When the term ‘masculinity’ comes to mind, it’s often associated with the male gender. However, the definition of masculinity is learned behaviors that men are expected to follow according to what the social norm declares as how men should act. Therefore, it isn’t restricted to only males, but merely an idea applied to this specific gender.
So, what about us females? There are women with short hair, wearing suits, driving monster trucks, doing IT or engineering as their careers, running for positions as world leaders, and so many more that most people perceive as “male dominant”. Though seen as something peculiar, masculinity is still pretty frequent for females to adopt.
The assumption most people have when they see women that act, dress, and look more masculine is that they’re either homosexual, transgender, or both. Though it might be true for some women, expressing masculinity is not necessarily related to a woman’s sexuality, and some could do that while also enjoying being dolled up from time to time. There are a lot of grey areas between femininity and masculinity, so people embracing the qualities of both sets of behaviors should be normal.
How are Females Embracing Masculinity?
1. Physical Appearance
How we present ourselves to the public is our own choice, and there are so many options for hairstyles and clothing out there available. Some may go all out on the hair and get a buzz cut or a pixie cut because long hair can be quite a hassle. Some may also prefer wearing oversized shirts, sweatpants, baggy jeans, jordans, while others may like wearing full-on suits and leather shoes while carrying backpacks or briefcases instead of purses. In fact, aside from clothes made purposely to be gender-neutral, there is menswear for women. Brands like Wales Bonner and Telfar have made their menswear fit female bodies without accentuating the chest or hips as most womenswear do.
I, myself, shop in the men’s section sometimes just because clothes in the men’s section match who I am better. However, embracing masculinity as a woman doesn’t mean you have to present yourself looking like a man. I have long hair, I sometimes like wearing dresses, I also would put on lipstick at times. But I also own combat boots, flannels, hoodies, beanies, caps, clothes in general that people associate with men more than women in my wardrobe. Feeling comfortable with your body and how you look is much more important compared to following what the social norm dictates.
2. Mind & Body
Our body language reflects how we think. Biologically, men’s brains may be wired differently compared to women’s, but our thought processes are also influenced by the environment around us and how we identify ourselves as we grow up. The people we look up to, the hobbies we take up, the celebrities we follow, the shows we watch would all have an influence on shaping our character.
For instance, my role model in life is my father. He’s the kind of person I strive to be like, and with him sharing his experiences with me, I find myself thinking and acting a lot like him as I grow up. With that mindset inspired by the male role model I have, that led me to start finding interest in what’s deemed as more masculine things. I grew a love for rap music, slasher horror movies, game consoles, cars, and extreme sports. I have little to no interest in makeup, the fashion trend, and beauty standards. All in all, this is what makes me who I am.
Believe it or not, expressing cardinal emotions can be identified between masculine and feminine by the person’s reactions to that emotion. According to Becca Puglisi, bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus, there are different sets of emotional expressions for each category. Although the book is used for assisting in writing, it still gave a clear picture of the differences between masculine and feminine ways of expressing cardinal emotions. Masculine-identifying generally acts on impulse with their use of motor skills, conveying emotions bodily more than verbally, and tries to take control corresponding to the emotions. As for feminine-identifying, it shows more intuitive thinking, verbal expressions, obvious changes in behaviors, and dramatic reactions.
People can be a combination of both, either swaying towards masculine or feminine for specific emotions. I act feminine for positive emotions, like squealing when I am surprised or swing my limbs when happy. But then I would react more masculine for more negative emotions, such as forcing myself to be calm if angry or withholding tears if I feel like crying. How people behave based on their emotions is their ways of coping with them, so it shouldn’t fall into any gender-based category for people to judge on human emotional reactions.
Mix Femininity and Masculinity
Humans in general are diverse. Even when divided into two genders, the identities within these categories vary. There are multiple labels for different masculine women, like butch, masculine-of-center, gender-neutral, androgynous, studs, gender-fluid, etc. However, that doesn’t mean the more feminine women can’t let out their masculinity as well. Not to mention, this system is flawed with contradictions like how cooking is associated with females but being a chef is another male-dominant profession. Women can do just as much as men and vice versa. Our gender is not going to hinder us from demonstrating our fullest potential as who we are.