Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On Being Feminine

Webster's 1828 dictionary defines feminine as:

1. Pertaining to a woman, or to women, or to females; as the female sex.

2. Soft; tender; delicate. "Her heavenly form/ Angelic, but more soft and feminine." -- Milton

3. Effeminate; destitute of manly qualities.

4. In grammar, denoting the gender or words which signify females, or the terminations of such words. Words are said to be of the feminine gender, when they denote females, or have the terminations proper to express females in any given language. Thus in L. dominus, a lord, is masculine; but domina, is mistress, a female. Milton uses feminine as a noun, for female.

I think definition 1, is a little bit obvious to a lot of people. When people hear/read the word feminine, monsters don't usually appear in their mind. Usually the pictures that appear are inherently related to woman. So that one's taken care of.

Definition 2 I find very interesting as I think it's the definition that we tend to think of when we speak of feminine. "Soft, tender, and delicate". There are so many ways this can be applied.

~~Spiritually these qualities may be applied.

~We need to be "soft" to the Word of God, allowing it to make an impression in our lives.
~We need to be tender to the leading of those God has put in our lives to teach us more about Him (I'm specifically thinking of parents here).
~And we need to be delicate in our beliefs. Now I don't mean wishy-washy. But I believe that we can't be so stubborn on some points that if we were to be shown from Scripture that we are wrong, we wouldn't be able to accept that.

~~This definition can also be applied to our attitudes.

~We need to be soft in our speech to others. Again, this doesn't mean that we don't speak without conviction, but we need to make sure that we don't allow our voices to become harsh and unkind.
~We need to be tender to those around us. We need to be aware if someone around us is hurting and comfort them...or if someone is rejoicing, rejoice with them.
~And we need to be delicate in our speech to those around us, making sure that when we open our mouth to speak, we are not doing so to hurt someone else.

~~And then this definition can be applied to our outward appearances. This one is very much up for personal interpretation, so I'll just give my interpretation and let you and your family interpret this for yourself.

~How does one be "soft" in appearance? Does it mean only wearing pastel colours? No, it does not mean colours. I believe it means to not wear anything that would cause someone else to be startled. That sounds funny even to me, but I've got a picture in my mind of what that means. While I was a cashier at WalMart, I came across many women who were not soft in their appearance. The one that sticks out the most is the lady who was wearing a lime green shirt with skin tight jeans, large gold earrings, very dark blush, and black eye makeup. She startled just about everyone around her with her looks. I think dressing "softly" would include not wearing things that draw attention to your body or makeup that is overdone.
~What does it mean to be tender in appearance? This one is even harder. I think that being tender in appearance is being sensitive to those around you and not dressing a way that you know would be offensive to them. This kind of goes back to having a tender attitude as well. Practically it would mean wearing things that draw the eyes to the face and not to your body.
~Does being delicate in appearance mean wearing lace and frills? I hope not! I like well placed lace and fills, but not too often and not too much. :-) I believe this goes back to making sure that you are dressing like a woman. ---------I'm going to touch on the pants issue very quickly. Yes, there are pants today that are feminine and pretty. I don't think anyone seeing you in capris would ever dream you were anything but a lady. ;-) It's really the history of pants that I object to. The first "pants" that were worn were the bloomers of the 1880s developed by a feminist. Although they didn't catch on for fashion then, when WWI began and women starting taking over men's jobs so they could fight, they became more acceptable for women to wear. After WWII when women could have gone back to their homes, they chose to stay in the work force and continue developing and wearing pants. Then it became a part of the femininstic movement. Because of the history of why it is now acceptable for women to wear pants I tend to steer clear of them.
~~But back to being delicate, there should be no doubt when people see you from a distance that you are a lady.

Definition 3 got me intrigued. "Effeminate, destitute of manly qualities". That could give a whole new spin on things. It makes me think, "Is everything I do during the day devoid of anything that could be masculine."

Definition 4 is one of the most confusing things in learning a new language. I took and taught French for a number of years and my first question when learning and the first question I got when teaching it was, "How can a table be feminine?" A very good question and all I could say was "It's French."

I know going through the definition of femininity from the dictionary has given me a lot to think about. I hope it's done the same for you.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting, Tiffany. It has given me a lot to think about. I never have looked a dictionary definitions in that way before!