I should be working more on the book but I’m finding myself highly distracted this evening. Or rather, I should say, this morning. I was reading through some old books last night and I got to thinking about femininity and what it means for a person or thing to be feminine. In the book I flipped through, the author kept making references about woman being nurturing, gentle, and inherently submissive. The aspects brought up were of qualities thought to be feminine and solely feminine; sweet, demure, naïve… Over and over, the theme repeated itself. Granted, it’s an old book…a book written when that line of thinking wasn’t uncommon. But it struck me as odd that the image seemingly clung to was, dare I say, almost demeaning to a woman’s beautiful inner strength.
I could never fully agree that the epitome of femininity is always soft, gentle, and that at its core it wants nothing more than to be bent or swayed by a stronger force. I don’t know many women that would. We’re more than an image and full of complexities, women and men alike. This idea of woman as something sweet and mild doesn’t sit well, it seems old-fashioned and obsolete. Sure, for some people it makes a cute picture. But cute is girlish and not necessarily womanly. And something opposite of that doesn’t make a thing less feminine. It’s just another aspect of it.
Fueled by this interesting and somewhat intriguing internal debate I had going with myself, I remembered something that had happened several years ago to me. I remembered some of the conversations I’d had with fellow pagans in the past. I’ve heard differing views from so many different pagans when it comes to sexuality. I’ve heard, “Complete homosexuality is unbalanced. You’re not honoring the Goddess AND God,” (Right, because in order to do that I have to do it through a purely physical act with someone of the opposite gender – I can’t just honor BOTH my own feminine and masculine qualities and honor them that way). I’ve also heard, “Perhaps you were a man in a past life,” or, “Maybe you were assaulted in a past life and that’s put you off men.”
I’ve heard and read so many varying things. There are those that think that homosexuality is something that comes into play when a soul is transitioning from female to male or male to female in the next life and that homosexuality is, essentially, practice for the next round.
I have no idea who scraped up that idea, but If I come back in the next life with a phallus, whoever runs this bitch and I are going to be having a serious talk -- I like the option of purchasing one, but it’s totally a non-committal sort of thing, thanks! (I had to throw a little lesbian humor in here somewhere, didn’t I?)
Some aspects of Buddhism also believe that homosexuality arises due to heterosexual indiscretions in a past life. If that’s the case, I’m assuming most of the people in this modern day and age will be coming back gay. Hah! And you were waiting for the apocalypse, weren’tcha!? (Why yes, I did just sprinkle that with sarcasm).
It seems people constantly need to find an answer (and sometimes any answer) to the question: “Why?”
A huge part of what makes us who we are is what we like and dislike. Yet, sometimes we have reasons for those likes and dislikes and other times, we don’t. There are times when it just is what it is, we feel what we feel, and we can’t pinpoint an exact reason or answer to, “Why?” I could tell you why I don’t like the things I dislike and I could tell you what I like about being a lesbian…(and no, it’s not the synchronized PMSing)…but does it always need to be picked apart to be understood? If you tear off the petals of a rose, don’t you risk losing sight of its whole?
Case in point -- let’s switch back to a conversation that started up at a pagan gathering and how I somehow found my sexuality the center of discussion.
One of the women in the group said to another, “I think she has masculine energy.” Yes, she was talking about me. I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself. I didn’t even know how to respond to that, as I’m obviously a woman and a feminine one at that. Though, I do believe we’re all a blend of feminine and masculine qualities. I just didn’t comprehend how this woman was pegging me as masculine.
Until I realized that because I’m gay, she made the assumption that my “energy,” was masculine.
Another woman at the table caught it too and said, “I think you’re confusing that just because she’s gay. She’s not masculine. She’s strongly feminine.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, they clicked rightly into place. Strongly feminine, I loved it! It put feminine and masculine into a whole new perspective for me. It built the feminine up to its strength, its potential, without tearing it down or making it something completely masculine.
Femininity and masculinity have their own particular flavors within an individual, I think. I don’t think either should be belittled and discredited. Just because a woman’s gay or she’s not always softly feminine, doesn’t make her any less feminine. That, to me, seems to discredit all the varying aspects of the feminine.
History and mythology are speckled with them, with a woman’s ability to have a sharp wit and her own particular brand of strength. Sometimes that strength is cunning, cutting and wise. Sometimes, it’s armored and willing to fight alongside men. Sometimes, it’s that softness and subtlety that leads men to war or the honeyed song that leads sailors to their demise. Sometimes, it’s self-sacrificing and compassionate, it’s nurturing and understanding. And sometimes, it’s fierce and unyielding, and a little rough around the edges.
When it comes down to it, it’s all woman. It’s all a part of the feminine.
In the words of Ani-fucking-Difranco, “I am thirty-two flavors and then some.”