Such a feminine bitch

Posted: January 14, 2009 in Family, Musings
Tags: , , , ,

Our sixteen-year-old recently berated a male friend for listening to “misogynist-crap rap.” He retaliated, calling her “such a feminine bitch.” “That would be feminist, loser!” she hooted. “lol!”

The exchange got me thinking about the perceived difference between the two words.

“Feminine” comes from the Latin femina meaning woman, and is defined by my Compact Oxford dictionary as “having qualities traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.”

Oh my.  And here I was thinking that the qualities traditionally associated with women were things like breast-feeding (Rose of Sharon’s gift to a starving man in The Grapes of Wrath), intelligence (ala Jane Austen’s heroines), maternal love (the anguish of Sophie’s Choice), and resourcefulness (Scarlett O’Hara making a ballgown out of curtains). And that’s without going into those skills too often denied to the male of the species, like the ability to multi-task, or indeed, find the minced garlic in the refrigerator.

Beauty too, belongs on the list, for its full-throated roar at the titters of prettiness. So does sexiness, which my gorgeous husband believes is found in the lush bounty of hips and thighs, not in the delicate bonyness of the fashionably emaciated. Oh, and let’s not forget my own guilty pleasure when it comes to feminine qualities: bitchiness. I’ve been a sucker for the deadly riposte ever since Margot Asquith corrected Jean Harlow’s mispronunciation of her christian name: “The ‘t’ is silent, as in Harlow.”

My traitorous dictionary doesn’t quote the latin root for feminist, merely citing it as a derivative of feminism: “a movement or theory supporting women’s rights on the grounds of equality of the sexes.”

Sounds neither pretty, nor delicate.  Worthy, yes, but about as appealing as orthodics when everyone else is wearing those cute little peep-toes, kitten heels or stilettos.

But the good thing about being a writer is that we can help build a new understanding of feminism and femininity.

I have never ascribed to the Shakespearean “Frailty, thy name is woman,” bless my feminist heart, but I do have a soft spot for the feminine, albeit, under my own terms.

So let’s hear it for the broad church of feminine beauty over the narrow bigotry of mass media images, the strength of the female mind and heart over outdated beliefs about oestrogen-induced delicacy.

That’s how I like my feminine bitches and that’s how I like to write them. Full of complexity and vulnerability and the redemptive power of our sex.

  1. Can’t wait to read ‘Dust’, Chris! I reckon you’re a woman after my own heart. 🙂

  2. The list of ‘traditional qualities’ you put forward is magnificent. Watching my wife with our children is a daily reminder of how much smarter, more tolerant and patient she is, but also how cunning she can be too.
    I also agree with your husband on the bounty of proper hips n thighs. Though bein the fat wee man that I am, it’d downright cheeky for me to think otherwise.
    But, and hey this is the but of my comments here, I can watch the football and eat and talk on the phone all at the same time. I can drink beer and play golf and laugh at my mates all at the same time. I can drive my car, listen to music and think about things which are totally unrelated all at the same time, though if someone phones I generally have to turn the music down (should I have said pull over?). I can also change a nappy and sing twinkle twinkle and think about what the wee yin will be eating next all at the same time and I can actively not listen to my wife while I’m engaged in activities like watching TV or playing the Wii. So, yes I can multi-task. (Let’s here it for the boys.) Sometimes, I can even find the minced garlic in the fridge, so Nana nana na naa. And as for bein a source of bitchin material…, well let’s leave it there. Just don’t be thinking you’re totally all that n that.
    know what I mean?

  3. chrisbongers says:

    lol – You are so versatile – Your wife, cunning thing that she is, must be so proud!

    C x

    PS You’re not going to like this, but you are so wasted writing for soccer-mad blokes. The other half of humanity would love to read what you write. Take care, C.

  4. kind words indeed. Thank you. You’re no too shabby yersel’.

    I just wanted to let you know that I’ve posted a link to your blog on my friend’s…it’s about trade agreements, cheap books and the consequences.

  5. chrisbongers says:

    Jeez, you must be psychic – I’m working on my letter to the Productivity Commission as we speak. Submissions close 20 Jan. Thanks for the link. 🙂

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