I know 3 girls who are or were rather negative towards the idea of femininity. They are somewhat different in their views, but the common thing seems to be that they value masculine ideals/traits more than the feminine ones. The things looked up to are usually strength, ability to be intimidating and smarts or technical abilities. Power is what is wanted. The feminine is seen as weak and less important.
It’s hard to tell why they chose to value the masculine more than the feminine, but they all have masculine fathers. One of the fathers was even abusive, constantly devaluing femininity, while the other two were decent, and looked up to by their children.
Recently I’ve been reading some feminist books and stuff on Norwegian gender studies, and they all tell about theories of how women came to be oppressed. One idea is that everything that is associated with femininity is valued less than what is associated with masculinity. Feelings are associated with women and rationality with men, and we value the latter more. That is one example. Psychologist Berit Ås suggested that there is a male culture and female culture1, and the former has more power. Masculine culture is using techniques (like shaming, making them invisible or ridiculing) to make women feel inferior, which leads to men having all the power and women being oppressed, never realizing their potential. So, is it this that makes those three girls devalue femininity and strive to be masculine? Maybe. But such a system wouldn’t work if everyone was like these girls. Patriarchy is supposed to lead to women feeling inferior and remaining in “inferior” housewife positions, instead of rebelling and deciding to be masculine instead. So either this explanation is bad, or the women in my example are exceptional2.
When I told about this to a few knowledgeable friends, they asked me if those girls were exposed to feminism. They suggested that instead of patriarchy, feminism was to blame. I can kinda see that, as some feminists really devalue traditional feminine roles and traits and tell us to be more like men – ambitious and striving for status through work. I guess these feminists help their own oppressors by putting male traits above female traits…
So what makes some women want to be men? I’m not sure, but it might very well be that mysterious “symbolic universe” feminists talk about. Certain dichotomies/ideals that exist in our culture, which constantly affect us, even if we can’t quite grasp what is making us think the way we do. Hard to grasp, but easy to see in its results. Results being unhappy people applying these ideals in a dysfunctional way.
Whatever makes women want to be men, it’s not making them happy. Thinking you’re weak and worthless because you’re a woman sucks, and I wish both traditional-minded people and feminists stopped helping women detest themselves.
- “Kjønnsforskning”, Jørgen Lorentzen&Wencke Muhleisen, page 106.
- Plus to really control someone, a good idea would be to make them believe their position is good, insead of devaluing them and making them rebel…