It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
This month, the OPTIONAL QUESTION involves the NaNoWriMo. As I never participated in it and don’t plan to in the foreseeable future, I want to write about a different question. I went shopping yesterday and saw a small poster on a wall: a simple sheet of colored printer paper. It asked in a large font: What does your femininity mean to you? I didn’t stop to read the small font underneath, just skimmed the title and continued on my way, but the question stuck. What does femininity mean to me: as a woman and a writer?
In traditional psychology, the terms masculinity and femininity referred to characteristics typically associated with being male or female, respectively. High masculinity implied the absence of femininity, and vice versa. [He is strong and aggressive. He is a man. She is gentle and nurturing. She is a woman.] As a result, everyone could be classified as either masculine or feminine. No gray area.
Contemporary science views the subject differently. In modern psychology, any individual simultaneously possesses both masculine and feminine features, to some degree, a mix of Mars and Venus. Moreover, many philosophers agree that both femininity and masculinity are often more social than biological constructs. Gender (outward attributes) notwithstanding, when a person has more feminine attributes psychologically than masculine ones, that person could be considered feminine. Otherwise, masculine.
Statistically, in most women, feminine traits outweigh masculine ones. The same is true of men. Our species wouldn’t have survived otherwise. But sometimes, our gender and psyche clash, and we have people who feel the opposite of their bodies, the opposite of their gender stereotype. That’s where trans-genders come from. Or, if not the opposite, leaning to the other side, trying to figure out who they are. Trying to fit in inside the rigid society definitions.
I never felt any conflict with my body. I’m a woman, maybe not 100% feminine but feminine enough. I’m a mother. I was a wife, until my divorce. I guess, I took it as a given that I’m feminine. Somewhat. It didn’t mean anything to me; it simply was.
But as a writer, perhaps I should think about it. Most of the protagonists of my fiction are females. Should I try to make them more feminine? Less? Should I find a balance of sorts? How?
There are novels aplenty about people, male and female, struggling with themselves and the society, when their genders and psyches are in discord. But I recently read a fantasy novel by Mercedes Lackey, one of her older Valdemar stories. In her story, one of the characters, Firesong, has his feminine and masculine sides perfectly balanced. In the book, he is beautiful, homosexual, and a powerful Adept magician.
I wonder if any writer ever wrote a female protagonist who balanced both sides of her nature: feminine and masculine. Would she be a lesbian? Would she be a fighter? What does it mean, when both sides of your psyche are in balance? Does it make you a better mother? A worse lover? A hermaphrodite? I don’t know. Do you? Tell me in the comments?
Unrelated: I had a fantasy short story Defying Kikimoras published in the April 2017 issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly. They are running a poll for the annual Reader’s Choice Award, asking people to vote for their favorite story and author. The poll is open until Nov 15th. You can read my story for free here. If you like it, would you mind going to the poll and voting for me? You have to scroll down to the April issue and find my name. Here is the link.