Female Masculinity and its validation!


When it comes to Masculinity, men are the obvious preferred choice, and masculinity is often considered as superior traits in men. Female Masculinity or Masculine women are considered ‘manly’ and society takes no interest in women who have masculine traits. There’s a clear line, dividing the two: Masculinity is for men and Femininity for women. How do we react to masculinity outside the context of men? Well, its a blur line, and hasn’t been much debated. Masculinity in women is described as women possessing masculine traits such as being masculine in appearance, performing masculine tasks and  having masculine interests, etc. Heterosexual men crave for women’s company, and Masculine women may have a hard time attracting men. 

Female Masculine traits 

Women are stereotyped as having feminine traits of submissiveness and supportiveness. Those not conforming to feminine stereotypes can be considered as masculine women. Social constructs define the role of a man and woman, directly tying gender to sex. Any deviation from feminine standard, is highly criticized and terms such as ‘gender variant’ or ‘gender deviant’ are mercilessly used. Masculine women possess-confidence, assertiveness, independence which are not biologically linked with any gender. Women may have worked up physique and may perform masculine jobs such as driving a bus which has conventionally be stereotyped as a man’s job. Such traits classify women as being masculine. 

Masculinity without men 

Judith Halberstam in his book, “Female Masculinity” delves into this issue deeper. According to Halbetrstam, Masculinity in societal perspective is hardly seen outside Men’s context. Masculinity conjures up notions of power and legitimacy and privilege. On the other hand, female masculinity is framed as the rejected scraps of dominant masculinity in order that male masculinity may appear to be the real thing. Cinema is regarded as a projection of what happens in a society. It has the tendency to influence popular culture by its topic and subjects. Bond movies are a perfect example of male masculinity where the main character, James Bond shows all sings of dominant muscularism, whereas there are no signs of any women masculine specific roles. In a nutshell, it can be said that masculine in society stereotypical notion is reserved for male while femininity for female, any overlap brings criticism and shame. 

Historical aspects related to Female Masculinity

World war II witnessed the creation of Rosie the Riveter, a figure created in the United states to promote women’s work in munitions factories which is a representation of masculine women, symbolizing strength, capacity and ambition. Women with Masculine traits are often called butch(a form of rejection of femininity in how some women choose to express themselves) and represents one of the earliest public lesbian cultures. In earlier twentieth century, butch women were generally demonized for being manly and heterogeneous men often despised them. Masculine women often have same-sex desires. Their conscious rejection of femininity leads them to be active rather than passive. 

Culture aspects related to Female Masculinity

Throughout history, women with Masculine traits have been called by different names such as drag king, drag queen, butch, etc. Masculine women have been culturally depicted as comic characters or sidekicks. Well known masculine character include Jo March in Little women, Anne Lister in tv drama series Gentleman Jack, Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Sports has seen much presence of women masculine athletes, which also triggered homophobic attitude of Conservatives. 

The future ahead

Well, everyone doesn’t play by the rules. Its normal if a woman has Masculine traits, while a man can also have feminine traits. Cross gender masculinity challenges the set of values that are subject to gatekeeping, and explores others avenues of who can masculine be or not. Showing discomfort by despising them , is a no way forward as it will only create more confusion and sadness around . Acceptance is the way forward, and by acknowledging is a way of respecting all the gender identities that have existed since forever. 

Shitij Rao
Shitij Rao

New age journalist trained at Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi, who specialises in Print, Television and Digital Journalism . Lifestyle, Politics and legal beat are my forte ! Passionate about print journalism.

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