There is this common notion that femininity has to do with women ONLY and masculinity to do with men ONLY. Now, there are both negative and positive traits of both femininity and masculinity. The following table lists those traits.
The above listed traits of masculinity does not exist in men alone. They exist in women too. For example, women can be protective and dominant too. However, they are listed under masculine traits because it is a belief that men predominantly posses such traits. The same happens with feminine traits. While men can also be compassionate and fragile, such traits are believed to be found mostly in women. Therefore, they are listed under traits of femininity.
This definition has always intrigued me. My life at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning gave me clarity in this subject.
My dissertation work that I carried out as a course requirement for M.A. English involved a study of an African-American playwright named Lorraine Hansberry. (I recommend reading Hansberry's plays, especially 'A Raisin in the Sun' to connoisseurs of English literature. Such a powerful writer, though her output was scanty owing to a short lifespan.) While doing an in-depth character study of the characters Hansberry has painted in her plays, I chanced upon a point that Hansberry was a feminist with a difference. While she fought for women's rights, she also brought out the different emotions a man goes through and what makes them hard-hearted towards the women in their lives. She painted pictures of real men who possess certain traits that are "undesirable" in men and appropriate for women, therefore being called feminine traits. She did not stop at that. She transformed these men using women characters who possess traits desirable in a man and therefore called masculine traits. She created masculine women and feminine men, if I may say so. She is studied as a realist writer because she showed the possibility that masculinity and femininity can converge in one person, regardless of gender.
While I was trying to validate this character study, I got reminded of what I once heard my teacher say during my undergrad days. It was a class when one of my classmates who had been missing Bhagawan came up with a question. This question was also inspired by the fact that we had not been to Prasanthi Nilayam for almost a month and a half. She asked the teacher, "Ma'am, why is it that Swami placed us very far away from Him, here at Anantapur and the boys very close to Him, at Prasanthi Nilayam? They get darshan every single day!"
Her innocent question was only about the distance in physical terms. I am sure she was also convinced like many of us that nearness is not always proportional to dearness. However, Prasanthi Nilayam is the Abode of Peace and to live there beside the Love of our life is something anyone would crave for.
Now, all of us, the girl students at Anantapur always had this question in our minds.We had conveniently left considering the Brindavan Campus, (they are physically distant from Bhagawan too) because Swami at least visited Brindavan very frequently. The teacher, who herself was a student of the Anantapur Campus smiled at this question and said, "If I were to give you my reasons I am sure you will never be convinced. So I would like to give you an answer given by Swami Himself." Swami had told them that He kept the boys very close to Him because they by default lacked the ability to express love latent in them and He was teaching them to express this love. However, they possessed abundant strength and could be independent. On the other hand, women who are designed to be mothers have love in-built in them, but could not express and exercise their strength enough. So He kept us far so that we could become strong and independent women. Therefore, by keeping men close to Him and women far from Him (physically), He was making us, His children strong and love-filled. He taught us to be hard and soft at once.
I had never heard such a reason ever before! I was inspired and touched on listening to it.
So here was Bhagawan validating the point that masculinity and femininity can find confluence in an individual. Every student passing out of the portals of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning is a proof of this point. In a world where boys are taught not to cry because they are "boys", the boy-students shed tears of love and pining for their Lord. Girl-students climb over buses to arrange the luggage on the carrier and perform daredevil bike-stunts to make their Lord proud.
Couldn't find a better video to illustrate how Swami makes
men express pure, unsullied love, just like the love He gives!
Bhagawan Baba and Hansberry re-defined femininity and masculinity by over-stretching it to accommodate the forms of femininity and masculinity that can be spotted in reality among men and women but never considered desirable in them.
|Photos Courtesy: Quora and The Prasanthi Reporter|