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The World Needs Your Femininity

My icon of femininity

My icon of femininity

Yesterday reader Cody left a comment on a post I wrote about American women losing our sense of femininity. Femininity is not compatible with feminism in many cases, so it had to go – two generations of women now have been raised to avoid “acting like a girl.” Yet it’s essential to relations between the sexes, and men bemoan its disappearance. Cody expresses this better than I can:

 

The feminine is pure life manifested in its immediate form in the right now. That’s the feminine. Embodying your feelings in your body, feeling it to the fullest extent possible, moving as the ocean, powerful as the ocean, life giving and destroying. A feminine woman can take a man out of his head where he all too often resides and place him in the moment with her.

Women fill rooms with their mood, poise, and presence in ways that men do not. An open and loving woman can stop bullets with the sheer beauty of her love. I mean that literally as in break the will of an assassin.

Killing femininity will mean the death of masculinity as well. Just as a man is like a ship in the ocean of his woman’s love, of life itself, so is a woman that life itself — a light of wonder in her mans life. A woman inspires a man to live fully in this life, and to find his direction in it just as a man gives purpose to the ocean.

It’s a beautiful and necessary duality.

To ladies who want to become more feminine, I encourage you. The world needs your feminine gifts. So start getting out of your head and feeling the moment of now!

As you can see, being feminine need not mean being submissive or deferential to a man. It means being nurturing in your relationship so that emotional intimacy can flourish.

20 Years Later, Men and Women Are Still From Different Planets

One of the most troubling effects of applied feminist theology has been the demonization of sex differences. Naturally, this denial of biological reality didn’t make sex differences disappear, it just made them off limits for discussion. That’s ironic, because some of the most pronounced differences between men and women may be seen in the way they engage in discussion. It’s very clear here at HUS that men and women communicate very differently. 

Recently I reread one of my favorite books about cross-sex communication, and despite the fact that it was written in the early 90s, I haven’t found anything that tops it. Even after four years of blogging about dating and relationships, I find John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus enlightening. 

I’m not sure if there ever was a time when the sexes understood one another better, but most of the questions I get from female readers are an attempt to figure out what’s going on in a guy’s mind. 

The best advice about men usually comes from men, but I’m happy to pass it along when it’s really good. John Gray is really good. Some of the insights seem a bit dated for today’s culture – that is, the nature of men and women has not really changed in twenty years, but some of our behaviors have. You may need to adjust here and there, but most of this is gold.

When men feel good about themselves, they are most motivated to please a woman.

The more a man’s life is in order, the more he hungers for a woman to share it with.

When a man does something to make a woman feel special, he becomes more attracted to her.

Men are attracted to women who clearly can be pleased. A man does not want to hear a woman dwell on negative feelings or problems. Women should initially share their most positive, autonomous side.

Not to be needed is a slow death for a man. He needs to feel appreciated, trusted and accepted.

Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed. Given the opportunity to prove his potential, a man expresses his best self. Only when he feels he cannot succeed does he regress back to his old selfish ways.

But: Too much intimacy, too quickly, can cause women to become needy and men to pull away.

When a man is attracted, he gets excited because he anticipates that he can make her happy and that makes him feel really good; it brings the best of him out. The anticipation of more is very important to keep him interested. If he feels completely satisfied, then there is no distance for him to continue traveling to pursue her. Distance not only makes the heart grow fonder but gives the man the opportunity to pursue. Men always need the opportunity for more.

When women “overgive” it compromises their position, and it prevents the excitement of anticipation and romance from building.

While a man tends to question whether he wants to pursue a relationship, the woman tends to question where the relationship is going.

This may make her insecure and she will begin to pursue him. When a man stops pursuing, a woman’s task is to resist the enormous urge to find out what has happened or to do something about it. In this instance, she should stay open to his future advances, but fill her life up with friends.

The male intimacy cycle is like a rubber band. It involves getting close, pulling away, and then getting close again.

A man pulls away to fulfill his need for independence or autonomy. When he has fully separated, suddenly he will feel his need for love and intimacy again. A man automatically alternates between needing intimacy and autonomy.

When a man springs back, he picks up the relationship at whatever degree of intimacy it was when he stretched away. He doesn’t feel any need for a period of getting reacquainted again.

If a man does not have the opportunity to pull away, he never gets a chance to feel his strong desire to be close. If women insist on continuous intimacy then he will almost always be trying to escape and distance himself. He will never get a chance to feel his own passionate longing for love.

