What does it mean to be

“Most queer women are open and accepting. But that doesn’t mean we’re safe from the insulting tropes about feminine women.” — https://www.elitedaily.com/dating/femme-lesbian-misconception-myth-dating/1987140

“Femme is connected to emotional labor and healing. It’s based on the energy you put into the world, the connection you make with people and the care you have for them. It’s allowing a particular kind of tenderness to be part of your identity.” — https://www.autostraddle.com/what-we-mean-when-we-say-femme-a-roundtable-341842/

“Being femme is a process of unlearning the reasons to hold my tongue while being faced with the risk of speaking up.”

I wondered if I would have enjoyed being a woman more when I was younger if I didn’t think it would get in the way of my success.” — https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wander-woman/201012/what-does-it-mean-be-feminine

What does femininity mean to you?

Been researching all morning about what it means to be feminine. What does it mean to be a woman, in light of a conversation last night with a good friend of mine. I thought I need to research this further to see if I am indeed misogynistic or whether there is something else in search of a gender ID for myself. 

I have been wondering about this and have started to look at women in a more scientific light. I am AFAB, but have been wondering what it means to be feminine. I have thought that it meant that one was into stereotypically more “female” like behaviors, such as caring and nurturing while being into clothes and nails, freaking out over weird feminine things like when some designer comes out with some dress design, wearing dresses, and things like that. That was my prior conclusion regarding that. I have never really been into that, except maybe makeup as it fascinated me that I could become someone totally different than who I was in my day to day life. Yet, this is something that has always fascinated me: how to hide, how to wear a mask, how to be a social chameleon and the art of deception. How can I fool those around me? How can I set them off my scent? I guess you can say that’s what intrigued me about the “feminine arts”. Perhaps that is why I distanced myself from all that. Perhaps I equated all that with deception, and I tried to make myself more honest a few years back. Could I have combined the two and thought them one in the same?  That to be feminine meant that I was to be deceptive? I was more feminine back in the day, reminding myself to put on my makeup and walk out the door looking fabulous in hopes of catching someone’s eye. Because my entire purpose was focused on having a mate, having someone to appreciate me. However, when I did find someone, I would be rid of them not too long after I initially started dating them. I was afraid of getting close. There was this anxiety that developed that they would find out I’m a fraud. But what fraud was I committing? That question I could never answer. I knew I was hiding something, but that something was hidden so well that not even I could find it. Is this what it is: that I am indeed not a woman? But if that’s the case, then why do I often doubt it so often and so much? 
I might be able to attribute that to societal and familial pressures. Other people have been telling me my whole life on how to interact and how to blend into society. How to behave, how to act, how to make sure that no one knows. But no one knows what? Did… have other people known about this? Did others see this before I did and try to suppress it? By forcing me into dresses I did not want to wear but wore anyway to appease and please? I felt pretty in those dresses. I felt pretty when I had my makeup on for proms and homecomings. But there was a part of me that got to pretend I was someone else during those times. Who/what I was pretending not to be, I… maybe that’s it. But my only thought was that someone would pay attention to me finally and let me know that I was accepted. I wanted someone to see through me and accept me. Was that as a female or as a male? Did I hope that someone would see through my deception and tell me what/who I was even though I couldn’t see it for myself? I knew that these stereotypically female aspects would present me as female due to society’s expectation of the gender binary: long hair, makeup, nails painted, classically feminine cut clothing, even my laugh was tailored. My voice still fluctuates depending on who I’m talking to what my subconscious thinks. I will tailor my words and speech patterns depending on who I’m talking to. But then that throws me off. Who’s talking here? Is it me? Is it me, the woman, or me, the man? Or is there something there that I have not even thought of? 
This is why I started researching on what femininity means. From what I have gathered, it means that one is nurturing, empathetic, and inclusive (not so sure about that one. My experience has said otherwise). Here are some other adjectives I found: multi-tasking, emotional, empathetic, strong, intuitive, compassionate, relationship building, verbal, consensus building, collaborative, and gossipy. I guess in that regard, I have some feminine traits. I’m not so emotional (exes have noted time and time again the “Board of Directors” when conflict arises). And I try to avoid gossip as much as possible, seeing what it does and how bonding through such negatives means entails a terrible setup for any sort of relationship. I would not consider myself intuitive (my Myers-Briggs (INTP/J) says otherwise, but take that result with a grain of salt). Verbal? I’m lucky I can communicate via text sometimes. My mind becomes overwhelmed in many situations and then I can’t communicate efficiently to save my life. I hate being overly sensitive. I need better coping mechanisms. 
