Annalinde Nightwind: The New Femininity is the reclaiming of femininityfor women. Feminine, after all, is what we are. It is what makes uswomen rather than men. All sorts of people are crying down femininity for allsorts of reasons: what we are saying is that femininity is not a thing to behalf-ashamed of. It is not second-rate, it is first rate.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: Femininity is not a word that we areencouraged to use these days, is it? A lot of people would argue thatfemininity is the thing that keeps us subservient to men. What would you say tothat?
Annalinde Nightwind: Yes, people do say that; but if you think about it,there is a hidden assumption behind that statement. The assumption is thatmasculinity is superior to femininity; that femininity is not a beautiful andpowerful thing in its own right. You remember the old feminist joke about theman who says to a woman "So you want to be equal to me, do you?"and the woman replies "Actually I was hoping for something a bit betterthan that". We are saying that women are in many respects betterthan men. Women have something men do not have. We have special qualities that belong to us as women, and we do not intend to suppress those special qualitiesin the rat-race for equality with men. We think the world would be a muchpoorer place without femininity, and we are worried that the world is goingthat way.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: Do you mean that women are an endangeredspecies?
Annalinde Nightwind: No, we mean that femininity is an endangeredspecies. As you said, femininity is not a word we are encouraged to use thesedays. Not without a sneer or a snicker, anyway. Women are encouraged to thinkof themselves as "just like men". Sexual equality is interpretedas sexual equivalence. The qualities that differentiate men from women arebelittled and eliminated. But which qualities are under attack? Masculinequalities? Never! Only feminine qualities are being eliminated. Why? Because ina patriarchal society masculine qualities are seen as good, powerful andimportant, while feminine qualities are seen as bad, weak and trivial.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: So what is the result of this?
Annalinde Nightwind: The result is obvious. We are building anexclusively masculine society. More exclusively masculine than the most extremepatriarchal society in history: because even when women were most oppressed,they were still allowed to retain feminine values. There was still a place forfemininity in the world. We are living in a society that is becomingincreasingly unbalanced. Human nature has always been balanced between thepoles of masculinity and femininity; now the modern world is trying toeliminate one of the poles, giving us a wholly masculine world. The masculinespirit is colonising woman herself. It is the ultimate patriarchal conquest.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: But isn't it true that femininityhas been very much the inferior pole?
Annalinde Nightwind: In patriarchal times, yes. There is a great deal ofevidence that in early civilisations--and we do mean civilisations:civilisations with two- and three-storey houses, proper plumbing and a highstandard of life--women and the feminine principle were dominant. May of uschoose to rediscover our femininity within an all-female setting; though itwould not, in theory, be impossible, for those who wished to, to include menwho respect the feminine principle.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: But what exactly is femininity? Is itreally something innate in our nature? Or is it something programmed into us bysociety?
Annalinde Nightwind: This really is the crucial question. The wholepolicy of the modern world is based on the assumption that femininity isunreal. It is an article of faith that men and women are fundamentally the sameand that all differences (except the obvious physical ones) are the result ofconditioning. The entire modern educational system is founded on thisassumption; the policies of Governments are based on it. If it is true, it cando no harm, but if it is false, then we are damaging a whole generation ofwomen and girls by bringing them up in ways that are inappropriate to theirnature and by teaching them to measure themselves by yardsticks that put themat an ineradicable disadvantage.
So what is the truth of the matter? Is femininity real or conditioned? Natureor nurture? Can we ever know the true answer for sure?
Yes we can. An enormous amount of scientific work has been done on thesubject, and any one who is familiar with the findings of science over the lasthalf-century knows the answer to these questions. The truth has not been widelypublicised, because it goes against all the ingrained prejudices of the late20th century, but the facts are there and no one can deny them, only ignorethem. In fact the entire social policy of the Western world in the late 20thcentury as far as it affects girls and women has been based on a systematicignoring of the facts.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: And what are the facts?
