same way that pink is for girls. A blue bike is just a bike, a pink bike is a girls' bike. Girls get Princesses, boys get Trains or Trucks or Dinosaurs...
    It's always princesses, and never Queens no, a Queen is just too much authority.. even in My Little Pony where the sun-god and supreme ruler of the world is called "Princess" Celestia. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is very interesting crack in the gender edifice because of the Brony subculture. MLP:FIM was the first experience many young men have had of a media product aimed at women and so strongly feminine in style that was actually good!
    Mostly though feminine things are not encouraged for men/boys because they wont get you fame, power and money, and those are indexes we use to judge success.

    The issue with female characters and whether or not the can be feminine without it being sexist reminds me of the Bill Cosby quote: "If a white man falls off a chair drunk, it's just a drunk. If a Negro does, it's the whole damn Negro race."
    I think there are two factors in the "Princess Peach" problem.
    1) It annoys people because it confirms the existing stereotype so it only re-enforces it and it's expectations on all members of the group.
    2) There still aren't an equal number of (real or fictional) women and men in the media - and even more so, there aren't equal numbers of men and women writers/producers/directors in the media. If there's only one female lead character in a show, then the way that one character is is the way women are in the world of that show. If there's a nerdy guy in the show, he's just the nerdy guy because there's probably three other guys with different models of masculinity that you can find categorised on TV Tropes

    I don't know how we can raise up femininity in the eyes of the world. However until we do, and until men and women have equal access to all things labelled "feminine" and "masculine" without being pushed into one or the other, then there's always going to be the uncomfortable question hanging over women who are very feminine and the ultra-macho boys: are you like that because that's what you REALLY want, or are you just conforming to a cultural stereotype?

  6. #6

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    As a brief thought, things are different here in the south. Feminism is still considered the sought after norm for girls. They have debutant balls, spinster balls, and all sorts of events that are strongly linked to the southern culture, where girls will become lovely young ladies. As one can imagine, young males are expected to identify with male gender roles. Exceptions can lead to bullying.

    I feel that everyone has a right to express themselves as to how they identify, without judgement and definitely without bullying. The U. S. is slowly changing, but we have a long, long way to go, especially in the south.

  7. #7

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    in life, gender is something we determine for ourselves. We are just players on Earth that that have various u=interests and advantages and disadvantages. it is understood where you come from, i'm a supporter.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by gigglemuffinz View Post
    So, ADISC.. I'm frustrated. I feel like I'm living in a world that is become so focused with the idea of encouraging young girls, not boys, to move out of their box and embrace things not "stereotypical of females" that we have started demeaning and finding these qualities lesser, something bad.. something to be ashamed of.
    At its heart, this is a feminist issue (or choose another word if 'feminism' turns your stomach). Because basically what's happening here is 'feminine', female, they're all 'weak', they're 'lesser' in society.

    Boys aren't being encouraged to move out of their gender 'box' because feminine things are 'lesser', it is the same reason 'boys' toys are considered unisex now and girls' toys are...girls' toys! How do we demean men we see as weak? He's being a sissy, he's being a girl. If someone needs to be tougher they need to 'man up', and 'grow some balls'. Women are seen as over-emotional and weak, and to be feminine is the ultimate insult among some men.

    Sadly, this is NOT a new phenomenon, it's just less overt and in a different form now! In the past the gender roles were stricter for girls and women too, so little girls were expected to want to play house and grow up to be Mommies, while boys played racecars and firemen and focused on the idea of becoming breadwinners as adults. The further back you go (that is, up until about the industrial revolution) the worse it is: there was a time in this country at least when girls were not even allowed to attend school, while boys were sent off to learn Latin and maths.


    We are living in an age where women are speaking up about being tied down in these roles, but the way they choose to do it is by attacking the roles themselves, as if for some reason they are by default negative which I feel is creating a world where it's a bad thing to be 'feminine'. There is a big backlash that I notice on the character Princess Peach from Mario for instance.

