the feminine mystique
The tea was served by a young woman with an innocent and natural (not forced) smile. Her honest eyes gave witness to a simple joy.
As I sipped the hot jasmine tea, and gazed out the window of the tea shop, my mind went into a meandering reverie of all the women I had encountered over the years in so many situations. . . . . a rose worn in jet black hair will catch any man’s eye . . . .
Let’s explore this a little, okay?
European painters in the late 1800s were fascinated with the feminine mystique, especially in young women. The simplicity, the in the now, earthy, down to earth, carefree nature of young women made a significant impression on many of these painters (Renoir, Monet, etc.) Young women were the subject of many of their paintings (in both urban and rural settings).
As well, many authors and poets have been enchanted by women throughout the centuries. Consider Robert W. Chambers (American, 1865 – 1933). Chambers appears to have been an incurable romantic as many writers of fiction seem to be. And, reading his short stories, one gets the impression this was independent of attempts to boost his sales.
(It is interesting that many of Chambers’ stories were written in the first person. All 3 of the following examples were written in the first person. Two of the stories were set in France. Chambers had lived and studied in France when a young man.)
Chambers’ relevant short stories that give examples of the feminine mystique include:
The Yellow Sign – with the character, Tessie, the painter’s model possessing youthful vivacity, and feminine charm and beauty.
The Demoiselle d’Ys – with Jeanne, the French maiden and young Countess, in A.D. 1573 rural France. A cultured woman trained in falconry, with a pure and loving heart.
The Mask – set in Paris, with the 18-year-old beauty, Genevieve.
We quote from The Mask:
“Genevieve was lovely. . . . . . But I was always glad when she changed that mood for what we called her “April Manoeuvres”. She was often as variable as an April day. In the morning grave, dignified and sweet, at noon laughing, capricious, at evening whatever one least expected. I preferred her so rather than in that Madonna-like tranquility which stirred the depths of my heart.”
All three of these stories appeared in Chambers’ The King in Yellow in 1895.
Men’s interest and attraction to this feminine mystique may have to do with how the male brain is wired, and is not just visual in nature. A woman’s voice can have a definite and profound effect on a man. Consider how popular female vocalists are. Some of the biggest selling songs are sung by women. Who (in the Western world) has not heard at least some of the songs by Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Williams, (the late) Karen Carpenter, (the late) Donna Summer, etc.?
On a personal note, way back in the summer of 1978 during college days, a co-worker had a police scanner in his car hooked into the radio. We would at times listen to what came over the scanner. There was a woman dispatcher in one of the police stations we were picking up. She had a very – what are the right words to use? – soft, silky, sultry voice. Her voice was the most enticing (seductive?) I have ever heard, and hence I can still remember it 35 summers later. We wondered what she must look like. The male brain seems to almost automatically infer that such a sweet female voice would belong to a stunningly attractive woman. But, this is not necessarily so. (And, dear readers, let us be clear, the real value in a person, woman or man, is in the kind of person they are, not in their looks.)
When I say to the young women who ring up the groceries, “the future belongs to young women”, they often smile.
Much is made these days about the differences between men and women.
The paradox is that even in the very center of the one, the other is present. This is visually indicated by the yin and yang symbol from Taoism. (The yin is the feminine and is indicated by the dark area. The yang is the masculine and is indicated by the light colored area.)
In certain writings on psychology, one finds mention of a feminine component of a man’s psyche, and a masculine component of a woman’s psyche. I seem to recall the terms used in reference to these are “anima” and “animus”.
The complementarity of opposites. Men need the strengths of women, and women need the strengths of men. (Thus, the sexes ought not be at war with each other.) As lone individuals, we are not complete. And, we share the “X” chromosome. Men are not the result of two “Y” chromosomes. All of us, at the earliest stages of development in the womb are female. (This was discussed in the book, Brain Sex. The baby boy’s male hormones have to struggle to overcome his mother’s female hormones that are circulating within his blood stream during the pregnancy.) We will address this universal “femaleness” briefly in an upcoming essay from the spiritual perspective.
June is femininity appreciation month. If enough people agree, we can make it so.
Is femininity valued very highly these days in these United States? Have we redefined what it means to be feminine?
This photo captures something of the feminine mystique. Note the model’s eyes. The black and white image is likely more alluring than a color image might be. More than good looks are conveyed. The subject’s eyes show a strength and an affirmation.
The allure and mystery that women hold for men is more than just mere physical attraction or “sex appeal”, and it goes much deeper into a man’s psyche than many realize.
Here are a couple of good songs by Ray Obiedo you might be interested in listening to.
This next song has a beautiful video accompaniment. “lemanja”
Thanks for reading.