Flowers and Masculinity: Gender in Gardening
February 11, 2011
Allan in Gardening, Musing on Other Subjects, Musings on Gardening, flowers, gender, masculinity, sexuality

Where did it come from, the assignment of gender to behavior? How did it happen that the expression of most emotions were once considered feminine and very few masculine? Didn’t the feminist movement put an end to this arbitrary classification, years ago? Well, if it did, why is it still awkward for some male gardeners to wear their heart on their sleeves, to admit how much they are moved by a flower’s beauty and fragrance? Why, in some circles, is it not wise for a heterosexual male to declare his passion for flowers for fear that he might be misjudged to be effeminate? A straight man’s sexual orientation is not in danger if he stops to admire the roses. Its aroma is an aphrodisiac. Just observe how some men react when they get a whiff of ladies floral-based perfume. Their eyes widen as all of their senses are aroused. There is nothing effeminate about that.

The social revolution created by the feminist movement resulted in mothers raising boys to do chores that, historically, were considered feminine. My two sons in law, all of my nephews, and I can cook gourmet meals, iron clothes, clean house, and get the tangles out of little girls’ hair. We also know to hug our kids in public. None of us feel that our masculinity is threatened by engaging in these actions. On the contrary, our wives or girlfriends appreciate us more because we share all domestic chores. In some instances, it even enhances our emotional and physical relationship with them.

However, the one act that still requires gender neutralizing is a man’s passionate, public declaration of his love for flowers. In some circles, it is still inappropriate for real men to do so. The women’s liberationists, through the mothers that they influenced, changed traditional societal values about straight men getting in touch with their feelings and the expression of those sentiments in public. Did they forget to include flower gardening?

For another treatment of this subject, please read a blog titled Why Can’t a Dude Like Flowers, posted by my colleague John Markowsi at An Obsessive ´╗┐Neurotic Gardener.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (
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