When a woman chases a man or punishes him for withdrawing, he feels incapable of fulfilling her and gives up. His fear of her anger or rejection might cause him to give up entirely.

Women need:

  • caring
  • understanding
  • respect
  • devotion
  • validation
  • reassurance

Men need:

  • trust
  • acceptance
  • appreciation
  • admiration
  • approval
  • encouragement

A man’s interest should be active. 

If a man detects that a woman’s mission is to please him, he will also focus on how she can please him. If she wants to pursue him, he will happily sit back and passively receive what she wants to give. This will not make her happy. When he senses that she is unhappy, she becomes less interesting to him and the attraction lessens. A woman who is eager to please a man will find that he is pleased, but not necessarily interested.

Active interest motivates the man to action to achieve a goal, thrives on achievement and comes from a place of desire and confidence.  The more risks he takes, the more invested he becomes.

The way a woman makes him feel good, (and more interested) is by creating opportunities for him to succeed in truly fulfilling her needs. Without her to please, he is a man out of work. He needs a job, needs the opportunity to succeed in a relationship with a woman. This is an enormous boost to his fulfillment in life.

 A female’s interest should be receptive.

Receptive interest is motivated to create opportunities to receive, thrives in response to support, and comes from a place of preference and worthiness. A woman’s receptive interest in a man generates his active interest in her. When she reacts to his advances, he feels more connected to her. Then he is automatically more interested and motivated to get to know her.

A man gets turned on when a woman’s radiance makes him feel more like a man.

 Feminine radiance embodies the three characteristics of femininity:

1. Self-assurance: An air of grace and trust, self-respect. 

2. Receptivity:  The ability to receive what is given and not resent getting less; ability to benefit or find good in every situation.

3. Responsiveness: A man loves a woman with a smile. He loves to feel that he can make a difference, that he can make her happy.

The wisdom of waiting to be sexually intimate is that a man’s desire has a chance to grow into the higher levels of expression. 

His physical desire expands into the emotional desire to please the woman.

Having an exclusive relationship provides the foundation for lasting intimacy. A woman creates intimacy by honestly sharing more of who she is, and a man experiences increased intimacy by successfully supporting and nurturing more of who she is. As she discloses herself more, he can gradually get to know her. If he continues to be supportive as he gets to know her better, then the love he feels in his heart has a chance to grow.

When a woman becomes sexual before she is ready, she has stopped being receptive and becomes accommodating. She compromises her position. When she gives more in the relationship, she begins to expect more from the man, which makes her very unattractive. Female expectations are a turnoff for men.

 

The thing that surprises me most, though it makes a lot of sense, is the value to a man of pursuing and winning a woman. And the value to a woman of giving him the opportunity to do that.

We can either return to a way of relating that respects sex differences, or we can continue to ignore sex roles, asking women to be aggressors and men to be passive recipients.  While I think that it’s important and helpful for women to offer encouragement and show interest to men they find attractive, both sexes will realize the greatest benefit if women do this in response to male initiative.

Women Need Men

Women today don’t understand femininity very well. It’s a dirty secret from the patriarchal past, and it’s been mostly successfully scrubbed from our consciousness by  gender-bending feminists. This loss is mourned by men, who desperately seek feminine women. At the same time, the denial of biological sex differences has affected them as well, as male behavior and nature is routinely shamed in our culture. The end result of this disastrous social experiment is a masculinized female population and a feminized male population. This is not conducive to happy mating.

Recently, reader Sai expressed her bafflement at what femininity is supposed to look like:

When I spent way too long Googling “how do girls act”/”what are girls like” I knew I had a problem.

I don’t want to completely morph into a touchy-feely mother to all living things. I’m honestly still not sure what I’ll gain from this -the visual component is seriously lacking, which is why I saw no point in being that sort of girl -or even where to start. But I am curious, and I often see gals who don’t like how the sexes currently interact being exhorted to act more girly.

Susan Brownmiller, in her 1984 book Femininity, described it as “whimsy, unpredicability, emotional patterns of thinking and behavior, including tearful expressions of sentiment and fear.” She noted that all of these behaviors lie “outside the established route to success.”

Laura Kipnis wrote in Slate that “Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself.”