    The specific things that Princess Peach are often treated as sexist, she is a girl therefore she wears pink right? She is a girl therefore she is emotional right? People don't stop for a moment to realize that Nintendo even in Mario's world don't portray women like that. Not all female characters Nintendo owns run around only in pinks, not all female characters in Mario's world have such a strong focus on emotions. So they don't stop for a moment to think, perhaps this is just how PRINCESS PEACH is. So I see it as attacking a character that chooses to wear pink and is emotional, the type of character who would see two people fighting and perhaps try to stop the fight with a cup of tea and a smile. She is just that type of character and there is nothing wrong with these traits. It sickens me that we live in a world where such traits are attacked in the name of fighting sexism. If anything it's fighting sexism with more hate, hate for an entire way of being that I very much identify with. Hate for being sensitive, soft, kind, pacifistic, sweet, caring, and gawsh.. caring about how you look and what people think of you. Those aren't outright negative traits, just like any other traits in the world. They certainly have their negative aspects, but so does every way of being in the whole wide world.
    This is something that gets brought up a LOT: 'but there are really real people like that, why are you so negative about them!'... And it's true, there are girls who are pacifists, who love pink, who enjoy fashion and put a high priority on romance or raising a family or even on just having good, giggly fun. However. Princess Peach (or any other pink, stereotypically girly character) was created by a human being. She is not a person. Somebody made the choice to make Peach love pink and fashion and being sensitive.

    Girls are repeatedly shown as weaker in the media, as more passive. Girls are shown as being invested in romance, as being emotional. And definitely, girls are shown as caring about their appearance and fashion.

    This becomes a big problem when this is the only face women have in the world, and frankly, at the moment there are very FEW games with strong female protagonists. Peach is the 'token girl' in Mario's world, and she's pink and blonde and 'fashionable'.

    The point is, the problem is not so much that one girl in one game wears pink and likes boys and fashion... The problem is women aren't really portrayed widely enough in that kind of media for every portrayal to NOT make an impact. Have you seen the games marketed directly at young girls? Imagine Dream Wedding, Babysitting Mama, Disney Princess Enchanted Journey... 'For girls' is synonymous with pink and all things fashion-related, with weddings and babies and pretty pink princesses.

    So when they put another female character out there who is passive and weak and wears pink, another girl who is only there to play second fiddle or a romantic interest for the male leads... People aren't angry about those kinds of people existing in the world, they're angry that women are being forced into the same role over and over, that little girls and boys are growing up with the idea that 'if you are a girl, you are like this!'


    We still view breaking feminine gender roles as moving up, but embracing them is always considered a bad thing.
    This is very true, and very unfortunate


    I really hope more people become aware of this. I know that fighting sexism is a fight that I believe we should be doing, I know that this is important.. and everything I am is that a person should be the person they want to be. Right now though, I think we are just living in a world where as a female it's only okay to be as masculine as you can be while still looking pretty. :|

    Do you agree that we live in a world where the stereotypical idea of femininity is discouraged and attacked? Do you believe that this is alright in the name of fighting sexism? Do you disagree with any of the points I made?
    I think you misunderstand some things. Hmm, lets see, putting one gender role below another, saying masculine roles and preferences are 'better' than feminine ones? Sounds pretty sexist to me! We should be fighting sexism... And pointing out that hey, women (and traditionally feminine roles) are seen as weaker than men, well, that is part of fighting sexism! The two positions are not opposites, they are part of the same thing. Men are seen as better and masculine roles/hobbies more desirable BECAUSE of sexism, not in spite of it.

  9. #9

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    after years of being largely unnecessary because CharliePup always says what I think, I've finally managed to get in before her! result!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by MsClaraRiddle View Post
    after years of being largely unnecessary because CharliePup always says what I think, I've finally managed to get in before her! result!
    Huzzah! MsClaraRiddle!

    For everyone: I found this site to be pretty good in attempting to simplify explanations...including the individual's variations...

    Breaking through the binary: Gender explained using continuums

    -Marka

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