Conflicting Femininities in Medieval German Literature

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The 'fortune' of Hartmann's Erec; 8. Historical thought and moral codes in medieval epic; 9. The Western image of Byzantium in the Middle Ages; Economies of history. What is fiction? Part III. Syllabus Studies; On coming to terms with Curtius; University German and the syllabus of studies; Notes; Publications of F. Customer Reviews Average Review. See All Customer Reviews.

Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview In making this selection of twelve essays spanning the period for this volume, Professor Pickering bore in mind that many of his recent readers are not students of German, but of comparative literature, art, history or theology, and translated three of the twelve for the occasion.

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Write a Review. Related Searches. Conflicting Femininities in Medieval German Literature. Drastic changes in lay religiosity during the High Middle Ages spurred anxiety about women forsaking Drastic changes in lay religiosity during the High Middle Ages spurred anxiety about women forsaking their secular roles as wives and mothers for religious ones as nuns and beguines.

This anxiety and the subsequent need to model an ideal of View Product. The present Festschrift serves a dual purpose: firstly, to honour Professor Joyce Hallamore for her The present Festschrift serves a dual purpose: firstly, to honour Professor Joyce Hallamore for her contribution to German studies in Canada, particularly at the University of British Columbia; secondly, to document the flourishing state of German studies in this country. This volume features sixteen thought-provoking essays by renowned international experts on German society, culture, and This volume features sixteen thought-provoking essays by renowned international experts on German society, culture, and politics that, together, provide a comprehensive study of Germany's postunification process of normalization.

Essays ranging across a variety of disciplines including politics, foreign policy, Hofstede describes as feminine behaviors such as "service", "permissiveness", and "benevolence", and describes as feminine those countries stressing equality, solidarity, quality of work-life , and the resolution of conflicts by compromise and negotiation. In Carl Jung 's school of analytical psychology , the anima and animus are the two primary anthropomorphic archetypes of the unconscious mind.

The anima and animus are described by Jung as elements of his theory of the collective unconscious , a domain of the unconscious that transcends the personal psyche. In the unconscious of the male, it finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of the female, it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus. In Western cultures, the ideal of feminine appearance has traditionally included long, flowing hair, clear skin, a narrow waist, and little or no body hair or facial hair.

For example, in many parts of the world, underarm hair is not considered unfeminine. These feminine ideals of beauty have been criticized as restrictive, unhealthy, and even racist. In many Muslim countries, women are required to cover their heads with a hijab veil. It is considered a symbol of feminine modesty and morality. Cultural standards vary a great deal on what is considered feminine. For example, in 16th century France, high heels were considered a distinctly masculine type of shoe, though they are currently considered feminine.

In Ancient Egypt , sheath and beaded net dresses were considered female clothing, while wraparound dresses, perfumes , cosmetics, and elaborate jewelry were worn by both men and women. In Ancient Persia , clothing was generally unisex , though women wore veils and headscarves. Women in Ancient Greece wore himations ; and in Ancient Rome women wore the palla , a rectangular mantle, and the maphorion.

The typical feminine outfit of aristocratic women of the Renaissance was an undershirt with a gown and a high-waisted overgown, and a plucked forehead and beehive or turban-style hairdo. Body alteration is the deliberate altering of the human body for aesthetic or non-medical purpose. For centuries in Imperial China , smaller feet were considered to be a more aristocratic characteristic in women. The practice of foot binding was intended to enhance this characteristic, though it made walking difficult and painful.

In a few parts of Africa and Asia, neck rings are worn in order to elongate the neck. In these cultures, a long neck characterizes feminine beauty. In China until the twentieth century, tiny, bound feet for women were considered aristocratic and feminine. The Kayan people of Burma Myanmar associate the wearing of neck rings with feminine beauty. What is considered as the ideal feminine is defined by each individual culture based on what that culture considers valuable , and is often the subject of heated debate.