Annalinde Nightwind: Well, to begin with, the female brain is physicallydifferent from the male. This is caused not so much by genes as by hormones.The human brain is naturally inclined to be feminine. It is massive doses ofthe male hormone testosterone, both during gestation and at puberty, that makea male brain different from a female brain. If the brain is not bathed intestosterone at critical stages, a genetic male will not develop male mentalcharacteristics. As an adult, even if he is anatomically male, a man may have abrain that remains female. It is also possible for a woman to have a malebrain, but both these occurrences are very rare. In general men have malebrains and women have female ones; and this is why men are masculine ratherthan merely male and women are feminine rather than merely female. It is not amatter of social conditioning. It is a matter of biology. To quote Dr. AnneMoir, who has helped to make a huge compilation of all the scientific researchon this subject: "Men are different from women ...to maintain that theyare the same in aptitude, skill or behaviour is to build a society based on ascientific and biological lie." And from our point of view, it is alsoto rob women of their identity, which is their femininity.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: This is quite fascinating. Can you tell ushow the feminine brain differs from the masculine?
Annalinde Nightwind: Well, to put it simply, in the female brain, somemental functions are distributed around the left and right hemispheres of thebrain, while in the male brain they are more compartmentalised. For example,the parts of a woman's brain which handle speech and emotion are spreadacross both halves whereas in a man they are locked into discrete locations.Moreover, the corpus callosum which connects the left and right brains isthicker and more highly developed in women, so the two halves of our brainscommunicate better.
In practical terms this means that women tend to be more verbally fluent thanmen, and our reason and emotion are more closely allied. Also, since we canbring more diverse parts of the brain to bear on a problem, we are better ablethan men to arrive at apparently non-rational but correct conclusions."Woman's intuition" is based on biology!
Men, on the other hand, are better at mathematics, have better hand-eyecoördination and more easily grasp spatial relations. For everymathematically gifted girl there are 13 mathematically gifted boys, and thebest boys are always better than the best girls. Boys, however, are four timesmore likely to be in remedial reading classes than girls.
These differences are routinely attributed to "socialconditioning", but in fact they manifest from the earliest ages, longbefore social pressures could take effect. One researcher says "After 15years looking for an environmental explanation and getting zero results, I gaveup."
Some purely biological differences have been widely confirmed but are almostunknown outside the laboratory. A woman's senses, for example are moreacute than a man's. She can hear, taste, smell and feel things hecannot, and she has better peripheral vision. In some sensory tests there is nooverlap between the least sensitive woman and the most sensitive man.
A lot of important evidence comes from abnormal conditions. Certainmedications and physiological conditions can produce abnormal flows of femalehormones in a woman's body while she is pregnant. These hamper the flowof testosterone to the brain of a male child, producing effeminate men who maybe (but are not necessarily) homosexual. Such men have brains that operate morelike those of women. They use language better than other men and their mentalfunctions are more distributed around the brain. Their senses are more acutethan those of other men, though not as acute as those of women, but they haveless mechanical ability. Effemin-ate men are less aggressive and lesspower-hungry than other men.
These conditions have been reproduced in laboratory tests. Effeminate malerats are bred without fail by blocking the normal action of testosterone.
Equivalent effects have been found in women. Girls born with a geneticabnormality called Turner's Syndrome do not have ovaries. Since ovariesproduce a small amount of masculinising testosterone, these girls do not haveeven a small check on the natural femininity of the brain. They areexaggeratedly feminine, shy, romantic and sensitive. Their sense of mechanicsand spatial relations is also exaggeratedly female; many have a difficult timeremembering how to get to school.
On the other hand men with an excess of maleness (having an xyy combination ofchromosomes) tend to be pathologically aggressive, are far more likely thanordinary men to become criminals and to be mentally subnormal.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: This makes us sound as if we are all slavesof our hormones, having no will of our own.
Annalinde Nightwind: Oh, not at all. We are talking about extreme cases.Each of us is an individual, of course. But the point is that femininity issomething real. It is not something cooked up by society. It is not a culturalor historical accident. It is part of what we are. It is what makes uswomen rather than men; and if we prefer women to men, it is the thing weprefer.
