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femininitythe characteristics associated with the female sex. The historical (often masculinist) study of femininity documents feminine identity linked to passivity nurturing, co-operation, gentleness and relation to motherhood, with an emphasis upon the relegation of women to the private sphere, the sphere of domesticity Feminists and sociologists have challenged the stereotypes relating to ‘femininity’, ‘feminine identity’ and the binary categories man/mind, woman/nature which dominate many conceptions of sexual difference, including the reduction of sociocultural processes to biological givens. For French feminist theorists (e.g. CIXOUS, KRISTEVA) ‘feminine’ is an arbitrary category given to woman's appearance or behaviour by patriarchy For Sue Lees (Sugar and Spice: Sexuality and Adolescent Girls, 1993), changing the social constructions of masculinity and femininity will mean a fundamental shift in our conceptions of femininity and MASCULINITY within the context of dominant conceptions of rationality and morality
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
perfect maidenhood; epithet of Elizabeth I. [Br. Lit.: Faerie Queene]
personification of femininity. [Br. Lit.: Sir Launcelot Greaves]
winner of beauty contest; femininity high among virtues desired. [Am. Hist.: Payton, 445]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.