But the other traits, yeah I can get behind those. That’s how I work in my job. I collaborate; I get input from others. I try to extrapolate on others’ experiences to get the job done. I understand I don’t know everything, which is why I keep people in the wings that know a thing or two that I don’t. I can rely on them to relay that info and then I can make a decision based on that information and my own experiences. That’s how I operate. 
The masculine characteristics I can see are thus: strong, arrogant, intelligent, ego-driven, bravado, powerful, dominant, assertive, single-tasking, focused, competitive, stubborn, physical, self-righteous and direct. This is much more negative light in my research. 
But then I came across this: “But what exactly is a “masculine” style? According to Cummings, men tend to be more task-oriented while women take on a more interpersonal style of leadership. Therefore, a “masculine” style tends toward assertive and task-based behaviors, while a “feminine” style is more relationship oriented and “democratic.” 
I guess you can say that I have a more masculine style of leadership, focusing on tasks at hand. But then I use a democratic style in order to get more complex tasks done, wherein the extrapolation is used. 
So then, now that all this has been compiled, what can I conclude about what femininity is? I think it’s less about the shallower aspects such as hair and makeup, which I’m sure comprise some small part of it but not all of it. I think society has focused so much on the binary representation of what gender means that it has been completely lost on the deeper aspects of it. But even these other classically “feminine” personality aspects that deepen societal interactions are crossing into what it means to be “masculine”, or what it means to be a man. So is there really a difference in an objective sense of what these two duelling forces mean? I don’t believe there is, which is why this is so confusing to me. Lately, the New Age culture has touted the importance of balance and integrating both aspects into oneself, both from the feminine side and the masculine side of the classical binary structure, but what about those that don’t fall into that? It’s restricting to think in these regards of having only two to go to. I guess I don’t want to have to do that. I don’t want to be referred to as “she”. It quite frankly annoys me, but it happens every day. And unless I’m game to school EVERYONE on a personal aspect of myself that honestly the other person very likely does NOT care about, then why bother wasting my breath? Most people are honestly trying to be polite and not meaning to offend me. After all, how can anyone tell that I’m trying to express my transmasculine persona without having to be called, “ma’am”? I hate that word. I’m not 65. I’m not your elder. I’m not a woman. But I have to deal with it. I don’t present woman characteristics like I used to, probably because I got tired of accommodating everyone. I’m burnt out, and now I’m just a jaded guy that doesn’t really care anymore. I don’t care about putting on a mask and deceiving others. I only care about hiding because I know there are people out there that would want to kill me… but even then I know how to stay away from those areas to where that’s not necessary. But just in case…. 
I guess my answer to that question of femininity is that it’s more about what society has dictated over the years in order to keep order, in order to create less confusion and a more “stable” environment for those who hold the binary and keep to the binary to create easier understanding. With trans* people in the picture, that crystal clear lake now becomes murkier. We can’t see the water below and that frightens us. And with such an antiquated understanding of what femininity means, it has only been to ensure that cis men don’t become confused and their own cherished “manliness” does not become questioned, lest it demeans one’s fragile authority and has them killed or objectified and dominated by other men (whoever that entails). I think this has become an apologetic rhetoric towards other cis men that adhere to this binary (not in a spectrum or universe) in order to maintain an order that many of us no longer agree with… or can’t agree with. I’m trying here not to sound prejudiced towards cis people, but words escape me right now. My point is that the system I’ve been looking into is archaic. It’s completely outdated and needs to be updated. It’s based on a system that tells others who they can f**k in order to reproduce (my ex was good on that point), and to assign and design oneself in order to demarcate who’s who. That’s why I have been having such trouble with trying to define myself. I do not adhere to any conventions in the feminine realm, yet I exhibit some feminine characteristics. Whether that’s due to others programming me to act in this fashion or whether it’s implicit I don’t know. That right there is my question. I do exhibit personality traits that women exhibit. Yet my mannerisms dictate a more masculine persona. Now, did I learn those, or are those innate as well? 
Either way, femininity is less about dress and style and more about personality in my opinion. I’m not sure I can get the whole “feeling” thing, as I am yet to understand how that works. That’s the only reason is that I don’t understand it. If someone out there knows more, please let me know. Maybe then I can understand what it means to “feel” like a woman. Is it confidence when one does those things? I’m not sure. But this is what I have so far. 

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