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Amira00

What is masculinity and femininity?

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Salam,

In this day and age, gender has become very malleable. Characteristics traditionally associated with men are now also associated with women and vice versa. In my opinion, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it blurs the hard lines between the two genders. 

For example, men were traditionally the breadwinners of the family- we know that women can also be breadwinners of a family and that independence is celebrated. Men were traditionally thought of as very strong - women can also train physically to achieve the same physique. Women were traditionally the more emotional sex - we now know that its even harmful for men to suppress their emotions and we're seeing the idea of male vulnerablity being embraced and not just buried away. 

So, what exactly differentiates a man from a woman other than his sex? Note, I am talking about masculinity and femininity here (gender) I already know about the physical differences between the two sexes. 

In Islam, what is the definition of masculinity and femininity if even within the boundaries of Islam these ideas are being tested? 

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20 minutes ago, MuslimahAK said:

I wonder if much leeway is given for culture?

In my country, its not considered masculine for a woman to ask a worker for help. But my husband told me that in Morocco that it is extremely unfeminine to ask someone for directions, or anything of the sort. 

Sure. Cultural distinctions do exist and do, to a great extent, contribute towards defining the attributes as well as codes for societal conduct for each gender- for instance in Iran, Afghanistan, the Indo-Pak subcontinent and some other parts of the Eastern Islamic world, the term 'dear/beloved' (Farsi/Dari/Pashto/Urdu: "jaan") is customarily used alongside women's names to address them ("XYZ jaan", as readers of Khaled Hosseini's and Mohsin Hamid's books would know), whereas in the Arab world (correct me if I am wrong), such references would possibly be construed as flirtation, and totally unbecoming of well-bred young men. At times, these cultural norms are mixed with what Islam prescribes as the appropriate behavior for each gender, and assume an 'Islamic' gloss (notice how in some parts of the Muslim world girls aren't allowed to attend school, and are even shot when they dare to do so,whereas Islam has nothing against, and even encourages, female education). However, these cultural practices and mores should have no bearing upon what the Shariah prescribes; this is not say that these are all anti-Islamic, but they are not all Islamic either.

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16 minutes ago, IbnSina said:

Here is the short and correct answer:

Ali and Fatima.

Thanks. It is simple and guiding to explore, investigate the behavior(attitude, talk and action) of them so that human can use them as example (uswatun hasanah).

We will know what should a man supposed to do from Ali a.s. dan what should a woman supposed to do from Fatima a.s.

Edited by myouvial

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15 hours ago, Amira00 said:

For example, men were traditionally the breadwinners of the family- we know that women can also be breadwinners of a family and that independence is celebrated. Men were traditionally thought of as very strong - women can also train physically to achieve the same physique. Women were traditionally the more emotional sex - we now know that its even harmful for men to suppress their emotions and we're seeing the idea of male vulnerablity being embraced and not just buried away. 

On average men are stronger than women because of testosterone, men had outlets in the past to engage with emotions greater circle of friends etc, emotionalizing men will only make them feel they are weak and have not accomplished anything. Also there are differences between men and women in Conscientious, Disagreeableness, and assertiveness which lead to higher salaries.

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Earning money from work is not a characteristic.  It's a task.  To classify it as masculine or feminine is too broad.  A man earning money from sewing in the 1800s might have been considered to be doing feminine work, and a woman working in a factory might have been considered to be doing masculine work, but work itself is done out of necessity, not as an innate characteristic.  

Masculine: facial hair, broad, angular body shape, greater physical strength, greater focus on single tasks, more innately competitive.

Feminine: smooth and rounded body shape, greater physical endurance, greater ability to multitask, more innately collaborative.

Within each gender, there is a range of all these characteristics.  These are generalizations. Without variability, humanity would be really boring.

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1 hour ago, notme said:

Earning money from work is not a characteristic.  It's a task.

