Femininity also called womanliness or girlishness is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women and girls. Although femininity is socially constructed, [1] research indicates that some behaviors considered feminine are biologically influenced. Traits traditionally cited as feminine include gentleness , empathy , humility , and sensitivity , [7] [8] [9] though traits associated with femininity vary across societies and individuals, [10] and are influenced by a variety of social and cultural factors. Despite the terms femininity and masculinity being in common usage, there is little scientific agreement about what femininity and masculinity are. Tara Williams has suggested that modern notions of femininity in English speaking society began during the English medieval period at the time of the bubonic plague in the s. Prudence Allen has traced how the concept of "woman" changed during this period. In , French intellectual Simone de Beauvoir wrote that "no biological, psychological or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society" and "one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman," [19] an idea that was picked up in by Canadian-American sociologist Erving Goffman [20] and in by American philosopher Judith Butler , [21] who theorized that gender is not fixed or inherent but is rather a socially defined set of practices and traits that have, over time, grown to become labelled as feminine or masculine. Scientific efforts to measure femininity and masculinity were pioneered by Lewis Terman and Catherine Cox Miles in the s. Their M—F scale was adopted by other researchers and psychologists. These models posited that femininity and masculinity were innate and enduring qualities, not easily measured, opposite to one another, and that imbalances between them led to mental disorders. Alongside the women's movement of the s, researchers began to move away from the M—F model, developing an interest in androgyny. Using such tests, researchers found that the two dimensions varied independently of one another, casting doubt on the earlier view of femininity and masculinity as opposing qualities [24]. Second-wave feminists , influenced by de Beauvoir, believed that although biological differences between females and males were innate, the concepts of femininity and masculinity had been culturally constructed, with traits such as passivity and tenderness assigned to women and aggression and intelligence assigned to men. Traits such as nurturance, sensitivity, sweetness, [14] supportiveness, [10] [7] gentleness, [7] [8] warmth, [10] [8] passivity, cooperativeness, expressiveness, [24] modesty, humility, empathy, [7] affection, tenderness, [10] and being emotional, kind, helpful, devoted, and understanding [8] have been cited as stereotypically feminine. The defining characteristics of femininity vary between and even within societies. The relationship between feminine socialization and heterosexual relationships has been studied by scholars, as femininity is related to women's and girls' sexual appeal to men. Scholars have debated the extent to which gender identity and gender-specific behaviors are due to socialization versus biological factors. In , researchers such as John Money and Anke Erhardt proposed the prenatal hormone theory. Their research argues that sexual organs bathe the embryo with hormones in the womb, resulting in the birth of an individual with a distinctively male or female brain; this was suggested by some to "predict future behavioral development in a masculine or feminine direction". People who exhibit a combination of both masculine and feminine characteristics are considered androgynous , and feminist philosophers have argued that gender ambiguity may blur gender classification. Mary Vetterling-Braggin argues that all characteristics associated with femininity arose from early human sexual encounters which were mainly male-forced and female-unwilling, because of male and female anatomical differences. Hanegraaff, argue that the definition of femininity is the result of how females must behave in order to maintain a patriarchal social system. In his book Masculinity and Femininity: the Taboo Dimension of National Cultures , Dutch psychologist and researcher Geert Hofstede wrote that only behaviors directly connected with procreation can, strictly speaking, be described as feminine or masculine, and yet every society worldwide recognizes many additional behaviors as more suitable to females than males, and vice versa. He describes these as relatively arbitrary choices mediated by cultural norms and traditions, identifying "masculinity versus femininity" as one of five basic dimensions in his theory of cultural dimensions. Hofstede describes as feminine behaviors such as "service", "permissiveness", and "benevolence", and describes as feminine those countries stressing equality, solidarity, quality of work-life , and the resolution of conflicts by compromise and negotiation. In Carl Jung 's school of analytical psychology , the anima and animus are the two primary anthropomorphic archetypes of the unconscious mind. The anima and animus are described by Jung as elements of his theory of the collective unconscious , a domain of the unconscious that transcends the personal psyche. In the unconscious of the male, it finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of the female, it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus. In Western cultures, the ideal of feminine appearance has traditionally included long, flowing hair, clear skin, a narrow waist, and little or no body hair or facial hair. For example, in many parts of the world, underarm hair is not considered unfeminine. These feminine ideals of beauty have been criticized as restrictive, unhealthy, and even racist. In many Muslim countries, women are required to cover their heads with a hijab veil. It is considered a symbol of feminine modesty and morality. Cultural standards vary on what is considered feminine. For example, in 16th century France, high heels were considered a distinctly masculine type of shoe, though they are currently considered feminine. In Ancient Egypt , sheath and beaded net dresses were considered female clothing, while wraparound dresses, perfumes , cosmetics, and elaborate jewelry were worn by both men and women. In Ancient Persia , clothing was generally unisex , though women wore veils and headscarves. Women in Ancient Greece wore himations ; and in Ancient Rome women wore the palla , a rectangular mantle, and the maphorion. The typical feminine outfit of aristocratic women of the Renaissance was an undershirt with a gown and a high-waisted overgown, and a plucked forehead and beehive or turban-style hairdo. Body alteration is the deliberate altering of the human body for aesthetic or non-medical purpose.

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