The Art of Womanliness

The Art of Womanliness

art of womanliness Do you know The Art of Manliness?  It’s a well-read blog dedicated to “reviving the lost art of manliness.”  They draw heavy inspiration from the past as they discuss traditional manhood, hitting topics like manly skills, men from history, and masculine etiquette.

Before you start googling away, I’ll just tell you:  there is no Art of Womanliness.

And I’ve often wondered, why not?

I suspect that the vast network of blogs aimed at women hits many of the same topics that would be covered on a comprehensive “Art of Womanliness” site.  There are numerous blogs devoted to style, food, parenting, etiquette, finances and more that do what they do well.

But I think there may be a more fundamental issue at play.

At the Art of Manliness, they’re looking to the past to resurrect the masculine model of days gone by, examining the lives of men like Teddy Roosevelt, Ben Franklin and Chuck Yeager.  But “reviving the lost art of womanliness” is a tricky endeavor.  There are many positive examples of women in history to encourage, inspire and educate today’s women, but there’s also a whole lot of baggage.  Though examples of strong female models from history exist, there isn’t a feminine model of ages past to resurrect.

Women’s position in society has changed a lot since the days of Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt–a lot more than that of men.  Eleanor Roosevelt recognized this, and wrote, “Women have one advantage over men.  Throughout history they have been forced to make adjustments.”

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote those words looking back from 1960, but they’ve proven to be prophetic.  Women have made a lot of adjustments in the past 50 years. And we’ll keep making them.

Modern Mrs Darcy is exploring what it means to be a woman in today’s world–and an accomplished one, at that.  And I’m very interested in your thoughts on the Art of Womanliness.

Readers, what do you think about the Art of Womanliness? Why is there no Art of Manliness for Women?

Recommended Reading:

The Modern Accomplished Woman…Narrows Her Focus. Research has shown that we get good at the things we practice. So what are you practicing?

Princess or Pioneer Woman: Which One Are You? “Princesses believe that they deserve a better life and expect others to serve them.  Pioneer women expect that any improvement in their lives will come through their own hard work; they are in charge of their own happiness.” So which one are you?

The Magic 5 Hours for a Successful Marriage. Relationship expert John Gottman has discovered what separates happy marriages from unhappy ones–and the difference is only 5 hours a week. Here’s how 5 magic hours can make your marriage succeed.

photo credit: Vintage Girl in the 21st Century

40 comments | Comment


  1. Paige V. says:

    I tried searching for one and all I found is art of femininity which is okay but not what I was looking for.
    I would really love an Art of Womanliness.

    • Missy says:

      Indeed! Proverbs 31 as well as Sarah, Rachel, and many more beautiful (in the physical and spiritual) women throughout the greatest love story of all time.

  2. I agree with Elizabeth!! Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 outline what it is to be a Godly woman. Those women, described by God-inspired writers, are OUR role model for what it is to be a woman.
    A few of the descriptions of “a wife of noble character” in Proverbs 31 include:
    a woman who brings her husband good and honor
    a woman who works to make food and clothing for her family
    a woman who works hard to provide for and serve her family
    a woman who is business-savvy and a partner for her husband in that
    a woman who is strong for her work and not lazy
    a woman who gives to the poor and needy
    a woman who is strong, dignified, wise, teaches, and praised by her husband and children

    I’m reading a book right now called “Feminine Appeal” by Carolyn Mahaney. It’s all about the Titus 2 woman and explains what it means to be a Godly woman, wife and mother. HIGHLY would recommend it!

    • Kris says:

      Okay, but here’s the thing. “The art of womanliness” or whatever goal you are trying to obtain similar to the goal of “The Art of Manliness” has, throughout history, always been defined in relation to a man or a home or a kid. Any endevaours that could be considered personal growth where taken up so that she could better find a husband or make a happier home for her children. Historical guides never give a woman room to do things for herself. It is an issue we still struggle with today, but I am a firm advocate of a woman being a leader, an advocate, and an independent person apart from a man or a child.