This is what the French call “la difference.” What’s important to note is that both sexes are happiest when women are feminine and men are masculine. Previously, I’ve attempted to describe femininity in all its aspects, but today I want to focus on just one part of it – perhaps the most important part. It has nothing to do with appearance, tone of voice, or mannerisms. We need to shift our way of thinking to acknowledge sex differences, and how the sexes, though different, can complement one another perfectly when we’re honest about the different wants and needs of men and women. In my opinion, this complementarity is a key part of successful relationships and, ultimately, marriage. 

Principle #1

Women need men, and men need to be needed.

This is heresy to feminists. In that orthodoxy, the most shameful thing a woman can do is need or become dependent on a man. However, in the ancestral period women could not survive without men. Men provided food, shelter and protection, as well as strategic alliances and genes for offspring. Women were attracted to men who could provide these things, and sought qualities in mates that signaled the ability to accumulate resources and the temperament to share them. 

Today, women don’t really need men to provide food and shelter. In large cities, 20-something women make 120% of what their male peers earn. This trend will continue as women represent 60% of college graduates in this country, even though many of those women will not enter high-paying professions. 

We do still need men to protect us, however. Despite an increased number of females in the police force and military, there’s a reason why Navy SEALS are male, why men do most of the heavy lifting and building of construction projects, and why men perform the most dangerous jobs in our economy. 

Taking it to the personal level, what woman does not love being enveloped by strong male arms in a protective embrace? I rely on my husband to be stoic, strong and efficient in all manner of mini domestic crises. When there’s a hurricane coming, a bat in the house, or strange sounds in the night, he embraces the risk. He mans the grill. He is a rock during the emotional upheavals that occur in all families. He provides for our family.

Not surprisingly, when he acts out his male role in this way, I feel attracted to him. I communicate appreciation, my comfort in depending on him, and express physical affection. Both parties are rewarded, both win. That can’t happen if I refuse to need a man, or refuse to accomodate his need to be needed. 

Principle #2

Women want to nurture, and men want to be nurtured.

This too is heresy to feminists, as it supposes that women live to serve men. In fact, women serve male needs for nurturance in the same way that men serve female needs for provisioning. Men and women are happiest when we gladly give and receive what the other has to offer. 

If men evolved to provide shelter and food, then women evolved to make that shelter and food experience as pleasing and comfortable as possible. (If you don’t want to cook for a man, you’re missing a great opportunity to nurture your partner and your relationship.) Of course, there are many other ways to do this as well. Caring about a man’s feelings, demonstrating loyalty, and expressing love and desire are all excellent ways to nurture a man. 

Female nurturance does not preclude male nurturance, nor does needing a man mean he won’t need you back. Just the opposite is true. When we need and nurture our partners, we become stronger, and we invite them to need and nurture us back.

Long live sex differences.

Needing and nurturing, embraced by women, and freely welcomed by men. That’s one thing we can all do right now to improve our dysfunctional SMP.

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Feminism vs. Femininity

What we ought to see in the agonies of puberty is the result of the conditioning that maims the female personality in creating the feminine. 

Germaine Greer


As a result of the feminist revolution, “feminine” becomes an abusive epithet. 

Wyndham Lewis

 

My recent post challenging women to “try on” more femininity this summer elicited a variety of extremely interesting responses from women. I thought I’d highlight some of them, because they demonstrate clearly how women have been conditioned to respond to the word feminine.

“If someone doesn’t already act that way, it’s probably not in their nature.”

“What if I’m not interested in living my life for men, why the fuck should I care about these ‘rules’ for being feminine?”

“When I have a baby I will nurture that baby. A grown ass man can go to his mother for nurturing if that’s what he needs.”

“Feminine tone of voice? What the fuck is that? “Yes I’d love to make you dinner while rubbing your feet after your long day at work. Oh my poor, poor man!” Um…no.”

“I remember when I was much younger, I used to think that it was more important to behave like a tomboy, because it seemed like everybody in the movies/mass media gave attention to those girls. They were the independent, rough-and-tumbleweed sort of girls who men found adorable and, once they received male attention, blossomed into feminine creatures.”

“A few years ago, I worked part-time as staff in my school’s gym, and one of my co-workers remarked that I was probably the most feminine girl out of everyone we worked with. I took it as a semi-insult because in my mind, feminine = weak and flirty-stupid. I thought he wasn’t taking me seriously as a person.”

“Androgyny makes me happy; femininity feels like I’m in drag for my own damn gender…So, no, not all women are “naturally” feminine.”

