An interesting model for womanhood

I’ve been thinking a lot about “masculine” and “feminine” since the Women + Power conference, and about “aggressive” versus “emotional.” I’m just reading Vanessa Veselka’s essay, “The Collapsible Woman,” and she offers an interesting alternative to the strong/weak dichotomy in discussing what society expects of rape survivors. “We need to articulate a new vision that equates feminine strength not with repression and bravado, but with compassion and grit.”

Compassion and grit.

I love that. I think it’s a good workaround for my own insecurities about just how “emotional” I want to be, and what it might represent. I want a way to be a generous and loving friend, someone who cares about people, sometimes has a lover or two, can act as a mentor, sometimes needs to cry, likes doing “girly” stuff from time to time, but at the same time is proudly queer, child-free, and entirely career-oriented. I’m someone who thrives on relationships with friends and lovers, but doesn’t want a life revolving around “family,” with the implicit meaning of husband or wife + brood of children. I am happy to lead a life directed by ambition, but sometimes suffer from depression when I use that purpose to isolate myself or make being alone my cry of pride. Oh, the little white lies we tell ourselves. But I’m not prepared to say that what I truly need is the opposite of what I’ve been preaching, to “confess,” because it isn’t. I do need to be alone. I need to pursue projects, and I need to forge my path through life independently. At the same time, I need the support and love of others, holding my hands but not holding me up.

Compassion and grit. Amen, sister.

About Avory

Avory Faucette is a queer feminist activist, writer, and public speaker. Zie graduated from the University of Iowa with a JD in 2009, focusing on international human rights and gender/sexuality issues in the law. Hir current work focuses on queer identity, policy, and marginalized identities under the queer umbrella. As a genderqueer person, zie comments frequently on non-binary identity, transgender and genderqueer issues, and media coverage of these populations. Zie also speaks at colleges, universities, and events on transgender and queer issues and conducts trainings on related topics.

Posted on September 15, 2009, in gender roles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Masculon the Powerful

    I think this is an excellent framing of feminine strength. I think is equally important the need to recognize the value in masculine weakness. Males are victims too, but society has the opposite expectation. They aren’t supposed to be emotional; they aren’t supposed to break down. They aren’t supposed to feel “dirty”. We need to perpetuate the idea that ALL human beings experience hardship. That all people need to suffer. And that for everyone, constructively moving forward is a positive action.

    • alesbianandascholar

      Definitely – socialization of men and boys is something I’m very interested in, because I do think that male tendencies towards violence, projecting strength at the expense of other qualities, etc. is all wrapped up in the way boys are taught an essentialised form of masculinity in school and elsewhere. Good to see others thinking critically about this 🙂

  2. I agree; compassion isn’t a “weak” perspective.

  3. hey there. found you through twitter. i write a good deal about masculinity and femininity and this piece (particularly the parts about strength and weakness) resonated with me. if you’re interested, i recommend this piece specifically but others under “gender” and “sexuality” you might find interesting as well.


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