The Evolution of Femininity: From Medieval Times to Modern Day

As a gender studies expert, I have dedicated years to studying the history of femininity. It is a complex and ever-changing concept that has been influenced by various social, cultural, and political factors throughout the centuries. In this article, I will explore the origins of femininity and how it has evolved over time. Contrary to popular belief, femininity is a relatively modern construct. According to English teacher Tara Williams, modern ideas of femininity in English-speaking societies emerged during the medieval period, specifically during the time of the bubonic plague in the 13th century. In the early Middle Ages, women were primarily defined by their traditional roles as maids, wives, or widows.

They were expected to be submissive, obedient, and focused on domestic duties. However, the bubonic plague brought about significant changes in society. With a large portion of the male population succumbing to the disease, women were forced to take on new roles and responsibilities. This led to a shift in how women were perceived and valued in society. The first wave of feminism emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, during a time of urban industrialism and liberal and socialist politics.

The main goal of this movement was to create opportunities for women and fight for their rights. One of the key focuses was on suffrage – the right to vote. The wave officially began at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, where three hundred men and women gathered to advocate for equality for women. It was here that Elizabeth Cady Stanton (b., 190) drafted the Seneca Falls Declaration, which outlined the ideology and political strategies of the new movement.