On femininity and powerlessness


Warm, sensitive, dependent, passive, emotional, cooperative, supportive, subjective. It is becoming clear to psychologists that the old string of adjectives describing women is not so much a description of femininity as it is of a social and psychological state of powerlessness. And the opposite adjectives generally applied to men ­- aggressive, active, cold, task-oriented, competitive, intellectual, objective, independent – do not represent masculinity per se, but more accurately describe the attributes of a person in possession of power.

Zane Kotker, The ‘Feminine’ Behavior of Powerless People

Femininity is a set of behaviors intended to convey one’s acceptance of being a member of an inferior sex caste, so “a state of powerlessness” is actually a very accurate description of what drives the performance of femininity.   Women perform femininity to win approval and acceptance from those who have power.  And since men hold the power in our society, “aggressive, cold, competitive…” etc.  is a very accurate description of masculinity.  Masculinity is about power, and lording power over others.  And power corrupts.



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