Women can wear a mask of femininity. In Womanliness as a Masquerade Joan Riviere makes the argument that woman either dumb themselves down or make conscience choices to exert femininity. This theory is the reverse of men over exerting their masculinity.
Through the example of a housewife presented by Riviere we see a woman concisely dumbs herself down when talking to workingmen to “avert…retribution”. When talking to worker such as builders, butcher and baker “she has a compulsion to hide all her technical knowledge” and acting a part “she puts on a semblance of a rather uneducated woman” hiding her competence, culture and opinions.
Through a lecturer we se a woman putting of the mask literally by wearing clothes that are more feminine which in turn make her peers react to her word jokingly. To protect her ego she has learned “to treat the situation[s]… as a game [or]…a joke” when having to display more masculine characteristics.
Riviere also presents a powerful businesswoman who after gaining success in her work would but on the mask of feminine woman and look for “unmistakable father-figures” to get reassurance and the fulfillment in the act of being a woman, while not giving any importance to the man. She used her interactions with men as “device[s] for avoiding anxiety [rather] than as a primary mode of sexual enjoyment”.
This reading was eye opening to think that “womanliness may be assumed as a mask” as Riviere puts it. I have heard of women acting dumb for the egos of a lover or to gain material possession but not as a way of protecting their own egos.