Not true, but generally we men tend to be more stronger and that is why our duty is to provide food to our kids and wives.  Secondly women tend to be good at certain things, and likewise for men. Men have their strong suit, so does the female, the task may not have a character but we make it have one, which ends up with a character. Like we call clocks for a female, ''She is 11 pm.'' Got me? But people refuse to admit that there is a difference between a female and a male. I mean Imam Ali (as) used to help Fatima Zahra (as) in the household, but he did not do everything. That duty belonged to her, which we can read and see how they lived, may Allah bless them both.

Only Allah has no gender, yet He says that ''He is the most merciful.'' With other words, he is claiming indirectly that men tend to be the protector and provider. In fact women are much more attractive when they are weak, but not too weak to the point of depression. Weakness in them shows how strong we are, we tend to like to have control, (Maybe it is only my belief, who knows?) and we will be grateful that Allah created us men strong.

Edited by Hamodiii

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5 hours ago, Hamodiii said:

. Like we call clocks for a female, ''She is 11 pm.'' Got me? But people refuse to admit that there is a difference between a female and a male

In what country is that? Sweden? I never heard of that, here the clock is an  "it". E.g. "It is 11 p.m." 

5 hours ago, Hamodiii said:

Not true, but generally we men tend to be more stronger and that is why our duty is to provide food to our kids and wives.

It may be true from the those raised from Iraqi  cultural norms and indeed it is a natural law for humans that men are stronger than women; It is not true that providing  food  is a gender-specific role.  

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10 minutes ago, Gaius I. Caesar said:

In what country is that? Sweden? I never heard of that, here the clock is an  "it". E.g. "It is 11 p.m." 

No, It is in arabic as well. Generally in fact.

 

10 minutes ago, Gaius I. Caesar said:

It is not true that providing  food  is a gender-specific role.  

Well, I never it had a gender, but generally the woman's job is to be a housewife, and the men provide, which gives the task a gender?

And if she does not want to be one, then I don't mind. She is free to do whatever as long it is not out of Islam.

Edited by Hamodiii

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5 hours ago, Hamodiii said:

Not true, but generally we men tend to be more stronger and that is why our duty is to provide food to our kids and wives.  Secondly women tend to be good at certain things, and likewise for men. Men have their strong suit, so does the female, the task may not have a character but we make it have one, which ends up with a character. Like we call clocks for a female, ''She is 11 pm.'' Got me? But people refuse to admit that there is a difference between a female and a male. I mean Imam Ali (as) used to help Fatima Zahra (as) in the household, but he did not do everything. That duty belonged to her, which we can read and see how they lived, may Allah bless them both.

Only Allah has no gender, yet He says that ''He is the most merciful.'' With other words, he is claiming indirectly that men tend to be the protector and provider. In fact women are much more attractive when they are weak, but not too weak to the point of depression. Weakness in them shows how strong we are, we tend to like to have control, (Maybe it is only my belief, who knows?) and we will be grateful that Allah created us men strong.

Ummm "women are more attractive when they are weak"??? I mean, I get where you're coming from, it feeds the male ego when a woman is vulnerable. I get how it makes a man feel strong when he needs to take care of and restore the strength of a wilted flower of a girl etc... But i think it is damaging for men to just always treat women as if theyre half broken and incomplete without their man to protect them. Firstly, men too are vulnerable and this suggests that men don't need nurturing and emotional support. This also suggests to women that they must always rely on their father, brothers, uncles, then husbands and sons. It's like were always being passed around from the possession of different men in our lives. 

Edited by Amira00

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5 minutes ago, Amira00 said:

Ummm "women are more attractive when they are weak"??? I mean, I get where you're coming from, it feeds the male ego when a woman is vulnerable. I get how it makes a man feel strong when he needs to take care of and restore the strength of a wilted flower of a girl etc... But i think it is damaging for men to just always treat women as if theyre half broken and incomplete without their man to protect them. Firstly, men too are vulnerable and this suggests that men don't need nurturing and emotional support. This also suggests to women that they must always rely on their father, brothers, uncles, then husbands and sons. It's like were always being passed around from the possession of different men in our lives. 