“Women are different, not all women want to act feminine all the time. What we perceive today as feminine is a social construction from a long time ago, it doesn’t really exist.”

“There is absolutely nothing shameful or demeaning about being feminine. At all. I think for a while now being feminine is being perceived as being weak and inferior. You can be strong yet feminine, and equal at the same time.”

“To be or not to be feminine comes down to a choice women have to make regarding which is more important, to be a “silly woman” or to be taken seriously. The way I was raised, I learned that having a job is more important than having a man, that you can only count on yourself.”

“To me, being feminine is beyond behavior or dress. It’s being more in touch with my own emotions. For a long time I believed that men didn’t like women who cried or got upset. Turns out some emotional vulnerability is not only attractive, but required in a genuine, intimate relationship.”

 

As you can see, there is considerable confusion about the concept of the feminine among contemporary young women, as well as decidedly different political philosophies.

Those who view society through the backdrop of hegemonic masculinity believe that “Femininity is constructed around adaptation to male power. Its central feature is attractiveness to men, which includes physical appearance, ego-massaging, suppression of “power” emotions such as anger, nurturance of children, exclusive heterosexuality, sexual availability without sexual assertiveness, and sociability.”

Laura Kipnis writing in Slate about American women’s obsession with fat, despite feminist efforts to abolish fat shaming:

“Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself. Completely successful femininity can never be entirely attained.

Feminism, on the other hand, is dedicated to abolishing the myth of female inadequacy. It strives to smash beauty norms, it demands female equality in all spheres, it rejects sexual market value as the measure of female worth. Or that was the plan. Yet for all feminism’s social achievements, what it never managed to accomplish was the eradication of the heterosexual beauty culture, meaning the time-consuming and expensive potions and procedures—the pedicures, highlights, wax jobs on sensitive areas, “aesthetic surgery,” and so on. For some reason, the majority of women simply would not give up the pursuit of beautification, even those armed with feminist theory…Will femininity continue to beat down the feminist challenge? It’s been remarkably tenacious to date.”

In other words, femininity cannot be conditioned out of us, because it is part of our nature. Like it or not, women do want to look and act female, we just don’t know how.  One new study shows that perceptions of masculine = tough and feminine = tender are hard-wired in the brain.

“A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds these stereotypes have some real bodily truth for our brains; when people look at a gender-neutral face, they are more likely to judge it as male if they’re touching something hard and as female if they’re touching something soft.”

My generation was actively discouraged from femininity – we were taught that “feminine wiles” were a shameful way of getting what one wanted. When I was about 15, my mother attended an “Assertiveness Training” seminar, quite a popular thing for housewives to do in 1971. After that, scenes like this were commonplace at our house:

Dad: I’m home! What’s for dinner?

Mom: Are you not capable of roasting a chicken? Will you starve if I don’t get every goddamn meal for you?

Dad: (utterly bewildered) I’ve been at the office all day…

Mom: Oh, look at the breadwinner, kids! Here’s the man who has all the fun, all the power in this house!

Dad walks to the dining room and pours himself a martini, no vermouth. Mom runs a hot bath and scrawls “Bastard!” on the mirror with lipstick.

 

Yeah, that was a bad time. I am Sally Draper.

Are you surprised that my generation of women has not even understood whether or how to teach our daughters to enjoy their natural femininity? It has largely vanished from American culture.

Check this email I got from a reader yesterday:

As a 23 year old girl (woman?) I appreciate your blog greatly.  In reflecting on my relations with boys (men?) in my college years, your writing has brought much clarity to my previously-unexamined life.

In particular, I’ve been struggling with embracing femininity.  I was raised as a competitive, proud, tomboy, and while there are plenty of wonderful things I’ve gotten from that (work ethic, team-player, yadda yadda yadda), femininity is not one.  I didn’t know what conditioner was until I got to college, and I didn’t start wearing makeup until I entered the work force a year ago.

Your challenge to be more feminine struck a chord with me, as I’ve been inching that way on my own.  I’ve started dance lessons (and I’m still a horrible follow), and I’m growing out my hair and nails.  That and the cooking.

So I think I’ve got a better grasp on how to look feminine, and maybe of feminine grace, but I am really clueless about how to “talk” like a woman or be subtle, and I’m about as emotionally perceptive as a rock.  I work in the male-dominated field of engineering and the women I work with are, well, practically men.  You wouldn’t believe the way my boss (f) sneers when I wear a (below the knee, gray, pencil) skirt to work!

