Gender Identities: Femininities

A brief overview of feminities as part of gender identities in contempraory societies.

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Types of Femininities

Femininities can differ according to class, age and ethnicity.

Blackman (1995) found that lower middle - class and working - class New Wave girls in a secondary school were a highly visible group. Membership of the group gave them strenght and confidence to use their sexuality to challenge the school's male culture and the sexism of male teachers as well as their male peers. This assertive femininity empowered them and gave them some and at the same time challenged subordinate or passive femininty where women and girls accept traditional ideas about how they should behave, being quiet, demure and submissive.

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Types of femininities (x2)

Osler and Vincent in Girls and Exclusion (2003) found that the girls they researched were less willing to pose direct challenges to authority because they didn't want to get into trouble as it could affect their reputation. For girls physical apperance was seen as important. This led them to behave in such a way which Jackson (2006b), in her study of lads and laddetes in schools, describes as normative femininity.

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Types of femininities (x3)

Seidler (2006) argues that for girls from some Asian backgrounds their expectations and perceptions of their femininity is based on the experiences within the family where they learn that their brothers are allowed to do more than they are, and they have expectations placed upon them in terms of how girls should behave. Seidler argues that these girls do not wish to dishonour their families and go against izzat ('family honour') so they often lead a double life: taking a traditional, normative, female role at home and adopting a more questionable femininity outside. Some girls have responded to the dominant ideology of how women should behave by forming a sub - cultural ideology of love and romance - an exaggeration of the traditional feminine stereotype. However, McRobbie (2007) suggests that some aspects of female sub - cultural behaviour are more rage against than resistance to the current expectations placed upon girls.

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