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Femininity and Feminine Values

Myra Macdonald


Femininity and feminine values refer to the qualities of appearance, behavior and practices conventionally attributed to women. Feminist thinking strongly endorses the view that these qualities are not innate, but exist as ideological constructs, defined in opposition to masculinity and masculine values (→  Masculinity and the Media ; News Ideologies ). The superiority ascribed to masculinity in patriarchal thinking devalues the “feminine,” despite assigning it some positive characteristics. As ideological constructs, femininity and feminine values are differently inflected in diverse cultures. White Anglo American definitions and perspectives have predominated in western writing but are being increasingly challenged by postcolonial feminist thinking (→  Feminist Media Studies, Transnational ). Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex , first published 1949, provided an early critique of the construction of the feminine woman, defining her as “an artificial product” manufactured by society's expectations and norms (1972, 428). This view gained popular dissemination with the 1963 publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1992). Friedan argued that women, denied equal education and social opportunities to men, were stereotyped as passively content to perform housewifely duties. Her attention to the role of media images in seducing women into entrapment within the home ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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