What I’m getting at is that I don’t really have any feminine role models.  I know that term sounds silly (what am I twelve?) but I was hoping you might have some suggestions: books or movies or places to meet feminine women?

That’s a really good question – my mind immediately flies to Jane Austen – yes, her characters are nearly 200 years old, but they knew how to be female in a way that we do not. I’m not talking about playing the pianoforte or embroidering tapestry – Austen’s heroines conduct themselves with grace and dignity. She also gives us plenty of examples of unfeminine women – Lydia Bennet (silly and graceless), Elizabeth Eliot (selfish and shallow), Augusta Elton (obnoxious and domineering), just to name a few.

I’m hard-pressed to think of an answer for real life. I think we have to find examples wherever we can, and we need to look to women “of a certain age.” Today I was visiting at a local hospital, and while waiting I had an opportunity to observe a large group of women – nurses, physicians, administrators. There was a nurse who looked like a trucker, and spoke like one. There was a woman doc who had the demeanor of someone sniffing something decidedly unpleasant (a real possibility, I admit).

There was one nurse who stood out. She was very feminine. I watched her for a while to determine what set her apart. She wore scrubs, but instead of baggy blue ones, had on slim black pants and a dark green fitted top with snaps. She wore small earrings. She had on no make up, but she looked very clean and fresh. She was smiling, and she interacted with visitors and staff in a cheerful and warm way. There was nothing loud about her, nothing aggressive. She was in her mid-60s, I’d guess. She shone in comparison to all the other women. I hope I can do as well in ten years.

 

Meanwhile, fellow blogger Bbsezmore took up the Summer Femininity Challenge and filed her first and second field reports today! First, she planned an outing with two friends, including lunch and shopping.

“We had a great time at lunch, enjoying the food and each other’s company. Afterward we went next door to a clothing shop and wandered around. It contained three things that caught my eye: Entre Nous (a book about finding your inner French Girl), and two summer dresses that were modern interpretations of mid-century dresses. They were extremely feminine. The black one had a half-petticoat underneath (!) and the plum dress had ruffles.

It occurs to me that a woman could do worse than study French women for lessons in femininity. They make it look effortless – it’s not of course, but that’s the point. They learn the art of femininity from infancy.

I tried both the dresses on, and thought they worked well. Kate approved of the black dress. Farah approved the plum dress. I bought both, along with Entre Nous

Bb has promised future installments in her quest for femininity, and BbMan is looking forward to the experiment. Sounds like things are already heating up at the Bb house. Check out the FR#1 here and FR#2 here. (Tip: in Field Report 2 Bb helpfully summarizes the key points of Entre Nous.)

I’m not qualified to give advice on how to be feminine. I’m guilty of having nurtured the feisty tomboy persona myself. That’s why I’m all ears when men describe what femininity is and why they value it. It’s clear they know it when they see it. In closing, I’ll share with you reader detinennui32’s first of 10 Commandments for Women:

1. Thou shalt cultivate a feminine demeanor and bearing. Thou shalt not try to be, look like, or act like a man. Thou shalt observe and obey this Commandment above all others.

This is the key point, it seems to me. Don’t be anything like a dude. Be the opposite. I really believe it will feel like coming home.

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The Summertime Femininity Challenge

“There is something inherently fascinating about pretty young women leading lives shaped around romance and sexuality instead of power and ambition. A generation is hungry for these stories, which have come to represent—who would have guessed it?—a kind of feminine arcadia.”

Caitlin Flanagan, Stewardesses and Bunnies of Yore, Wall St. Journal

 

Americans are on a nostalgia binge, and they’re particularly fascinated with portrayals of glamorous women – pre-feminism, pre-Friedan gals. It’s not just those of us who came of age in the 60s, either. Mad Men parties have been all the rage on college campuses for the last couple of years, and the Playboy bunny Halloween costume is always a best seller.

This fall, two new nostalgia series will debut on TV, and they too will undoubtedly pull a scrim over the past, romanticizing the 60s in much the same way Mad Men has done. Pan Am centers on the lives of stewardesses during the golden age of jet travel, when people still got very dressed up to fly and expected beautiful, sexy women to serve their coffee. Caitlin Flanagan, writing Stewardesses and Bunnies of Yore in the WSJ:

“We’ve reached a new cultural moment. There is something naughtily alluring now about these young women who don’t need to spend a second fretting over that scourge of the contemporary female: work/life balance.