  3. Lori says:

    Fascinating Womanhood is a great book that teaches what “femninine” looks like since we have so few role models. She has made me realize how many things I naturally do that are not feminine so now I can work on them. It is my daughter’s favortie book!

  4. Ali says:

    I have a blog which I began in 2008 to start investigating femininity. If you’d like to view it, you can at It is a topic which I think needs to be looked into by all women. Of course, womanliness will differ from lady to lady but so many of us are trying to be androgynous or manly that I think it is a lost art.

  5. Angie says:

    I love your site–it’s my own personal female Art of Manliness, if you get what I mean 🙂

    You mentioned that Art of Manliness was one-stop-shopping, and that that doesn’t exist in the world of women’s blogs. I think it would be great if you added a blogroll with links to really good sites on food, fashion, style, etiquette like you said, so that MMD was more one-stop shopping for me. I think other women would like it too!

    • Anne says:

      Thanks, Angie!

      I’m considering adding a blogroll when I make some changes to the site later this summer. I may have one….maybe. I really appreciate the input.

  6. Sarah says:

    Wow – LOVE the Art of Manliness. And that site was the whole reason I wanted to start an Art of Womanliness blog (and a friend and i started our own version of a blog dedicated to the gifts women have to offer). But to start an Art of Womanliness site is much more difficult due to politics and societal norms. Even just the name, “Art of Womanliness” has a sexual connotation, like the “feminine wiles” or something like that…and I don’t know if you’ve searched the blog world, but the only sites I could find were about finding and seducing a man and the like. It was disheartening…and that is why I was tickled to find Modern Mrs. Darcy. I quite view your site as a feminine version of AofM. Thanks!!

  7. Dianna says:

    I read The Art of Manliness … to support my husband. In today’s society, I don’t feel like men are supported well enough — look at tv and media. Men depicted as beer drinking, burping, leering losers. That’s not the kind of man I married, and I strive to understand him better, as well as learn how to raise my sons into strong men.

    I’m a voracious reader of blogs, and while there is no ‘art of womanliness’, there are a few that I frequent to help me in better knowing how to run a successful home, etc.

    I read here, which is a big help, as well as Women Living Well, The Daily Generous Wife, Simple Organic and a whole host of homeschooling blogs. There’s no one stop shopping, but I’ve created a conglomerate that helps me learn more.

  8. Anna says:

    I found your post so insightful. You make a very good point, Anne. It can even be tricky today, with varying thoughts on the subject. I think you’re doing a wonderful job here, at your site.

  9. Josee says:

    I’ve wondered the same thing and at one point I came across an answer by Kate McKay (one of the authors of the book the AoM). Kate posted “The hard part about a site like the Art of Womanliness compared to AoM is that while it’s easy to reach into the past to find the values and skills a man needs to possess, it’s harder to do for women. It’s harder to separate what was wrong with the past role of women with what needs to be revived. I think to even greater extent then men, women today are really confused about what it means to be a woman. We were raised with this men and women are exactly the same philosophy and that you should want to have it all-home/husband/career/kids, but a lot of women I talk to actually just want to be stay at home moms and they wanted to feel like women, but they feel guilty and torn about this like they’re betraying what their feminist sisters fought for. It’s really confusing for us I have to say.” (

    I think her response reflects your post. There is a lot of confusion out there about womanliness.

    • Claire says:

      This confusion about womanliness is apparent among me and my peers, too. In my opinion, most women (especially those who are working professionals) have lost many of the essential skills which were once exclusively deemed “women’s work.” Take cooking, for instance. Many women I know claim not to have time, but in reality, they simply don’t care to learn, or be bothered to prepare fresh meals every week. Some act as though such tasks are “beneath” them, an idea that likely stemmed from feminism. Yet, these same women would never learn how to change the air filter in their car either, because they still see auto repair work as “masculine,” and it would somehow nullify their femininity to do it.

