Two quotes misunderstand and undervalue people, I contend:
“You should get in touch with your masculine side.”
“You should get in touch with your feminine side.”
People say the first to women mainly, sometimes men, to imply they should learn to act more like mainstream views of men, like learning to fix things around the house, not sweating small things, and enjoying things like pizza and beer.
People say the second to men mainly, sometimes women, for them to act more like mainstream views of women, like making their home look pretty, showing affection, and taking care of children.
The belief behind masculine and feminine sides
When you suggest a woman act on her “masculine side” you’re suggesting she’s doing something unnatural for a woman.
When you suggest a man act on his “feminine side” you’re suggesting he’s doing something unnatural for a man.
You may say you don’t mean these things, but you can’t force people to interpret things your way.
A different belief
You can look at the world how you want. I used to look at it that way, but no longer.
The way I see it now is that what a man does is masculine. He doesn’t have a “feminine side.” If he shows affection to a baby, he isn’t acting like a woman. He’s acting like himself, which means like a man. If you think he’s not acting like a man, you’re entitled, but I think you’re undervaluing men.
Likewise, what a woman does is feminine. She doesn’t have a “masculine side.” If she plays football, she isn’t acting like a man. She’s acting like herself, which means like a woman. If you think she’s not acting like a woman, you’re entitled, but I think you’re undervaluing women.
We all recognize everyone does some things. Eating, breathing, sleeping, talking, etc, we all do and don’t consider it masculine or feminine. No one would say it’s unmanly or unwomanly to eat or sleep. More men than women may lift weights, but in my view that doesn’t mean a woman who lifts weights is acting like a man. That would miss that this woman is doing it—ipso facto, it’s something at least some women do, and, for that matter, that some men don’t.
More women than men may become nurses, but in my view that doesn’t mean a male nurse is acting like a woman. That misses that this man is doing it—ipso facto, at least some men do it, and many women don’t.
In my view, this man is not acting feminine, nor getting in touch with his “feminine side”:
He’s doing what men do. And it’s not just the firefighting outfit that makes him masculine. This man, in my view, is just as much a man:
I suggest that someone who sees this picture as a man in touch with his “feminine side” undervalues men and masculinity.
Likewise, in my view, this woman is not acting masculine, nor getting in touch with her “masculine side”:
She’s doing what women do. And it’s not just the short shorts that makes her feminine. This woman, in my view, is just as much a woman:
I suggest that someone who sees this picture as a woman in touch with her “masculine side” undervalues women and femininity.
What difference does it make?
Longtime readers will notice I’m not defining masculinity and femininity. I’m describing my beliefs. Nor am I suggesting you adopt my beliefs.
I’m suggesting that “masculine sides” and “feminine sides” are beliefs with no tangible reality except in people’s heads. If you feel holding those beliefs improves your life, I won’t stop you, but my experience has shown me that they constrain people’s thinking and inhibit their freedom to behave and express themselves freely.
Behaving and expressing yourself freely, when not hurting others, ranks near what I value most. Labeling things ranks low.
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