Like millions of other women of their proximate age and social class in that era, the stewardesses of “Pan Am” move through a series of airtight compartments: the college education, the fun and adventurous career, the betrothal that ends in the transformation to homemaker.

That this sequence is no longer regarded as a bullet train to what Ms. Friedan called “the problem that has no name,” but rather as the substance of dreamy, wish-fulfillment television, tells us just how far behind we’ve left the old battles and barricades. What once looked like oppression now seems heavenly.”

There’s also The Playboy Club, a sleazy show about the same era. Flanagan:

“What both [shows] share is an absence of judgment about jobs that were once at the very center of the feminist critique of women’s roles and prospects.”

If Sex and the City was the realization of feminist goals for female sexuality, then Pan Am and The Playboy Club must be considered a backlash of sorts. My theory is that both sexes are missing the sense of feminine and masculine energies in direct contrast with each other, something that has essentially been bred out of the culture. As Stuart Schneiderman says:

Women are having difficulty finding good men because they themselves are the good men they are looking for.

Is there a way to get femininity back? For women and men to work productively side by side without sublimating their natural differences? If women return to acting feminine, and ultimately being feminine, will men respond positively?

Let’s find out. Six months ago I wrote The Essence of Femininity in an effort to define it. Based largely on feedback from male HUS readers, I published the following 6 key aspects of femininity:

1. Nurturing

Men respond to women who convey warmth and affection. Women have a natural predisposition towards taking care of others – most importantly, family.

Men crave a nurturing and tender touch from women, and women enjoy bestowing it. Several men mentioned looking for clues that a woman will be a good mother. A nurturing personality is the number one cue for that.

2. Playful

Men love to be teased. One requested coyness and another coquettishness, which is defined as “teasing sexual or romantic overtures; flirtation.” Playfulness is one of the things that has been discouraged by feminism, as it was considered a sure-fire way not to be taken seriously. I believe that a sense of playfulness, humor, and good-natured teasing is almost always appropriate, and men value this quality in a woman. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

3. Subtle

Women have been taught that “you get what you ask for,” and “you can do anything you want if you fight for it.” Consequently, we have gotten rather obvious and aggressive in the last couple of generations. This has served us well in some ways, but it doesn’t translate very well to relationships. We have made seduction artless, which is pitiably a lot less fun for everyone. It is impossible to be intriguing when one is obvious. It is impossible to be curious about someone when they are an open book, displaying their wares as if for sale. One man described subtlety as communicating “class and elegance.” Another described the appeal of mystery, advising women “Show, don’t tell.”

4. Emotionally Intelligent

Men perceive that women are good at emotions, that they can be sensitive and tactful. Men crave empathy, understanding and appreciation from women. They need the support of women, and they appreciate good listening skills. They also enjoy a woman’s emotional vulnerability as a proxy for her emotional health and ability to bond. One man said that he wants a woman to have sex like a woman, and that means emotional intimacy. Men will avoid committing to a woman who does not “have eyes only for them.”

5. Taking pride in feminine appearance

Both men and women value good grooming and careful attention to dressing. Men like skirts and dresses more than pants, tailored pants more than sweats. Emphasize what makes you female!

Not surprisingly, men and young women are tuned in to maximizing those features that also serve as cues for fertility: skin, physical health and fitness, and the ever-present preference for long hair. Several guys mentioned loving polished fingers and toes. Modesty was mentioned as having more allure than brash display of physical assets.

6. Displaying female physicality

One reader shared her grandmother’s advice that a woman needs to walk like a woman. This was echoed repeatedly by the males. They notice and appreciate female posture, body language, facial expressions, and eye contact. Men strongly prefer a feminine tone of voice, and love the sound of a woman’s laugh.

 

Summer is a good time to experiment with changing things up a bit. Try to be aware of how you interact with men. Don’t slip into androgyny, even in the workplace. It’s entirely possible to be feminine and professional. My best mentors were all male, and they never would have called me “one of the guys.”

Try adopting more feminine mannerisms, and observe how men respond. Show a bit of vulnerability – you’ll trigger the protective instinct in males, rather than the competitive one.

Americans are in search of the feminine. Give yourself permission to be a woman. You know you want to.