      Bottom line. These are necessary life skills that everyone should learn. Not male tasks or female tasks. Do you eat? Then learn how to select fresh produce and cook it. Do you drive a car? Then learn how to perform basic maintenance such as air filter replacement and reading the markings on the brake fluid container so you know when you’re running low. Do you wear clothes? Then learn how to sew on buttons and mend tears. Viewing certain life skills along gender lines has resulted in a generation of professional women who can’t do anything for themselves, other than opening their wallets and paying someone else to do it for them. And we ladies are more capable than that 🙂

  10. Heather says:

    I love reading the Art of Manliness! There’s so much about manners, culture, and life that I was never taught as a child, and wish I had been. A one-stop Lady’s version would be lovely, but the author would have to be very careful. For many reasons, it could come off as preachy or backwards.

  11. Barb S. says:

    Food for thought. Good post. Perhaps most men were expected to be “Renaissance Men,” being able to do and know it all, versed in a wide range of skills and subjects. Women…? I don’t know. I’m sure if we examined the lives of some of the men on “Art of Manliness,” they wouldn’t be perfect, having-it-all-figured-out men. Elevating each of these men perhaps creates an image of something they were not. For example, as much as I admire Teddy Roosevelt, I have some questions about his fathering. In my own life, I admire the way the men of the previous generation invested in our church, but I look at many of their children and wonder if they weren’t sacrificed on the altar of service to the church. Proverbs 31 seems, as others have said, a great place to start.

  12. Claire says:

    Although TAoM site is largely steeped in nostalgia, I think its main purpose is not to resurrect the masculine figure of the past, but to instruct and inform. Perhaps my impression was crystalized by the nature of my internet search which led to a link on TAoM; I was searching for a tutorial on tying knots 🙂 That said, I would love to see a companion site for women. However, I think said project should steer clear of any ’50’s housewife, home-ec trappings or nostalgic models of femininity, and focus instead on useful instruction on topics ranging from makeup application and crochet stitches to fixing a leaky faucet.

  13. andrea says:

    i notice most books write about a married woman already, anybody has books on how to be a womanly female friend and then womanly girlfriend, keep your bf and continue keeping him until the dawn of marriage?

  14. Jenny says:

    My brother is a huge fan of The Art of Manliness. He has explained to me many times how that site has helped him find balance and refine his identity as a man in today’s world. I think our generation, men and woman alike, are all a bit lost. Growing up in an age of technology, I think, has a lot to do with the average person losing the knowledge of basic life skills. As someone mentioned earlier we are all becoming accustomed to paying someone else to do things for us. In my opinion this really does lead to a certain loss of connectedness and a bit of an identity crisis. I really enjoy the idea of a movement to reconnect with basic skills involving the gender we identify with and as a young woman I look forward to exploring this site.

  15. Jacinta says:

    “In today’s society, I don’t feel like men are supported well enough — look at tv and media”

    They’re over-supported. Compare it to women and how we’re depicted on TV. There is no support whatsoever (being told ‘you must behave like X or will be ostracised’ is not support). To be a mother or housewife is fine – it’s a personal choice however it is not what makes a woman, a woman. The Art of Manliness applies to both men and women and I am quite gutted that they didn’t call it ‘the art of being an adult’. Men and women are not different (aside from physicality) but we are raised and socialised differently. If men and women are finding it difficult it is because we were probably raised at a time when ‘man’ and ‘woman’ were considered two very different types of people and our culture has developed from that (albeit extremely slowly) due to awareness. Our ‘instinct’ is at odds with this but we consider our instincts to be ‘real’ and not conditioned. Everything is conditioned. In terms of such websites, I can only see a benefit in the gender split when it comes to physical grooming and perhaps a specialised section on pregnancy and the way a father and mother may feel different during that time. Otherwise to split gender like this is very dishonest.

