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Richard

>>> [ … ] femininity becomes unfeminist if it stops you from doing something you would otherwise want to do.

Immaturity does too. The “offense” isn’t being feminine, but rather not knowing yourself or not having enough confidence to be yourself if you do know yourself. These are issues of emotional development having little to do with feminism. If the fashion trend is masculine edginess rather than feminine innocence, for instance, and you go along with the trend despite the fact that you secretly long to show more femininity, then you still have a problem. That problem’s called immaturity.

Natasha

I think, actually, issues of emotional development do cut to the heart of feminism. Because of the social-conditioning (or whatever you like to call it) of young girls and women, it is actually far harder for women to a) know ourselves and b) have enough confidence.

Richard

>>> Because of the social-conditioning (or whatever you like to call it) of young girls and women, it is actually far harder for women to a) know ourselves and b) have enough confidence.

Social conditioning is going to happen whenever humans live in communities, so I’m not sure how far you can blame such conditioning on this issue. And maturity is mostly a process of experience plus temperament. I’m suggesting that even if a society had reach feminist nirvana you would still have people that don’t know themselves and lack in confidence. That is, implementing feminist principles and values isn’t suddenly going to make all young women wonderfully mature. That’s the reason I wondered above whether this is really a feminist issue or whether it’s one of human development instead.

Natasha

I see what you're getting at.
But I think the fact that, in my observation at least, women suffer from lesser confidence and lower self-knowledge more commonly than men - meaning that there is a gender-skewed incidence of the two things. I would put that current skewing down to the way our society grows girls.
This doesn't mean that in the hypothetically feminist nirvana a mix of men and women wouldn't still be low in confidence and self-knowledge - the hope would be that it would be evenly distributed between the genders.

Natasha

sorry, I've missed out a word. It should read: "But I think the fact is that..."

The Happy Feminist

I think maturity can play into how a person reacts to social conditioning or social circumstances.

But I wouldn't dismiss the pressures women have traditionally faced and continue to face as things that are necessarily so easy to overcome by maturity and common sense (although those things can help). If your life is saturated with people focusing on how you look, and either rewarding or punishing you for it, it's not necessarily immature to respond by being pretty concerned about how you look.

The degree of pressure on a woman will vary of course depending on her culture or other circumstances. For example, my mother is not immature but her self-worth is far more tied to her appearance than mine because she is of a generation and class of women whose entire destiny depended on the ability to attract a husband.

Sydney

Is it really true that young women have less confidence than young men? I know that idea is batted around a lot in feminist forums, but I'm not sure to what degree it's true. Young men tend to posture and act in sterotypically "manly" ways when they lack confidence, just like young women obsess about appearance and act in sterotypically female ways when they lack confidence.

I actually think that these conversations about appearance have been prety eye opening -- about how PETTY AND CATTY women can be towards each other because of idiotic things like appearance. Adult women feeling superior to other women because they don't shave and the other woman does? Or because they're wearing "sensible" shoes when the other woman is in heels? Please ladies. Less contention, more adhesion. It's just the same divisive bullshit that's always been there, it's taking a different form.

All of this comes back to the idea that you should do what you want, regardless of what the patriarchy, or WHAT OTHER WOMEN, think of you. That is independence. That is maturity. Who cares if you do it wearing lipstick.

mythago

That is, implementing feminist principles and values isn’t suddenly going to make all young women wonderfully mature.

It removes many barriers to maturity.

All of this comes back to the idea that you should do what you want

No, it comes back to the idea that you should make thoughtful, informed decisions to do what you want. What you propose is 'choice feminism', not independence.

Sydney

Well DUH decisions should be thoughful. But I'm thankful that every single decision that I make in life does not begin with the phrase, "Now what would a GOOD FEMINIST do? Would doing XYZ make me a BAD FEMINIST?" If that's your modus operandi, good for you. The rest of us have lives to lead.

Natasha

Is it really true that young women have less confidence than young men?

I can only speak from my own experience and from my perceptions of the people I have met in my life. I only have subjective data to say that yes, many dozens of young women I know have been significantly less confident in certain key power/status contexts. One example: they may be very confident about the colour of make-up they want to wear, but not confident about holding their own in a conversation.

It is also my personal experience that the more these girls/women see their situation in terms of gender rather than just 'lack of confidence' or 'immaturity', the more clearly they seem to understand their situation and the more motivated they are to act differently. For them and for me, understanding the gendering of things has been a more effective tool, if you like, for self-knowledge and self-empowerment, than thinking in terms of maturity/immaturity.

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