What is Femininity? It’s not what you think
Femininity and its partner masculinity too often today create waves of confusion, distrust, judgment, shame, and self-abandonment. Yet these two dynamic and powerful forces act continuously at the very core of our existence. Without the two, we would not survive. We would not thrive and we certainly wouldn’t know sensual and passionate pleasure.
Here we’ll answer your questions about femininity and its various expressions. We’ll explore truths and misconceptions. We’ll shine a light on the possibility that unfolds when we deeply understand and respect femininity in ourselves and each other.
What is femininity?
Let’s begin by answering the question, what is femininity? Before exploring the various types and expressions of the femininity, we must first understand the essential nature of the word. The word femininity describes and identifies the experience of being feminine or exuding feminine qualities. One might experience femininity within themselves through a deep embodiment of feminine energy or one might witness it as “a group of feminine qualities” expressed in another person. Collectively we label that combined set of feminine traits as femininity.
Often and mistakenly, many define femininity as the qualities of being female or of being a woman. This misunderstanding and mislabeling creates a series of expectations and, in some cases, defensives and resistances, that deny us powerful dimensions of self-understanding. It also limits our capacity to understand and master the dynamic qualities of attraction and sexual chemistry.
Femininity is not equivalent to gender. While it is true that we often experience femininity in those who identify as female, and even while the two often correlate, they are not one in the same. This confusion causes great pain for those who haven’t yet recognized and appreciated their own personal and natural expressions of masculine and feminine energy. This pain goes up dramatically for those who don’t fit the female-feminine, male-masculine stereotypes.
Feminine energy can show up and express itself in anyone. As a matter of fact, like it or not, every human being has a dose of femininity within. And, yes, this goes for the strongest or even brutest of masculine men. It’s in there even if the outside persona obscures it.
Therefore, for our own healthy self-expression, for natural romantic attraction, and for genuine lasting sexual chemistry, we want to understand the dynamics of the feminine within ourselves and those we love. This is especially true for those we love romantically and sexually. Femininity when embraced, brings great beauty, love, and pleasure to all of life.
What does being feminine mean?
Now that we’ve given the word femininity meaning, let’s explore the expression or beingness behind it’s embodiment. Truly being feminine comes from within, finding its roots or source in our authentic essence. Being feminine does not mean acting feminine or doing feminine things, although many people, especially women, approach it this way.
When considered intellectually, being feminine turns into just another set of things to do, another set of expectations to live up to. We have way too many expectations as a society these days and we do not need more pressure just to be feminine because it’s the ‘in’ thing. However, if femininity happens to be your natural essence and you spend more time in your daily life exhibiting masculinity, you just might find yourself frequently exhausted. (Do note that many, many women fall into this category where they believe masculinity to be their true nature, when it is, in fact, feminine.)
So before embarking on a journey of being feminine, you want to actually investigate your authentic nature or genuine sexual essence, as masculine, feminine or neutral. You want to ensure that the level or expression of feminine energy you attempt to embody corresponds to the natural or innate expression of femininity in your constitution.
Because it seems like the right and respectful thing to do in today’s world, some who have masculinity as their primary essence actually, to the detriment of themselves and their relationships, try to be significantly more feminine. On the other hand, some who truly have a feminine essence don’t know it, or deny it for fear of judgment or weakness, again to the detriment of health, happiness, and intimate pleasure. Please remain conscious in your intentions to embody femininity, so that you do not cause yourself more pain and difficulty.
Now that we’ve made the importance of authenticity clear, being feminine means embodying feminine energy naturally.
Femininity expresses itself as a felt combination of such qualities as soft, flowing, open, receptive, wild, creative, nurturing, expressive, chaotic, vulnerable, graceful, intuitive, and the like.
You know you have the privilege to witness and enjoy the presence of someone being feminine when you feel embraced, drawn, softened, or nourished. You may feel the presence of beauty, regardless of physical shape. Now, when you feel that way, it’s important to realize that feminine energy may not actually be that’s person’s primary sexual essence energy. That person could predominantly embody masculine energy, but at that moment be partnering femininity with masculinity to create a more profound opening or space for connection.
Depending on your own authentic essence, you might also find the presence of femininity naturally arousing. And, in most cases, we can enjoy that arousing nature without acting on it.
What is divine femininity? What is traditional femininity?
While in actuality, we can’t point to a difference between divine femininity and traditional femininity, we can explore the concepts, perspectives and projections of each. Femininity is simply femininity. We can not judge it as good or bad, right or wrong, traditional or even divine. Femininity is defined by, as we said, the expression and embodiment of a combination of feminine qualities.
The motivation or reason behind the embodiment of feminine energy becomes relevant when considering traditional femininity vs. divine femininity.
Again while these feminine qualities, in and of themselves, can’t be deemed positive or negative, some will have more conscious, healthy, or supportive expressions than others. For the purpose of our exploration, let’s describe shadow femininity, or the shadow side of the feminine, and sacred femininity, the light side of the feminine.
Most of the qualities we described above paint a picture and give us a felt sense of the light side of the feminine. The exception in the words used above might be chaotic, yet in some cases the chaotic, unexpected wildness, or the untamed nature of the feminine can be quite exciting and even erotic.
We’ll explore the shadow feminine more in a moment, and we wanted to begin distinguishing it now as we contrast traditional and divine feminine expressions.