You complete your religion through marriage, why? It is cause you find your second half, meaning that men can be weak and feel strong with her, and she can feel safe despise her problems. If she really is independent then why does every woman who is over 30 depressed? :/ ''Men don't want us.'' I wonder why? That is quite ironic.

Note that even men need emotional support, but some don't want to admit it, makes them look weak, but surely here I am telling the truth. Men are weaker than females, but society does not let them talk, that is why they keep silent, but despise this I hear ungrateful females complain. Which is absurd.

Edited by Hamodiii

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31 minutes ago, Hamodiii said:

You complete your religion through marriage, why? It is cause you find your second half, meaning that men can be weak and feel strong with her, and she can feel safe despise her problems. If she really is independent then why does every woman who is over 30 depressed? :/ ''Men don't want us.'' I wonder why? That is quite ironic.

Note that even men need emotional support, but some don't want to admit it, makes them look weak, but surely here I am telling the truth. Men are weaker than females, but society does not let them talk, that is why they keep silent, but despise this I hear ungrateful females complain. Which is absurd.

Depression has nothing to do with independence. Well, for some people, lack of independance may cause depression because you feel trapped and used etc. But, alot of women are in fact independent but still depressed. The causes of depression are many, but the symptoms are often very similar. I dont get how its ironic though, do you mind explaining what you mean by that?

I agree that society is hypocritical, men do suffer alot emotionally and in silence. But that also should not belittle female suffering, and all the inequality and sexism that takes place even in western countries. Both men and women suffer and both men and women are suffering because of the ignorance and hypocricy of the opposing gender. We should all support each other and accept we all fight our own battles, although some may be forced and pressured into suffering silently.

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Society determines rigid masculine and feminine ideals. To an extent, certain traits are part of biology, but masculinity and femininity is a social construct, therefore, that is why people have been trying to deconstruct the notions for at least 40-50 years now. 

If gender and its associated traits weren’t also part of a social construct, there would have never been any attempts to deconstruct the ideals in the first place. 

Edited by Islandsandmirrors

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I agree 100%. But then that supports the whole gender neutrality / non-binary debate. Since there are no boundaries between being "masculine" and "feminine", and a man can in fact have traditionally "feminine" characteristics and vice versa, where does it come to an end? So, is gender in fact not binary? I find the whole idea of suddenly waking up one morning and "feeling" like a different gender doesn't make sense. But so far, we've come to an understanding that men and women share both masculine and femine traits. So...gender isn't a binary idea?  

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8 minutes ago, Amira00 said:

Since there are no boundaries between being "masculine" and "feminine", and a man can in fact have traditionally "feminine" characteristics and vice versa, where does it come to an end?

It ends with three boundaries : Biology, physiology and genetics. You cannot change that.  For example: You have may  have masculine traits, but biologically and genetically, you will always be female.

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19 hours ago, Qa'im said:

4. As Muslims, we should probably ignore most of the debates on "gender".

If we want to say that differences in sex are significant enough to determine differences in social roles, then this means that gender roles are (at least partly) grounded in nature, and not completely socially constructed.  This is a good reason to pay attention to the current debates on gender.  Many people seem to take it for granted that gender roles are completely socially constructed.  They think that the traditional idea that gender roles are innate is outdated, wrong, and even oppressive.  Obviously this isnt the Islamic position, and its not what the evidence suggests.  

Edited by .InshAllah.

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9 hours ago, Amira00 said:

I agree that society is hypocritical, men do suffer alot emotionally and in silence. But that also should not belittle female suffering, and all the inequality and sexism that takes place even in western countries. Both men and women suffer and both men and women are suffering because of the ignorance and hypocricy of the opposing gender. We should all support each other and accept we all fight our own battles, although some may be forced and pressured into suffering silently.

Well said, but I wonder if people are down to do that.

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