If being a woman came with a manual, we would’ve read it by now.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of generational knowledge and day-to-day advice you can curate into your own library—literally. Books like Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs are just a few of the diverse guidebooks that help female-identifying people move through the world.
And if you need a reminder that “girly” stuff—like feelings, floral patterns, and even vulnerability itself— isn’t just for girls, there’s The Feminine Revolution, co-authored by Amy Stanton and Catherine Connors.
The Feminine Revolution looks at traits traditionally considered feminine (i.e. undesirable by men and women in power) through a critical lens. Why are certain actions or emotions considered shameful? How did this attitude of “girly = bad” develop? Interspersed with personal narratives, quotes by women from across a wide array of industries, and exercises readers can do for themselves, Stanton and Connors created a manual that’s part societal memoir, part self-help book.
Stanton and Connors flip the script on things like being chatty, motherly, or emotional by suggesting that these same traits, when valued and embraced, can be sources of power. The chapters titled “Be Expressive!” and “Cry Openly,” for example, encourage women to do exactly what they’re told not to do. So the next time you use too many exclamation points in your emails or cry in a particularly tumultuous moment, don’t beat yourself up over it—even in the workplace.
What You Need To Know
- Having emotions is a natural and normal thing.
- Emotions shouldn’t be gendered, but they are.
- There are ways you can undo societal pressures to mask your emotions by viewing them as a source of power.
- If you’re short on fellow women coworkers or colleagues who can tell you, “screw your boss, we all cry in meetings sometimes,” then this book can fill that gap while you go find some.
Your femininity probably looks very different from your best friend’s femininity, or your mom’s, or your neighbor’s—and that’s a good thing. Femininity isn’t some predetermined, universal condition; nor is it a set of one-size-fits-all rules about ‘what it means to be a woman.’ Femininity is an experience that flexes and moves and evolves according to the terms of the person who is living and defining it.