I have been circling this concept for what seems like an eternity. It is not a fashionable concept. We are in a time period where masculinity and femininity are seen as purely social or cultural constructs, each with their own set of major problems. Socially constructed masculinity is bullying and brutish, only interested in winning and dominating. Socially constructed femininity is simpering, wimpy and foolish, endlessly complaining and seemingly only interested in the sound of its own whining.
I believe that some people, regardless of gender, are born leaning toward a masculine perspective. I believe that some people, regardless of gender, are born leaning toward a feminine perspective. I was raised in a home that valued toughness and mental agility. I was taught to not act or be very feminine, because femininity was not viewed as tough or smart. After being abused as a child, I also went through a severe tomboy phase before and during puberty. Among other things, I cut my hair very short in order to look like a boy.
But I have always felt, at my core, extremely feminine. When I was in kindergarten, I would beg my mother to let me wear dresses to school (she would make me wear my corduroys underneath them—or, more often, send me to school in denim overalls). My mother was herself quite feminine, but more in a denim and heels way. More sexy, outdoorsy fox. I liked very feminine things, very girly things.
People equate this with stupidity, I’ve realized. Intense femininity is seen as dumb. It’s like Marilyn Monroe—pretty face, curvy body, nothing upstairs. And if femininity equals softness, that is seen as weakness. Someone who will just roll over on her back in the face of adversity. Someone who can’t think for herself.
Similarly, intense masculinity is seen as pure asshole-ish-ness. Just a real cold, unfeeling prick, storming through life, dominating everyone, not giving a fuck. If masculinity equals hardness, that is seen sometimes as strength, and sometimes as pure brutality. Someone who will steamroll their way through life. Someone who only cares about himself.
Ours is a culture of aggression, which is why the masculine perspective—while often critiqued—is not as universally hated as the feminine perspective.
I think both of these perspectives have been unfairly maligned, mostly because they are seen through a recherché lens. People think of these archetypes in terms of the 1950s businessman and the 1950s housewife. He’s a machine cut off from his emotions—no better than an automaton. She’s disenfranchised and powerless—no better than a cooking, cleaning sex doll.
That is masculinity and femininity at its worst. That is not masculinity and femininity as it should be.
Over the past few years, I’ve thought about myself as a creator quite a bit. I’ve often thought that one of the most valuable aspects of my work is the fact that it so wholly represents an intellectual feminine perspective. I have very little difficulty engaging with my intellect. I rarely come across a concept that I feel is over my head. I don’t think of this intellectual ability as distinct from my femininity at all. I think of it AS my femininity. My curiosity, my intuition, my wisdom. These things—though arguably gender neutral—FEEL feminine to me, because of the way I use and express them through my mouth and mind and body. And I love them.
I can feel these qualities in other feminine creators as well. My favorite fashion designers are Isabel Marant, Miuccia Prada (who holds a PhD in Political Science), and Vanessa Bruno. When I wear their clothes, I can FEEL their feminine wisdom in the way they’ve designed their garments, in their choice of fabrics.
My favorite cafés in Williamsburg are Saltie and Lilia. When I eat at these places, which are owned by women, I can FEEL how women think about food, how their choices inflect the aesthetics and the cuisine.
I love being around my friends, who regardless of gender tend to tip toward a more feminine perspective. I like the way they do things, the way they think about things. I’ve often thought that the feminine perspective could be visualized in spirals or concentric circles. That’s how it appears to me visually.
At the same time, I am fascinated by the otherness of masculinity. It is the thing I am most attracted to sexually. The not-me. While I believe that there is some masculinity in my thoughts and behavior, it is most definitely not my dominant personal perspective. It is a perspective I like to dive into and swim around in because it is so different. I love masculinity, I love the sound of it, the look of it, the feel of it, the smell of it. I love that it thinks differently to me.
But sometimes I feel like I am the ONLY person in the world who thinks this way. I feel sometimes like we are caught in this endless boys versus girls battleground, where nothing can ever be resolved. I hate it.
I hate the idea that being feminine means siding with femininity against masculinity. I hate complaints about men.
And I hate men denigrating women. It makes me so sad.
From taking the past few years to dive into the feminine perspective, I have surfaced with some ideas. People who identify with or are intrigued by the feminine perspective need to start putting their money where their mouth is. If you like the creative product put forth by feminine individuals, support their efforts. Stop complaining about the masculine not supporting the feminine if you yourself are not supporting the feminine. What the masculine perspective gets right is that it has an inbuilt support network. It puts its money where its mouth is.
Think about the things you naturally resonate with. If you feel deeply feminine, nine times out of ten the websites you shop, the clothing you like, the cafés you visit will be owned or operated by someone with a similar perspective.
Femininity shouldn’t need to feel justified by masculinity. And masculinity shouldn’t need to feel catered to by femininity. Those imbalances occur when people aren’t valuing and accepting WHAT THEY NATURALLY RESONATE WITH.
I love masculine men, but I don’t think I necessarily make work they are going to immediately resonate with (nor does the work they make immediately resonate with me, nine times out of ten). If anything, I would love for them to be intrigued by the fact that my perspective is DIFFERENT than theirs. When I was a girl, I used to go to hardcore shows with my friends. I LOVED watching the boys (and, though fewer, the girls) in the pit, watching their aggressive reaction to the music and to each other. It felt so graceful and primal and free to me. So natural. I had ZERO desire to go into the pit myself. I like that music, but I experience it differently. There is something beautiful about that to me. I don’t ever want to think that we have lost the ability to appreciate the differences in each other.
And I don’t ever want to think that we have lost the ability to appreciate ourselves for who and what we are. I am proud to make work and live a life from a feminine perspective. It was not a perspective that was drilled into me. It is one that was, in some ways, scared out of me. When I was able to reclaim it, it felt like coming home. I want everyone, no matter how feminine, masculine or in-between they feel, to find resonance with their own perspective. That’s one of the biggest hopes and dreams I have in this life.