As feminists, we're often talking about how we need to stop expecting women to be feminine, and that's important. But we also shouldn't imply that being feminine is a bad thing — because it's not. There are many feminine things we need to stop trivializing, because if we take a good, hard look at them, we're devaluing them not for any good reason but because they're associated with women.
I've been guilty of this myself. At one point, I viewed stay-at-home moms, female celebrities who posed nude for magazines, and other women in stereotypically feminine roles as holding women back. But this attitude serves to either victim-blame women for following the societal role that was prescribed for them or shame them for their choices when they are not, in fact, victims. It also alienates women from feminism by making them feel like bad feminists if they make choices that coincide with their gender roles. Plus, when you look at the roots of these judgments, you realize that we tend to trivialize roles typically held by women due to societal misogyny.
Here are a few feminine things that we need to stop trivializing and start valuing — because there's really nothing wrong with people of any gender being feminine.
One of the reasons we judge stay-at-home moms so much is that we view parenting as less intellectual, less impressive, and less demanding than conventional jobs. But raising a human — especially a smart, kind, capable one — is no easy feat. Maybe if we took parenting seriously, both moms and dads would feel more comfortable prioritizing it over work if it suited them.
Crafts, interior decorating, baking, and other homemaking skills are considered trivial skills... while art, architecture, and cooking professionally are considered highly respectable. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that the former roles are female-dominated while the latter ones are male-dominated. Yet they require many of the same abilities. Homemaking takes talent.
"She cares a lot about looks" is a common criticism, especially of models, actresses, and other women in industries that require them to focus on their looks. Women are also sometimes considered shallow and superficial for being interested in fashion and beauty. But these can be intellectual, creative pursuits, and they're sure not trivial when they're paying someone's bills.
Caring a lot about relationships is often viewed as a sign of weakness, but it can also be a sign of strength. Americans tend to believe work should be your number-one priority, probably in part because it's most often associated with men, but our relationships can be just as valuable and important, regardless of our gender.
We're often taught not to act based on our emotions and to think rationally instead, as if the two can't go hand in hand. We probably devalue emotions in part because they're considered feminine, and we devalue femininity in part because it's associated with emotions. But often, our emotions are wiser than our rational minds, and emotional intelligence is a type of intelligence. In general, if something seems like it's just obviously better than something else, we need to question that, because there are often ideas about gender at play.