Retrofitting Vintage

Mad Femme Skills: On Empowered Femininity

I took a poll on Facebook last spring about skills that have been traditionally been assigned as “feminine” and found that lots of us, all across the gender spectrum, feel like we missed out on some of them.

Thus, a new series here on Retrofitting Vintage: Femme Skills! A collection of tutorials on various “woman” skills that can be useful for anyone who wants to learn them.

Donna Reed Domestic
Donna Reed has nothing on us.

Gender expression is sensitive territory for a lot of folks, and femininity is a strange space. It is not my intention to be proscriptive, or tell anyone how to express their gender. There are many ways to be a feminine person, and this series just breaks down skills for some of the tasks that are traditionally given to women.

Note: This is not the kind of femininity I’m talking about:


What I’m most interested in is celebrating the feminine. Too often the traits and activities which are most valued and considered the most important and “real” are those that have been ascribed masculine realm. In this great piece on “empowering femininity,” Julia Serano writes:

“Of course the reason why it is particularly easy to ridicule the idea of empowering femininity is because we (all of us, as a society) already harbor dismissive attitudes toward anything considered feminine. And the very point I was trying to make is that we should move beyond this knee-jerk tendency to dismiss and demean feminine gender expression.”

I am much more interested in the how-tos of feminine activity than I am in any “here is how to be a woman” kind of post. Be a person however you want to be, whatever your gender and how you choose to express it. If you’re interested in traditionally feminine activities, this series may be interesting to you.

I’ll be here with some how-tos and zero judgement. Upcoming posts include: How To Wear A Dress, How To Be Welcoming, and How To Talk To A Child.

What kind of feminine skills remain a mystery to you? 

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