Defining Femininity: Part II

In yesterday's post, we determined that it is practically impossible to nail-down a set of characteristics that perfectly describe femininity. We'll ask our fellow philosophers for help with this one. Philosophers define slippery things that are difficult to pin-point in terms of family resemblance. Essentially, "family resemblances are a list of common but not required characteristics." Defining abstract terms like "femininity" using family resemblances allows for the inclusion of all women without requiring their total conformity to every single defining characteristic. For example, my family is known for our wide thick eyebrows. However, my mom has thin eyebrows. The fact that she doesn't have the same eyebrows as my dad, brother, and I, does not make her any less part of the family. She is still equally part of the family, but simply doesn't share 100% of the characteristics. She isn't required to paint her eyebrows thicker to "fit" into our family, she already is wholly part of the family. 

The same concept can be applied to femininity. There are characteristics that are overwhelmingly feminine. "These qualities, as gifts from God, may come more easily to us. There are not things we should have to try to do as much as they will be part of who we are." 

So, what are they? From Jonalyn Fincher's Ruby Slippers:
Female body: a soul interwoven into a female body.
Vulnerability: in body and soul.
Interdependence: identity emerges from intimacy.
Sensitive awareness: soul radar for others and ourselves
Emotional intelligence: experience in management of intense emotions.
Cultivation: ability to tend to others, ourselves, and the world.  
The characteristics listed are family resemblances of ways many women are, not the ways all women ought to be. Perhaps you identify with all six characteristics or maybe with only two. That's okay. Only the first characteristic is essential to being a woman. No one is more or less feminine because they don't identify with one or the other, or if they identify with all. 

I've read several books on femininity, and none have given me the freedom to be RUBI without ascribing to a set of "feminine" qualities and roles. I've read the whole Leslie Ludy set of books on set-apart femininity, and I enjoyed them, a lot! While there is much truth in them, there is still something constraining about keeping a specific model of femininity in your mind and forcing yourself to perfect the art of femininity, as if it was an art. Femininity is God-given and innate, and does not conform to a set of rules. That is freeing in so many ways. It's not about an "act" I aim to perfect, but about who I am as a woman created by God. 

God has called me, and you, to a space of freedom where His design for femininity is manifested in the life of every female creation in diverse ways. We are unique in our thoughts, our emotions, our personalities, our passions, our callings, and all of that, is completely okay and a virtue of God's creative work among His created beings. We were all designed to bear the image of a living God; how we do that will be unique to each woman, but the divine purpose remains the same. I thank the Lord for his creative work within me and within everyone of my fellow sisters in Christ. You are all so special and intricately designed for heavenly purposes. Don't ever forget that! Embrace the way God knit you together and ask Him to continually shape you for higher purposes. 

With all my love, 
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