To understand the term "ideal feminine", we need to understand what femininity is. Gender role socialization relies on modeling and reinforcement — girls and women learn and internalize socially expected and acceptable feminine traits and behaviors and are rewarded for gender-appropriate behavior.

The social construct of femininity has adverse effects on women. What is lacking in current research of femininity is "a tool that allows for understanding women's subjective femininity experiences and assessing their relationships to women's psychological health.

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We also know that "feminine norms from the dominant culture are insidiously powerful and pervasive and are likely to influence every woman living in American society [ The ideal feminine has been debated for centuries. Virginia Woolf writes, "Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.

She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily.

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If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it—in short she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others. Above all—I need not say it—she was pure. Her purity was supposed to be her chief beauty--her blushes, her great grace. In those days—the last of Queen Victoria—every house had its Angel. This relates to Simone de Beauvoir 's point that women are the "other. She cannot think of herself without man.

And she is simply what man decrees; thus called 'the sex', by which is meant that [ She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute — she is the Other.

Her coining of the " eternal feminine " solidifies this idea of ideal femininity. She was stating that a woman's femininity determines her worth and that a woman's value is based on the man's default. This "eternal feminine" was constructed because, as she points out, "They are women in virtue of their anatomy and physiology. Throughout history they have always been subordinated to men, and hence their dependency is not the result of a historical event or a social change — it was not something that occurred.

Betty Friedan , who wrote The Feminine Mystique , also weighs in on the subject of the ideal feminine. She notes that, "The feminine mystique permits, even encourages, women to ignore the question of their identity. The mystique says they can answer the question 'Who am I? Mary's mother. Friedan thinks that "the core of the problem for women today is not sexual but a problem of identity — a stunting or evasion of growth that is perpetuated by the feminine mystique. If ideal femininity is a woman who accepts and encourages femininity in all its forms, the opposite of the ideal feminine would be a lesbian.

They may shed the feminine identity in order to build their own identity and fight the "feminine mystique". Monique Wittig writes, "lesbian society destroys the artificial social fact constituting women as a 'natural group. In , Horatio Alger, Jr. In , the Barbie fashion doll was introduced as a feminine ideal of modern aesthetic beauty [68] by Mattel , in the United States. While there are those who hold Barbie to be the feminine ideal, Barbie's anatomical proportions are exaggerated and do not, for example, meet the aesthetic proportions that men in Western cultures find most attractive.

In China , female consumers rejected [76] Barbie's ideal of feminine beauty and its image for women as extraneously sexy. In American film critic Molly Haskell wrote that film not only reflects but reinforces society's accepted gender role definitions, saying "film is a rich field for the mining of female stereotypes If we see stereotypes in film, it's because stereotypes existed in society. In post-match interviews, female tennis players have been found to resist media narratives that either give emphasis to stereotypical notions of gendered identities, such as femininity, or detract from their status as efficient professionals.

Gender stereotypes influence traditional feminine occupations, resulting in microaggression toward women who break traditional gender roles. Occupational roles associated with these stereotypes include: midwife , teacher , accountant , data entry clerk , cashier , salesperson, receptionist , housekeeper , cook , maid , social worker , and nurse. Leadership is associated with masculinity in Western culture and women are perceived less favorably as potential leaders. It has been argued that primary sex characteristics of men and women, such as the ability to bear children, caused a historical sexual division of labor and gender stereotypes evolved culturally to perpetuate this division.

The practice of bearing children tends to interrupt the continuity of employment. According to human capital theory, this retracts from the female investment in higher education and employment training. Richard Anker of the International Labour Office argues human capital theory does not explain the sexual division of labor because many occupations tied to feminine roles, such as administrative assistance, require more knowledge, experience, and continuity of employment than unskilled masculinized occupations, such as truck driving.


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Anker argues the feminization of certain occupations limits employment options for women. Role congruity theory proposes that people tend to view deviations from expected gender roles negatively. It supports the empirical evidence that gender discrimination exists in areas traditionally associated with one gender or the other. It is sometimes used to explain why people have a tendency to evaluate behavior that fulfills the prescriptions of a leader role less favorably when it is enacted by a woman.

