Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 646-648


  • Ashlea SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Phoenix College


Effeminate; Effete; Female; Femaleness; Feminine; Fertile; Girlhood; Girly; Maternal; Womanhood; Womanly


To possess a trait or characteristic that has been associated with the totality of being female or womanlike; most often influenced by socio-cultural norms and expectations.


The term femininity encompasses what people perceive as how to look, act, think, and feel to be considered or labeled female. These labels or as some may say constraints dictate how one achieves these feminine ideals set forth by our society, media, culture, and familial factors. Nakash et al. [2] defined femininity as a “concern for others and on connectedness, with attributes such as gentleness, submissiveness, dependency, and emotionality” being the primary focus of those identifying with the female gender (p. 4). The term takes on a more specific meaning then just the physicality of a female body, but defines personality traits and ways of relating to o ...

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