Let’s define traditional femininity. Traditionally, we have made femininity and female equivalent. We said women should do certain things, dress certain ways simply because they were of the female sex. Women were told good girls do this and good girls don’t do that. Traditional femininity was a ‘role’ certain people, mostly women, were told they should play in life and in love. Thank goodness the feminist movement broke us out of those roles, yet, to consider the complete picture, the breakthrough also cost us authenticity. We can simply define traditional femininity or traditional masculinity as ‘expected and even required gender roles.’
And remember, gender and being feminine are two completely different things that for centuries we mistakenly took for one in the same. It is recommended that you completely release yourself from traditional gender roles and set out to discover if your nature had a predominance of masculinity or femininity. You can use the masculine feminine test to find out.
Now let’s consider divine femininity. In contrast to traditional femininity and the expectations that accompany it, divine femininity recognizes the innate value, necessity, and sacredness of the feminine and its expression.
Expressions of divine femininity arise when the motivation, the energy, behind them moves for the greater good. Femininity values inclusivity, embracing, the whole, the collective. It therefore usually holds the good of the whole in its heart. In other words, femininity really is, by nature, divine.
Yet, we must take caution here. Divine femininity can easily slide into the pain of the shadow feminine. Struggle and pain for some feminine beings stems from over reliance on the innate self-sacrificing nature of the feminine. When self-sacrifice happens consistently, when one values other over self, repeatedly, we move out of divine femininity and into shadow femininity.
Divine femininity invites us, as a humanity, directly into love. It calls us to openness, vulnerability and sensitivity. It is our pathway to healing individually and collectively. Divine femininity stands for the reunion of the genders, races, cultures, countries. Divine femininity loves, loves, and loves more. (Divine masculine embodiment, to be clear, also loves deeply, powerfully, in its own unique and sacred way. )
What is toxic femininity?
Although many seeking to understand ask the question, what is toxic femininity, the question itself does not serve. The question doesn’t serve because the phrase toxic femininity doesn’t support the greater good. And as we said, divine femininity cares for the greatest good.
The problem with the phrase originates from the use of the word toxic and its inherent judgment. The now overly common use of ‘toxic’ has implications of “I am good and you are bad.” The word, and the phrases, ring of superiority and righteousness in the one who speaks them, while sending shaming messages to the one(s) to whom they are directed towards.
If we want to heal, understand, create respect, and reunite with love for all, then we must drop the use of the word toxic. We must recognize that femininity is not toxic and masculinity is not toxic.
Now, while the word toxic doesn’t help, we must also honestly acknowledge that masculinity and femininity can express in unconscious and unhealthy ways. Yet, unhealthy or unconscious behaviors do not make any person bad. They do not give us the right to shame. If we remain open and honest with ourselves and each other, we will have to admit that we all interact in unhealthy and unconscious ways at times. None of us embodies perfection. Every one of us has hurts, wounds, and conditioning that drive us to behave in certain ways, even if those behaviors create pain for ourselves and others.
If we leave the shaming out and we accept our common imperfections, then we can absolutely discuss the unconscious, unhealthy, unsupportive, unaware, unawake, immature, or shadow femininity. (Notice how many choices you have besides toxic femininity.)
Again, for our exploration here, we’ll use the phrase shadow feminine to represent this immature or unconscious femininity.
Shadow feminine includes the feminine qualities expressed when someone feels a lack of confidence or insecurity, when someone is afraid or seeks to gain a sense of control, when the person hasn’t united their inner masculinity with their natural femininity, or when there has been conditioning or a need to self-protect – real or perceived.
When our shadow sides appear – whether it be shadow masculinity, shadow femininity, or other shadow aspects of our character, they simply act as invitations to relate more deeply with ourselves. They invite us to move toward self-inquiry and self-understanding so that we may transmute and transform what no longer serves.
Please know that exploring the unconscious side of femininity (or masculinity) may stir unpleasant feelings. You may feel uncomfortable. It might trigger judgment of self or other. So, go slowly. Get support if you need it. Coming into conscious relationship with ourselves and our innate femininity as well as the femininity that expresses in others – male or female – in the world, couldn’t hold more importance today.
With that being said, be gentle with yourself and each other as you read on.
In our unconscious patterns and behaviors, femininity can include manipulation, deception, ungrounded chaos, drama, passive-aggressiveness and the like. Our shadow femininity may seduce us into dropping our boundaries, saying yes when we want to say no. It may invite us to grasp and hold on, even when holding on isn’t good for us.
Remember that seeing the shadow feminine in ourselves invites us to evolve our expression of our innate and divine femininity. It does not give us a reason to shame or judge ourselves. Additionally, the words and descriptions also do not grant you permission to point at another person saying, “you do this.”
On the path of the conscious maculine and the conscious feminine we focus on supporting, healing, loving, nurturing, and evolving ourselves. And, when we evolve into the greatest expression of ourselves, automatically the situations, experiences and people around us will evolve accordingly. We do not need to change them. We must look within.
May this be an invitation to know and love the femininity within you. May this be an invitation to celebrate, honor, witness and evolve with the femininity that surrounds you in others. May femininity bring deep blessing to your life. Your personal evolution with authentic femininity and divine femininity will serve you, those you love, the collective, and the world. Thank you.
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.
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February 24-26, 2023
February 24-26, 2023