I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE
I love being a girl.
I can feel what you're feeling
as you're feeling it inside
I am an emotional creature.
Things do not come to me
as intellectual theories or hard-shaped ideas.
They pulse through my organs and legs
and burn up my ears ...
I know when a storm is coming.
I can feel the invisible stirrings in the air.
I can tell you he won't call back.
It's a vibe I share.
This doesn't sound like the orthodox feminist position. Usually feminists push an "anti-essentialist" line. This means that they reject the idea that men and women have distinct masculine and feminine natures.
There are a couple of reasons for feminists to be anti-essentialist. First, feminists usually accept the liberal idea that autonomy is what matters. This means that feminists are committed to rejecting whatever is predetermined in favour of what is self-determined. Our sex is predetermined, so it can't be accepted as something that naturally forms a part of a person's identity. At best, it can be something that an individual chooses to "perform" as a kind of subversive act.
Second, feminists have looked on the traditional feminine role within the home and judged it to be less autonomous, and therefore inferior, to the male career role. This then leads feminists to reject the idea that the traditionally feminine role is natural, which then leads to the idea that "the patriarchy" created sex roles as a social construct in order for men to benefit from women's oppression.
So the feminist emphasis is usually on the idea that masculinity and femininity are limitations or restrictions imprisoning the individual, and/or that femininity is an oppressive social construct foisted upon women by the patriarchy which should be abolished forthwith.
Some feminists have even gone beyond this by denying that humans can be divided into two sexes, male and female. The most influential is Anne Fausto-Sterling, the academic referred to by Leonard Sax in the following quote:
A tenured professor at Brown University recently published a book in which she claims that the division of the human race into two sexes, female and male, is an artificial invention of our culture. "Nature really offers us more than two sexes," she claims, adding, "Our current notions of masculinity and femininity are cultural conceits." The decision to "label" a child as a girl or a boy is "a social decision," according to this expert. We should not label any child as being either a girl or a boy, this professor proclaimed. "There is no either/or. Rather, there are shades of difference."
According to Anne Fausto-Sterling it is a "cultural conceit" to believe that humans are born either male or female. Eve Ensler, on the other hand, not only believes that a feminine nature does exist, she appears to consider it a positive aspect of a woman's life.
The two positions seem poles apart. Unfortunately, they are closer than you might think.
It turns out that Eve Ensler has the following argument. In every one of us, male and female, there is a grouping of cells, the "girl cells". These are central to human evolution and the future of the human race. But the patriarchy has decided to oppress and kill off the girl cells, thereby threatening the continuation of life. The girl cells are responsible for empathy, openness, vulnerability, intuition and relationships. Vulnerability is our greatest strength and girl cell emotions have inherent logic which leads to radical and saving action. It is the patriarchy which has brought up people not to be girls.
It is the suppression of girl cells by the patriarchy which has led us to the complete destruction of the earth and to mass rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Boys have been treated harshly by the patriarchy because their girl cells have been suppressed. If men cried like girls and could enjoy their girl self there wouldn't be violence, as bullets are hardened tears. Men just pretend to know things and they hide that they are in a mess.
Girls are oppressed everywhere by the patriarchy. They're silenced, sold, killed, enslaved, raped, and robbed of being the subjects of their lives. But girls are the key to the future of the whole of humanity. Girls will determine whether the species survives.
It's wrong for girls to be feminine and to want to please. This has been forced on them. They should be re-educated to want to confront, deny and agitate. This is "engaging your girl". We should admire girls who demand to have their faces covered in tattoos, or who sail solo around the world, or who live by themselves in the wild, or who stand in front of tanks, or who violently defend themselves.
Can you see the problem here? Eve Ensler does not accept masculinity and femininity as they really exist. Masculinity she rejects as something hurtful and hateful which threatens existence. She wants men to live instead by their girl selves.
And although she says some nice things about "girl cells" and talks positively about empathy and intuition, she doesn't really like feminine women. She doesn't like it when girls aim to please and she is uninterested in women as wives or mothers. The qualities she actually admires in girls don't sound very girlish at all. Furthermore, she thinks that girls can be socially reconstructed to be the way she wants them to be.
There's a gnostic undertone to her argument. She portrays the world as a false one which has inverted reality. We can undergo a transformative, redemptive experience, conquer evil and save the world from destruction by understanding the "girl cells" key to knowledge.
It has an air of unreality to it. She is in campaigning mode and masculinity and femininity are treated in terms of her campaign and not on their own terms.
She is not in a serious and consistent way a gender essentialist, even if she does offer a variation on the usual feminist arguments.