  16. Geordie says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m a fifteen year old male that is a constant reader of AOM. The thing’s that I’ve learned of that site are pretty amazing when you look at the modern boy of today, it’s a worry that from many insights boys of my generation and younger are becoming quite femine and lose all focus onto acting like a guy should, later this morning while I was reading a few articles in AOM I thought to myself wondering if there was a AOW (Art Of Womanliness).
    I thought it would of been a marvellous idea to have one considering the girls/women of today’s society are becoming something less dignified than women should be, I myself believe that women are a higher role than men, and we simply do our best to provide money and support to a family that men grow with a women. In my opinion there should be an AOW because if a guy got curious to how a girl thinks, he might have some idea by looking up an AOW or something that would provide information on how to counter what they believe in, to give guys like myself a chance. All I’m saying is, there should be an AOW any day. I would warmly welcome it, not only because men could address the problems they create by coming to a site that discusses maybe dealing with it, or how to work through it. So as said, please if any brave women could do so, please. Make a website right away!

  17. Melissa says:

    I enjoy reading the art of manliness. I would enjoy having a website for women. Despite the fact that times have changed, I think in some ways learning from and maybe adopting some of the values of the olden days could be of much use. We could learn from the president’s wives (first ladies of America), Elizabeth Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, etc. All woman we could learn from. Yes, if anyone dares, please do make a website.

  18. James says:

    I’ll echo some of the responses here – an Art of Womanliness is a bit of a minefield to contemplate, but there are certainly many positive values, historical figures and stories to learn from for women.

    AoM isn’t just about the big questions of masculinity, it runs a whole gamut of topics, from poetry, to motivationals, fashion and clothing, and practical tips for all manner of things like how to hold a party, build a shoe-shine box, or be Santa, not to mention the occasional tongue-in-cheek poster. It also looks at the flaws of men, holds them up for examination, and talks about how to overcome them.

    It absolutely could not be a unisex site, in spite of what Jacinta may think. What draws men to AoM is that it’s written for and understands men – that’s not something you can just rework to accomodate the other half, sorry ladies. Sure, there’s plenty of ‘how to be a functional human’ advice that’s valuable to anyone, but that’s because manliness is like a Venn diagram. It overlaps with a lot of things, yet has its own distinct flavour. I don’t always agree with everything they publish there, but I’m glad to have such a site on hand to inspire, inform and entertain me.

    In my not very humble opinion, that’s what an Art Of Womanliness would need to succeed. A strong unifying vision, a positive tone (very important, that), and a willingness to amicably disagree.

  19. Anne says:

    James, I pop in at the Art of Manliness occasionally, but I missed that poster! Thanks for the laugh.

    I think your assessment is spot-on: an Art of Womanliness does sound like a bit of a minefield, but I would love to read such a site with a positive tone and a willingness to amicably disagree. Now I’m wondering what on earth the “strong unifying vision” would look like for such a site. Interesting to ponder….

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  20. Deanna says:

    I love The Art of Manliness. You have the Dangerous Books for boys and girls; I think AoM is kind of in the same vein. How to be children, and how to be men. Sure, the role of women is constantly changing, but when you meet a real LADY, you know it. She’s well spoken, well-dressed, groomed, doesn’t wear pearls with jeans (high-maintenance, much?), can carry on an intelligent conversation about world affairs (and these days can probably hold down a conversation about sports without being “one of the boys”), doesn’t eat take out, can throw a dinner party (or any kind of party), and commands your respect as soon as she walks into a room.

    I can see it now: “Real Ladies Don’t Go to the Grocery Store in Track Suits” or “Never Wear Chipped Nail Polish” or “The Art of Dressing for a Date” or “How to Talk About Almost Anything” or “Real Ladies Don’t Gossip” or “How To Exercise Like a Girl”… etc… etc…

    Women are, most importantly, NOT men! I think the feminist movement did itself a disservice by insisting that by being equal to men, women were the same as men, but they are not. Highlight those essential differences, both biological and psychological, and I think you have the basis for an amazing site.

  21. Mya says:

    There are resources women use in the same way men use The art of Manliness. Websites like Polyvore help women find makeup and outfits that look nice together and on her body type. Pinterest has all sorts of DIYs, YouTube gurus teach everything from school and work tips to makeup and how to be charismatic.

