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Date of Award
Restricted Thesis: Campus only access
Bachelor of Arts
Rhetoric & Comm Studies
What is a female? Who and what is feminine? Although the terms 'female' and 'feminine' may at first glance seem interchangeable, their actual definitions are at distinct variance with their cultural constructions and social implications. 'Female' is a sex distinction, a term used to describe the member of a species that has two X chromosomes and produces ova (Ayers, 1986). 'Female' does not change over time; it has a static definition. 'Feminine' is a gender distinction, a term used to describe the socially constructed view of what is acceptable behavior or attributes to be ascribed to a 'woman' or 'girl' of the society (Ayers, 1986). 'Feminine' is a dynamic and ever-changing concept, with an amendable definition. In the current construction of the term, there is an inherent passivity which equates to an ability to be controlled. It is this passive feminine that is separate from the female; it has nothing to do with her essence, and as such should not be used to define, label, and limit her. This is not to say that the feminine never applies to the female, just that the terms are independent of one another and need not be joined for either to exist. Throughout the course of this essay, the terms 'woman' and 'girl' will be avoided save for within direct citations, with the terms 'female' and 'feminine' being used to avoid any confusion as to whether it is a sex or a gender issue being discussed. When terms such as 'female,' 'feminine,' 'woman,' 'male,' 'masculine,' and 'man' appear within direct citations, brackets such as [female], [feminine], [male], and [masculine] will be included following such appearances to avoid confusion while preserving the original text. Readers are asked not to interpret those instances as strict.
Henry, Lauren M., "She what?! : the legitimacy of the female in the public sphere" (2007). Honors Theses. 1024.