Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: Femininity


Definition and characteristics of femininity

  • Femininity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles associated with women and girls.
  • It is socially constructed and influenced by cultural and biological factors.
  • Femininity is distinct from biological sex and can be exhibited by all humans.
  • Traits traditionally associated with femininity include gracefulness, gentleness, empathy, humility, and sensitivity.
  • Feminine traits vary across societies and individuals due to social and cultural factors.

Historical development and scientific perspectives on femininity

  • Modern notions of femininity emerged during the medieval period in English-speaking society.
  • After the Black Death, traditional gender roles changed and opportunities opened up for women.
  • The terms 'femininity' and 'womanhood' were first recorded in Chaucer's writings in the 1380s.
  • Simone de Beauvoir argued that femininity is not biologically determined but socially constructed.
  • Judith Butler theorized that gender is a socially defined set of practices and traits.
  • Psychologists Lewis Terman and Catherine Cox Miles pioneered efforts to measure femininity and masculinity in the 1930s.
  • The M-F model posited femininity and masculinity as innate and opposing qualities.
  • Researchers moved away from this model and developed an interest in androgyny in the 1970s.
  • The Bem Sex Role Inventory and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire were developed to measure femininity and masculinity separately.
  • Second-wave feminists argued that femininity and masculinity were culturally constructed, with traits assigned based on gender.

Behavior and personality associated with femininity

  • Stereotypically feminine traits include nurturance, sensitivity, sweetness, cooperativeness, and expressiveness.
  • The characteristics of femininity vary within and between societies.
  • Femininity is linked to women's sexual appeal and can be associated with sexual objectification.
  • Sexual passiveness is sometimes considered feminine, while sexual assertiveness is seen as masculine.
  • The extent to which gender identity and behaviors are influenced by socialization versus biology is debated.

Individual perspectives on femininity

  • Femininity is not solely determined by social constructions but also by individual choices.
  • Some philosophers argue that femininity arose from early human sexual encounters and anatomical differences.
  • Others suggest that femininity is a result of how females must behave in a patriarchal social system.
  • Gender ambiguity can challenge traditional gender classifications.
  • Modern conceptualizations of femininity consider both social constructions and individual agency.

Clothing and appearance, history, body alteration, traditional roles, religion and politics

  • Feminine appearance traditionally includes long, flowing hair, clear skin, narrow waist, and little body or facial hair.
  • Some cultures have different expectations, such as underarm hair not being considered unfeminine.
  • The color pink is strongly associated with femininity today, but it was associated with boys in the early 1900s.
  • Feminine beauty ideals have been criticized as restrictive, unhealthy, and even racist.
  • In many Muslim countries, women are required to wear a hijab as a symbol of feminine modesty and morality.
  • Cosmetics have been associated with femininity in some cultures.
  • High heels were considered masculine in 16th century France but are now considered feminine.
  • Ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome had different clothing styles for women.
  • Body alteration is the deliberate altering of the human body for aesthetic or non-medical purposes.
  • Foot binding was practiced in Imperial China to induce perceived feminine characteristics.
  • Neck rings are worn in parts of Africa and Asia to elongate the neck, symbolizing feminine beauty.
  • Femininity is a social construct that relies on a binary gender system.
  • Conventional attitudes towards femininity contribute to the subordination of women in patriarchal societies.
  • Shamanism, including the role of shaman, is considered feminine in some cultures like the Altai.
  • In Hindu traditions, Devi represents the female aspect of the divine.
  • The Abrahamic God is typically described in masculine terms.
  • Communist revolutionaries depicted idealized womanhood as strong and hard-working.
  • Men who display qualities considered feminine are often stigmatized and labeled as weak.
  • Some feminists reject constricting standards of female beauty.
  • Traditional gender roles assign femininity to certain behaviors and traits.
  • Julia Serano's book offers a transfeminist critique of femininity.
  • Society often assigns specific traits and characteristics to femininity, such as nurturing, modesty, and caring for the weak.
  • Femininity is not limited to cisgender women and can be expressed by individuals of various gender identities.

Femininity Data Sources

Reference URL
Knowledge Graph

Read more


Definition and Characteristics of Filigree Filigree is intricate metalwork used in jewelry and small forms of metalwork. It is usually made of gold and silver. Filigree is created with tiny beads o...

Read more

File (tool)

History and Development of Files Early filing or rasping has prehistoric roots Lapping is also quite ancient Bronze Age and Iron Age had various kinds of files and rasps Files were already quite a...

Read more