    Many women do find historic role models, as well. Yes, many women were repressed historically, but there are some inspiration and lessons learned from them throughout history. Elizabeth Blackwell is a good example and Rosie the riveter are two women that are mentioned a lot in modern day and in Rosie’s case, part of modern pop culture for her achievements.

    So, I would say, women do seek the same tips and guidance — only through more specialized resources rather than a single site like men do with the Art of Manliness.

  22. Emily says:

    I think that the one thing that AoM hits on that all these “women’s” magazines and “women’s” blogs don’t is the importance of character. Does not wearing a track suit to the grocery store make you a woman? Does having perfectly unchipped nail polish make you a woman? Do we respect a woman more as a woman because she’s following all the right tips and wearing all the right styles, because she has the high-powered job? If we do then maybe we are just as shallow as we are led to believe, but I’m going to call bullshit. A woman is a woman because of her strength of character, which is what AoM is hinting at for men as well. These women’s magazines that tell us what to wear and how to “keep” our man with sexual coquetry demean true womanliness. I’ve met truly graceful feminine women in all walks of life, with ripped jeans and dirt under their fingernails. We are desperately in need of a re-definition of womanliness and I think it starts by chucking out the “tips” and “tutorials”.

  23. Lisa says:

    Crazy enough, it was my husband’s obsession with the Art of Manliness that drove me to seek out its counterpart!

    I really like the idea of this site and the in-roads you’ve made so far. For that elusive model though, I would suggest checking out the book “Captivating: Unveiling the Mysteries of a Woman’s Soul.” Despite its religious nature, I think the book brings up very valid points about the historical and beautiful model of womanhood that we women have fought to preserve despite what the world throws at us. And I think this model can be a great guide for moving forward. Some of the main points of the model include:

    1. Women add beauty to the world – and not just in a physical sense. Our compassion, empathy and desire to make the world better adds beauty to the war-torn and power-driven land

    2. Women want to be an equal part in a great adventure – we don’t want to stand by and watch; we want to go out, see and add that beauty in the world. And we want to do it with others

    3. Women are the creators and nurturers of relationships – we teach the world what it means to be loyal, to care, and to find strength in others

    4. Women are the supporters/ saviors of the world – often mis-construed, women in the “support” role are not submissive but adamant. We heal, we sooth, and we protect. Don’t believe in the power of a woman? Just watch what happens when a woman’s best friend is endangered by a creep or her family is threaten. “Hell hath no fury…” you get the idea.

    5. Women want to be desired – whether by man or woman, child or parent, women want to be recognized for their role as the supporter/savior, the adventurer, the relationship-preserver, the beauty (both inside and out). All the magazines scratch at the surface of this desire, but none truly understand it.

    So, pardon that little soap-box moment. I guess what I really want to say is thank you for getting this going, and I can’t wait to read more. Because I truly believe in the idea of the art of woman, and all the good things that come with us learning it. 🙂

    • Thomas D. Roesch says:

      Yes, you are correct. The past is tapped in to on many points. No doubt some men have become girlish. But then many women have become manly. I believe the fear of becoming subservient to the man is why you say, There is no example. Wrong. There are millions of examples but what woman today would like to go back to that? She makes the best apple pie, there isn’t a speck of dust in her home, you could eat off her floors, her children are so well mannered and she keeps them looking so “smart”. The woman of every mans dream. Not to be found anymore. Just some thought to begin the arguing. lol

  24. Eric says:

    I agree. The Art of Manliness is great because it gives advice and encouragement on how to better one’s self physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially, in addition to fun posters and “manly skills” like grooming mustaches and kicking down doors. Men need to learn to grasp that identity and be positive individuals in the world, and so do women. An “Art of Womanliness” site would be great if it did the same for women’s identity. What are skills that young women should learn as they enter into adulthood? What values and points of character should women make it a point to use in everyday life? AoM teaches young men about honor, and, even though they have a different identity, women equally deserve to be encouraged to have honor.

