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To want to expunge the use of the word feminine from the English language?

(46 Posts)
OrmIrian Thu 11-Jun-09 11:10:02

OED: feminine- adjective
1 having qualities traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.
2 female.
3 Grammar referring to a gender of nouns and adjectives, conventionally regarded as female

Female is enough surely. That describes the simply biological facts of being of one gender rather than the other. The flick of the switch in the uterus that determines whether the foetus will be a girl rather than a boy. That is all we need to know about a person in terms of their gender.

What is the word 'feminine' for? Do we really need to describe a person in terms of how they interpret their gender? 'Feminine' is used as a way to describe, but more significantly prescribe behaviour.

"Don't climb that tree, that isn't feminine."
"Isn't that a pretty dress, it's so feminine?"

Give a child a gender and then let them get on with it. Don't load them down with a word that carries with it so much baggage and so many rules.

We don't have feminine and masculine nouns so we don't need it for that purpose.

And it would also do away with the hideous phrase 'feminine hygiene products which would be a worthy aim in itself I am sure you will agree! Oh and 'feminine mystique' ..hmm


Please (cos I is a female and therefore non-confrontational wink)

PS. Masculine could go too.

DeepGoat Thu 11-Jun-09 11:12:50

funny i was pondering the irratation of the word 'girly' this morning (in context of middle aged women describing themselves as 'girly')

feminine hygiene gives me the boak, don't hear so much about masculine hygiene and that is much more worthy of attention.

OrmIrian Thu 11-Jun-09 11:27:20

'girly' is as bad. Cringe-worthy.

BTW I meant proscribe as well as prescribe.

DeepGoat Thu 11-Jun-09 11:29:58

ladylike is much worse. just makes me think of little britain now.

MitchyInge Thu 11-Jun-09 11:35:09

what's wrong with delicate and pretty?

muddleduck Thu 11-Jun-09 11:35:53

none of these are as bad as "wifely"

DeepGoat Thu 11-Jun-09 11:39:37

i don't think i ahve ever hear of wifely.

the whole delicate/prettyness thing surely is a way to control women. if you are demanding, assertive or successful you are not feminine. if you are half starved and submissive (delicate) and worrying about your appearence constantly you are feminine.

policywonk Thu 11-Jun-09 11:42:23

Yeah, I hate 'feminine' and tend not to use it. I've always thought female = sex, feminine = gender (learned behaviour).

Of course, not all gender-based behaviour is bad - but most of the marketing associated with 'femininity' is toe-curling.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Thu 11-Jun-09 11:48:30

YANBU I completely agree. I remember once having to help a girl (she was, about 17) I worked with to push the loaded (with stock) trolley up the hill from the stockroom and musing on why women yearned to be skinny and weak when it was so much better to be physically strong. It is precisely those traits 'feminine' 'girly' 'delicate' that some women aspire to which keeps them feeble and weak (physically) in comparison to men. Seems like a massive con trick on women to me.

OrmIrian Thu 11-Jun-09 11:54:07

mitchy - nothing wrong with delicate and pretty. Only a problem when it's associated with the female - ie you are only feminine when also delicate and pretty, and can only be delicate and pretty when feminine iyswim.

MitchyInge Thu 11-Jun-09 11:58:11

yes don't think I read the OP properly - I don't believe people really say that sort of thing to their daughters though, you know 'don't do blah because it isn't feminine' or aspire to be weak and helpless themselves?

do they?

am such a long term confirmed singleton/superwoman it's probably just all a bit alien to me

perhaps that's why I'm single!

OrmIrian Thu 11-Jun-09 12:00:53

Not ostensibly I guess. I was exagerrating of course. But it is still an unspoken rule for many parents - that their DDs will aspire to be feminine.

triggerhappybaby Thu 11-Jun-09 12:08:07

The only time 'wifely' is used in our house is in the context of 'fishwifely', I believe in the context of my gob rather than my feminine hygiene

MitchyInge Thu 11-Jun-09 12:08:11

But I don't agree that all qualities traditionally associated with femininity are automatically to be despised, I think many of them are desirable in their way. I just don't think they should necessarily be sex/gender-specific.

madwomanintheattic Thu 11-Jun-09 12:08:41

lol. my dad didn't want me to be a military policewoman because it wasn't, er, feminine.

you can't ban 'feminine mystique' though. 's my fave book.

girly is hilarious. i mostly hear it when discussing future objectives with MTF trannies. grin

Tortington Thu 11-Jun-09 12:10:56

i did secrtly wish my dd was feminine.

she just isn't. not a gracefull bone in her body.

i dont see owt wrong with it

fleacircus Thu 11-Jun-09 12:12:00

Agree, ban it, especially in association with 'hygiene'.

Bucharest Thu 11-Jun-09 12:12:46

Wifely means you have a bust and a pinny.
Feminine means you have a cleavage and a frock.
Girly means you have boobs and a Hello Kitty t-shirt (even though you're 36.)

Let's get rid of all of them!
And the hygiene products. You don't see cheesey willy lotions and potions do you? huh? Yet, I'd venture there are far more of those around than fishy fanjos.

I'm disgusting myself now. I shall go and post elsewhere for a while...

OrmIrian Thu 11-Jun-09 12:14:39

"I just don't think they should necessarily be sex/gender-specific. "


My DS#1 has many 'feminine' qualities. He is gentle and a peacemaker. He is always the one that gives hugs and kisses if someone is upset. He also likes pink. Does that make him feminine?

MIFLAW Thu 11-Jun-09 12:15:03

We do need it to talk about foreign grammar, surely?

MitchyInge Thu 11-Jun-09 12:17:34

"My DS#1 has many 'feminine' qualities. He is gentle and a peacemaker. He is always the one that gives hugs and kisses if someone is upset. He also likes pink. Does that make him feminine? "

yeah, but why should that be either a good or a bad thing? it just is what it is!

OrmIrian Thu 11-Jun-09 12:18:28

Well yes I did concede the foreign grammar bit miflaw. But how often do you discuss the gender of French nouns (miflaw now reveals she is a modern lang teacher grin)

OrmIrian Thu 11-Jun-09 12:19:20

Well fine but I think it is a good idea to remove the autmoatic association of these qualities with one or other gender.

MitchyInge Thu 11-Jun-09 12:20:44

it only matters if you attach negative values to it, surely

am not keen on the idea of pretending history hasn't happened, that women haven't had to overcome these obstacles or that the 'angel in the house' ideology doesn't still have echoes for us today

so I vote to retain feminine

OrmIrian Thu 11-Jun-09 12:24:58

OK Mitchy. We will have to agree to differ grin

I do think there are negative connotations for feminity for women. It has so often meant being less able, less confident, passive. So those who encourage girls to be so are also maybe signing them up to a life of less opportunity, less action, less choice. IMO.

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