Shamanism may have originated as early as the paleolithic period, predating all organized religions. In Hindu traditions, Devi is the female aspect of the divine. Shakti is the divine feminine creative power, the sacred force that moves through the entire universe [] and the agent of change. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, remains impotent and void. As the female manifestation of the supreme lord, she is also called Prakriti , the basic nature of intelligence by which the Universe exists and functions.

In Hinduism , the universal creative force Yoni is feminine , with inspiration being the life force of creation. In Taoism , the concept of yin represents the primary force of the female half of yin and yang. The yin is also present, to a smaller proportion, in the male half. The yin can be characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive.

In Buddhism , women have been recognized and characterized vary in terms of their ability to achieve the truth of the Buddhahood enlightenment based on the Buddhist schools. For example, sutras in Early Buddhism depicted "A woman of a top master of Wisdom" as a woman who achieved enlightenment. But later Hinayana preached such great persons,including the ten great disciples of Buddha, are limited to men, with women as an inferior being, and as the whole, denied the possibility of women's enlightenment in this lifetime i.

Then Mahayara again stated woman's enlightenment as a result of the present time practices. Although the Judeo-Christian God is typically described in masculine terms—such as father, king, warrior—many theologians argue that this is not meant to indicate the gender of God. For example, in the Book of Isaiah , God is compared to a mother comforting her child, while in the Book of Deuteronomy , God is said to have given birth to Israel.

The Book of Genesis describes divine creation of the world out of nothing or ex nihilo. In Wisdom literature and in the wisdom tradition , wisdom is described as feminine. In many books of the Old Testament, including Wisdom and Sirach, wisdom is personified and called "she. In the Jewish Kabbalah , Chokhmah wisdom and intuition is the force in the creative process that God used to create the heavens and the earth. Binah understanding and perception is the great mother, the feminine receiver of energy and giver of form. Binah receives the intuitive insight from Chokhmah and dwells on it in the same way that a mother receives the seed from the father, and keeps it within her until it's time to give birth.

The intuition, once received and contemplated with perception, leads to the Creation of the Universe. Communist revolutionaries initially depicted idealized womanhood as muscular, plainly dressed and strong, [] with good female communists shown as undertaking hard manual labour, using guns, and eschewing self-adornment.

You can stroll the cheerless streets of Peking all day, without seeing a skirt or a sign of lipstick; without thrilling to the faintest breath of perfume; without hearing the click of high heels, or catching the glint of legs sheathed in nylon. Later, the initial state portrayals of idealized femininity as strong and hard-working began to also include more traditional notions such as gentleness, caring and nurturing behaviour, softness, modesty and moral virtue, [] [] : 53 requiring good Communist women to become "superheroes who excelled in all spheres", including working at jobs not traditionally regarded as feminine in nature.

Communist ideology explicitly rejected some aspects of traditional femininity that it viewed as bourgeois and consumerist, such as helplessness, idleness and self-adornment. In Communist countries, some women resented not having access to cosmetics and fashionable clothes. There are no deodorants, perfumes, sometimes even no soap or toothpaste. There is no fine underwear, no pantyhose, no nice lingerie" [] : 31 and "Sometimes I think the real Iron Curtain is made of silky, shiny images of pretty women dressed in wonderful clothes, of pictures from women's magazines The images that cross the borders in magazines, movies or videos are therefore more dangerous than any secret weapon, because they make one desire that 'otherness' badly enough to risk one's life trying to escape.

As Communist countries such as Romania and the Soviet Union began to liberalize, their official media began representing women in more conventionally feminine ways compared with the "rotund farm workers and plain-Jane factory hand" depictions they had previously been publishing. As perfumes, cosmetics, fashionable clothing, and footwear became available to ordinary women in the Soviet Union, East Germany , Poland, Yugoslavia and Hungary , they began to be presented not as bourgeois frivolities but as signs of socialist modernity.