  25. Adam says:

    Random post on this old thread. 🙂

    Great points here about the topic of womanliness. I agree that gender roles have changed quite a bit and one would have to be careful how they presented and approached topics.

    I also agree that the media, and American culture in general, is emasculating men and making it the status quo so that nobody ever feels threatened. That will change eventually as the pendulum swings back towards the middle.

    Anyway, the thing that I wanted to mention here is that, when AoM launched, it had a sister site for women. It was getting much less traffic, if I recall correctly. Not sure what became of it.

  26. Rohvannyn says:

    I’m trying to start a blog like that right now, or at least find one to contribute to. I think there is a place for a blog like that and at least half the AOM articles are actually relevant.

  27. Elif Ozgen says:

    I just saw the Art of Manliness for the first time and when I googled the Art of Womanliness I came to your post, which addresses the very topic on my mind. I just watched the video promoting the Art of Manliness remake of Ben Franklin’s Journal of 13 Virtues. I wanted to buy it! Alas, it was out of print, but also I do not want the Art of Manliness to be spelled out on my journal. (So I am DIY’ing one as inserts to my regular agenda).

    I agree with the points you raised, but before I read them I was thinking that there may not be such a site because “there are the flack mags for women, endless fashion blogs and instagram bloggers.” I still think the existence of fashion magazines as primary reading for women is one of the reasons why such a collective blog or portal does not exist. Women are the audience for couture and ready to wear fashion, accessories, undergarments, dating and sex advice. And the womanhood put forth in magazines like Cosmopolitan is all about looking good, feeling good, being real and confident. (I’m not entirely against these magazines) But there is not discussion of virtues in Cosmo, Vogue, or their male counterparts like GQ and Esquire. So it’s all about consumption…

    So the role proposed for 21st century “accomplished” women is to be fashionable, to look good, to have good skin, to be good in bed, to be sexy, flirty and to have “character” (I think it’s rather elusive for these magazines, I’ll come back to this below). Ever since early globalisation in the sixteenth century, fashion has always been important for international trade for men and everyday life for women.

    The other reason a topic such as “The Art of Womanliness” doesn’t work for a blog similar to the Art of Manliness is that the art of Womanliness also imply the art of seduction. Men want us to seduce them, but the moment we seduce them, they loose respect. I think men want to continue seducing women. Being a woman is very difficult because, while you should drive the male attention to yourself (and not sit there like a stick) and flirt once the attention comes your way, you shouldn’t let him think it2s easy to seduce you or even worse, that you’re trying to seduce him. So we need writing on the Difficult Art and Science of Being a Women, because just the “Art” won’t cut it for us…

    My issue with the womanhood in fashion magazines is it just sees women as consumers, and not as productive professional beings (even if they are productive, professional (career women). The same thing is fuelled to us through instagram. I truly believe people who produce are happy whereas people who consume are unhappy. I also think that character doesn’t come from being fashionable or hanging out with the cool gang but it is pretty much about how we act in the face of trying situations and whether we can muster courage and hope like the heroines of the novels we so much love. So I’d be happy to read and to contribute to a blog that talks about 21st century women in terms of these idea(l)s. Because, more than ever, there’s a great need for a blog that takes into account virtues, how to become a better version of yourself, how to date a la Jane Austen, how to be kinder and more generous (without being taken advantage of).

  28. nimsy says:

    I literally typed in the “Art of Womanliness” because I was on “The Art of Manliness” and trying to understand when goal setting and taking control of your life became gendered, and codified as male. Glad to see you improving the amount of resources available to women trying to navigate who they are in the modern world!

  29. Collette says:

    I actually found this as I was searching on the topic. The art of manliness is a great site, and I really wish there was something similar for women. As a woman who has a hell of a time being ladylike, I think a resource would be a fun learning experience. Although it’d be sure to ruffle some feathers.

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