Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

Overloading: "Feminine"; also, rants on logic

Commented to boojum, here, about the overloading of the word "feminine", thus causing mass confusion. I take the same points and elaborate here.

"Feminine" is generally understood to mean things relating to or typical of women. But, where to draw the lines?

It means:

In the aggregate:
Things (emotions, behaviours, tasks, attributes) traditionally culturally associated with females in the society.
Things that are in practice associated with females in the society.
Things that females are biologically associated or equipped with.
Things that females are typically psychologically/mentally equipped/hampered with in the society.
Tasks that females do well.

And in the specific:
The physical, psychological, mental, biological, preferred, practiced, traits associated with one or more particular females.

It's a very overloaded word, with gaps between the definitions. They do not overlap well; the traits that the culture associates with the traditional female role may not match up well with the female role as practiced in the culture, and any given female may match up with any or none of the varied definitions.

A pet peeve of mine involves the logical fallacy of assuming that because the aggregate generally possesses a trait, that the specific will conform to the norms of the aggregate. Um, no. It doesn't work that way.

Example: Women are good at ironing. azurelunatic is a woman. azurelunatic is good at ironing. The fallacy is that there is an implied "all women are good at ironing", rather than the actual state of "many women are good at ironing." In point of fact, azurelunatic is very bad at ironing.

Likewise, the extrapolation to a large group from a sole or small-group example irritates me. "I met some Canadians on one game server. They were all bitches to me. All Canadians are assholes," is one such train of logic I encountered. (IRC. 2000.) Um, no. That has two flaws in sampling I can see right there: all examples were gathered from one server, and all examples were gathered by one observer. That proves that all Canadians on that game server were assholes to the observer. The credit for the behaviour could go to Canada, the server, or the observer (who was, from what I saw, no prize himself.) (Incidentally, PudStuppy, if you read this, you suck, unless you actually grew up, which I doubt.)

And then there's the question of which culture, and what counts as female for the record anyway.

Culturally feminine varies; I would hardly expect the cultural expectations for being a "proper" woman would be the same in the deep South as they are up in Alaska; ability to put one's own chains and winter tires on oneself are probably not as prized traits to be bragged about in the mate places other than the deep North.

One would think that "female" would be inarguable: they come with standard equipment, no? Well, no. On my friends list alone, we have:

  • transgendered m to f (lists self as female)

  • transgendered f to m (lists self as male; was very incredibly hot as a chick when he was a young woman and several friends from back then are quietly pouting because she was so hot and now she's a he)

  • biologically female, mentally neuter, socially male (I think zie's as boggled on the gender-front for what to call, uh, him, as I am)

  • biologically and mentally female but not with a full complement of parts

... and probably more. Those are just the people I could think of off the top of my head who are fairly open about it.

So, yeah. The state of "feminine" is ... really, really wide.

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