In Western culture , effeminate men are often associated with homosexuality , [] [] although femininity is not necessarily related to a man's sexuality. This assumption limits the way one is allowed to express one's gender and sexuality. Cross-dressing and drag are two public performances of femininity by men that have been popularly known and understood throughout many western cultures. Men who wear clothing associated with femininity are often called cross-dressers.

Many second-wave feminists reject what they regard as constricting standards of female beauty, created for the subordination and objectifying of women and self-perpetuated by reproductive competition and women's own aesthetics. Others, such as lipstick feminists and some other third-wave feminists , argue that feminism shouldn't devalue feminine culture and identity, and that symbols of feminine identity such as make-up, suggestive clothing and having a sexual allure can be valid and empowering personal choices for both sexes.

, Ash, Conflicting Femininities | The Medieval Review

Julia Serano notes that masculine girls and women face much less social disapproval than feminine boys and men, which she attributes to sexism. Serano argues that women wanting to be like men is consistent with the idea that maleness is more valued in contemporary culture than femaleness, whereas men being willing to give up masculinity in favour of femininity directly threatens the notion of male superiority as well as the idea that men and women should be opposites. To support her thesis, Serano cites the far greater public scrutiny and disdain experienced by male-to-female cross-dressers compared with that faced by women who dress in masculine clothes, as well as research showing that parents are likelier to respond negatively to sons who like Barbie dolls and ballet or wear nail polish than they are to daughters exhibiting comparably masculine behaviours.

In her book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity , American transsexual writer and biologist Julia Serano offers a transfeminist critique of femininity, notable especially for its call to empower femininity: [] []. For these reasons, I believe that it is negligent for feminists to only focus on those who are female-bodied, or for transgender activists to only talk about binary gender norms, as no form of gender equity can ever truly be achieved until we first work to empower all forms of femininity.

Serano notes that some behaviors, such as frequent smiling or avoiding eye contact with strangers, are considered feminine because they are practiced disproportionately by women, and likely have resulted from women's attempts to negotiate through a world which is sometimes hostile to them. Serano argues that because contemporary culture is sexist, it assigns negative connotations to, or trivializes, behaviours understood to be feminine such as gossiping, behaving emotionally or decorating. It also recasts and reimagines femininity through a male heterosexual lens, for example interpreting women's empathy and altruism as husband-and-child-focused rather than globally focused, and interpreting women's interest in aesthetics as intended solely to entice or attract men.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 20 September Set of qualities, characteristics or roles associated with girls and women. For other uses, see Feminine disambiguation. Science Technology. Arts Humanities. Popular culture. By country. See also: Sex and psychology and Feminine psychology. See also: List of historical sources for pink and blue as gender signifiers. Main article: Body alteration. Main article: Gender roles. Women's suffrage Muslim countries US.

First Second Third Fourth. Variants general. Variants religious. Lists and categories. Lists Articles Feminists by nationality Literature American feminist literature Feminist comic books. See also: Feminism. Reinventing the sexes: the biomedical construction of femininity and masculinity. Race, gender, and science. Indiana University Press. Retrieved June 3, U of Minnesota Press. Sexual politics: an introduction. Edinburgh University Press. Sociology: A Global Perspective 7th ed.

Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth. Murray Recent Theories of Human Development. Sage Publications.

Gender feminists also consider traditional feminine traits gentleness, modesty, humility, sacrifice, supportiveness, empathy, compassion, tenderness, nurturance, intuitiveness, sensitivity, unselfishness morally superior to the traditional masculine traits of courage, strong will, ambition, independence,assertiveness, initiative, rationality and emotional control. Dordrecht: Springer. Ohio State University Press.

Oxford English Dictionary 3rd ed. Oxford University Press. September Subscription or UK public library membership required. The Second Sex. New York: Knopf.


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