Rewind one or two hundred years………….
Its autumn and the women and girls of a small community are all crowded into a big kitchen with pots of water boiling and big baskets of tomatoes waiting to be blanched…its canning day……
A new mother is about to give birth. Attending her are 2 midwives, her closest neighbor, her sister, mother, and her sister’s teenage daughter….
A group of women sit around a fire each with needle in hand putting the finishing touches on a patchwork quilt while their children play and the older girls help by holding yarn and patches….
Several women and their daughters, all from the same Church, finish placing food on long tables for the Church’s community dinner….
A member of a small rural community is ill. Several women and their daughters prepare soup and bake bread and then bring it to the sick person….
In a big city the wealthy women are preparing for a ball. They are all crowded into the large powder room of a mansion getting dressed, putting on make up and adorning themselves with jewels, feathers, and perfume while their daughters and cousins watch with big eyes, wishing they were older…
These scenarios might sound quaint, and they may conjure images of happy ladies going about the cute, womanly tasks of a bygone era, but they also hold a great truth for us today, and evidence of what it is we are missing in our culture.
Each of these scenarios represents an opportunity for girls to learn and experience what being a woman is all about. They were opportunities for being immersed in femininity, and it was at times like these that girls could internalize just what being feminine was all about.
You see, it is very difficult to communicate with words what femininity is and how you know ‘you got it.’ It is not like manhood, which many sociologists and psychologists agree is “Bestowed” (think of the Native American rituals that involve young boys going out on a hunt all by themselves, and when they return they are declared to be a “Man”…even their own mothers pretend not to know them because they are no longer ‘their little boys.’) There is no ritualistic passing on of femininity. Sure, some cultures celebrate the beginning of fertility in a girl, but these rituals are more of an affirmation and a celebration of her blossoming and fulfilling her womanhood, not a bestowing of it. She isn’t considered to be a “new person”, just a more fulfilled version of the one she was before.
This makes it hard for us to define femininity. I wish I could sit here and type out, “If you do A and B, then X, Y and Z, with a hop, skip and a jump, presto – welcome to womanhood, you are living out your gift of femininity!”
But no. Instead we struggle with the idea that we, of course, are female, we are women, and yet we feel a little lost in the femininity department. “If I wear pearls and skirts, then will I be feminine?” “Can I be feminine and be a successful businesswoman?” “What does it mean, this femininity thing?”
Even writing this post I am struggling because femininity is something that is absorbed, its breathed in by little girls as soon as they take their first breathe and snuggle on their mother’s breast. This breathing in, this absorbtion of femininity continues. In latter days it wasn’t even thought about because a young girl would almost always be near her mother or another close female relative – until she was married.
Fast forward to the present.
Broken homes, day care, afterschool programs, a constant bombardment of messages that all convey the same idea: “You can be JUST LIKE men!” “You aren’t worth anything if you don’t have a job.” “You have to be better than a man to get ahead.” “Its a man’s world, work hard.” “You can have it all – a career and a family.” and conversly we are constantly being reminded that in order to a woman worth anything we must “Be skinny!” “Be beautiful!” “Wear the right clothes.” “Be good in bed.” …need I go on?
What an incredible paradox! “Be like a man….but be beautiful and skinny too…?” The problem with all of these messages is that they do not bring us one iota closer to the feminine beings that we really are. Being Feminine, being a woman is NOT about such superficialities such make- up, earrings, and waist size. Nor is it about being the CEO in a power skirt-suit. Womanhood, Femininity is something that exudes from us. It is mysterious, it is an essence. It can’t be sprayed on, it can’t be applied.
This is our difficulty. A few hundred years ago women didn’t even thinkabout trying to define femininity. It was just who they were. A girl grew up surrounded by the feminine influence of her mother, her sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends, etc. She absorbed and learned. She was affirmed and encouraged. She blossomed. Nowadays it seems as if we have to fight for our femininity just as much as our neo-feminists fought for the right to act just like men. ( I say neo-femininsts to refer to those women who today are less concerned with the feminine and preserving womanhood, and the right of equal dignity, and more concerned with besting, beating, and demonizing men).
And so we are back to the question: What IS Femininity? How do we know we have it, and why am I so convinced that there is a crisis in our culture that makes it necessary to revive it?
This, dear ladies, is why the Daughters of the Heavenly King exists. That is why it is structured with the intent of forming a little ‘community’ (the Court) where femininity can be cultivated and experienced and awakened. As it once was. Only we are in the year 21st Century and its only fitting that our experiences reflect that. (C’mon now, you didn’t think I was going to suggest we all stuff ourselves into corsets and spend all day long sewing did you?)
What is Femininity? It is your gift. It is how you were created to be, it is who you are, and it is waiting to be cultivated, and to blossom. Is there a crisis of femininity? Yes. The biggest evidence of that is that I have to even ask the question. Why is it necessary for us to bring about a revitalization and to reclaim our feminine gift? For that you must stay tuned 🙂
In the meantime….
Welcome to the Daughters of the Heavenly King!