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According to Burke (1988), femininity refers to the extent to which an individual perceives himself or herself to be feminine based on what it means being a woman in a given society. As opposed to anatomical sex, femininity relates to womanliness. Whenever I here of femininity, I always think of the character traits valued in my society as a result of being a woman. The society has its understanding of what being a male or a female means based on such traits as dominance, bravery, passiveness and emotions among others. Ideally, femininity is a general orientation of females. There are, however, situations where a man may see himself feminine.
A general conventional stereotypical female role in the culture that I belong to is to get married and have children. Demonstrating femininity extends to being compassionate, caring and sympathetic. My friends who strive to demonstrate femininity spend much of their time to make themselves beautiful. This arises from the enormous weight placed on a female being lovable in the society. Being feminine is like being beautiful, caring and showing concern as dictated by our cultures.
According to Katz (1986), femininity rise from one’s self-meaning generated from childhood and accumulated as a result of learning and interactions. Peers, parents and other educators have a lot of impact on one’s inclination to femininity. For example, when I was a small kid I used to receive a type of dolls which to some extent inculcated a sense of care in me. As for my fellow male children, they used to get toys such as trucks to help them learn to be industrious: an attribute associated with masculinity. However, a departure from this feminine cultural model may be initiated by education or religious institutions. This way, a female may incline to masculinity as indicated by being rational, industrious and even dominant. Similarly, male may tend to be more feminine by being more caring and passive. People may therefore perceive themselves in a masculine-feminine dimension: more feminine or sometimes a mixture of both.
There is a wide range of practices that signal femininity. A general norm, for example, is to wear make-up. Strong femininity is also associated with young look and long hair; male are adopting such appearance to demonstrate the departure from strong masculinity. According to Kopplelman (1996), a gray-haired or baldheaded woman was perceived as a threat and experienced social punishment. Feminine dressing is a technique used to develop a sense of self-worth for those with orientation to femininity. The feminine colors are believed to be pastel, soft, clear and light. There is a lot of color sensitivity in selection of clothes. Other features of the clothes that attract attention include the ability to accentuate one’s figure while being modest. High heel shoes and jewelries are used to develop a strong feminine touch. Femininity in labor market is associated with jobs that demand less physical energy as opposed to the case of masculine dominated jobs. This has kept young girls away from studying such courses as engineering in learning institutions.
From the recent past, feminine body shape is perceived to be slim. Researches done on femininity such as of Hesse-Biber (1996) and Hartmann (1976) indicate a socio-cultural pressure of being slim among the women. Those with inclination to femininity strive to achieve this through self-imposed body based attentions. Presentation of feminine beauty is an area that has received a lot of emphasis among popular Media. Such model presentations portray the “ideal feminine body” that women strive to achieve. This makes an individual feel dissatisfied with their physical appearance and hence ready to incur any cost to maintain femininity. This way, economic status becomes another factor that contributes to femininity above the socio-cultural factors.