To sweep femininity under the carpet, to pretend women are just the same asmen--just as likely to be policemen, soldiers, nuclear physicists and so forth,if only society had not warped them --is to do violence to the real nature ofwomen. To pretend that there is something "wrong" as long asfewer girls than boys want to programme computers, and that Something Has To BeDone if fewer than 50% of the country's mathematicians, shippingengineers or paratroopers are women, is to judge women by false standards; toforce round pegs into square holes and to measure women by expectations whichthey will never fulfil and for the most part do not want to fulfil. It is alsobranding womankind as a whole as a perpetual failure--a failure to be men.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: It seems to me that this is a trickysubject. Are you saying women should not have these ambitions?
Annalinde Nightwind: No, we are saying that only a small percentage ofwomen ever will have them. The current claim is that social conditioningforces women to be feminine. What is becoming clearer every day is that for thepast quarter of a century social conditioning has increasingly tried to forcewomen not to be feminine, and it does not work. Women do notbecome the equivalent of men, but in many cases they do becomeconfused, disoriented and neutered by the propaganda aimed at them.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: So you are really saying that women are insome respects inferior to men?
Annalinde Nightwind: Yes. And in other respects men are inferior towomen. This is not a conjecture, it is an established scientific fact. Nowwhich qualities are more important--the masculine qualities or thefeminine qualities? Naturally a male-dominated society says that the masculinequalities are more important. And there has never been a time when it has saidit as forcibly as today. We are told on every side that efficiency is moreimportant than beauty, that size and speed and money are the only things thatmatter. We are told, for the first time in history, that feminine values shouldnot be upheld even by women. And what is the result? An increasinglyviolent, materialistic, greedy and ultimately self-destructive society.
What we are saying is that the feminine qualities are overwhelminglyimportant. That rather than trying to discard them in the name of equality, weshould be reclaiming them, cultivating them and giving them a central place insociety. In fact we are saying that a return to femininity is the only thingthat can save us from a masculine world gone mad.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: So what can we actually do about it?
Annalinde Nightwind: We believe that the answer must begin withourselves. The masculine approach is to start thrashing about trying to changethe world. Femininity begins from within. It is something subtle and intricate.The New Femininity group works at exploring our femininity. Recovering theexciting, delicate sensibility which has been taken from us over the pastquarter-century or so; finding the sources of feminine power and vitality whichlie in every one of us.
We run weekend groups and events in which women come together to enter thefeminine inner world and to discover their femininity. Femininity is reallysomething gloriously exciting. The power and exhilaration of these groups issomething you can't imagine until you experience it. It is more potentthan the strongest drug, yet it is natural and healthy. It is what we haveneeded and been deprived of all these years. That is why it has such awonderful power when we begin to tap into it again.
In some ways the assault on femininity is something we can almost be gratefulfor. Femininity in the '30s or the '50s was in many ways ratherenfeebled. What we are finding is the pure essence of the feminine which hasbeen missing from the world for centuries--well, not missing completely, butonly caught by occasional sidelong glances.
Like many women who are rediscovering femininity, we look back to the'30s or the '50s for models of femininity, but we are in no sensetrying to return to those times. What we are doing is picking up somethingwhich existed then and seeking out its pure, inner, feminine essence. We aredoing something that has really never been done before.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: So when you wear these charming 1930sclothes you are really making a statement.
Annalinde Nightwind: I should say we are doing something rather morethan making a statement. We are working a kind of magic.
Femmeworld Interviewerette:: And you think this kind of magic is notonly exciting for the women who do it but can make the world a better place?
Annalinde Nightwind: Absolutely. The feminine principle is what ismissing from the modern world. It is the missing part--the part that has beendriven out and leaves the world unbalanced. You can't bring it back bypassing laws or writing to the newspapers. You can only bring it back byfinding it and living it. We are pioneering the new feminine sensibility: thething our society needs above all else if it is going to survive.