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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Femininities

ALEXANDRA NUTTER SMITH

University of Washington–Tacoma, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs117

The various manifestations of gender identity presented by people who identify as women are collectively called femininities. Such manifestations may include particular mannerisms, modes of dress, and a range of behaviors relating to interpersonal relationships and social roles. While essentialized views of gender identity along a masculine-feminine dichotomy are still common, awareness and acceptance of nontraditional and transgressive modes of femininity are growing. Thus the word is pluralized to indicate the existence of more than one femininity rather than a one-size-fits-all mode. (This is similar to the way that the word feminism is often transformed into “feminisms” in order to recognize the impossibility of having one feminism that addresses the concerns of all women.) Femininities calls to mind the potential differences between life experiences for women of different intersectional identities; women's lived realities may differ based on identity traits like ethnicity, age, ability, and sexuality, necessitating recognition of different types of femininity.

Thus there are many forms of femininity (many femininities), but the traits that have historically been deemed most acceptable in patriarchal society include beauty, softness, compassion, and nurturing; traits associated with masculinity, on the other hand, include strength, aggressiveness, competitiveness, and ...

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