Great women? Heaven. I know many, I’m getting to know more, and I love having women in my life – as friends, as confidantes, as supporters, as community.
I also love men – in relationships and as friends. I appreciate our differing perspectives, that our strengths and weaknesses are complimentary, that our physiques and physical capacities are as well.
We’re gloriously different.
It makes the world so much richer.
And more challenging.
As a woman, I know I’m different from a man. I like it.
As a woman, I’ve yet to figure out the inner workings of a man; I doubt I ever will.
As a woman, I fight stereotypes; I’m certain men do as well.
Women, Appearance, Self-Esteem
Some of my challenges have been eased by physical attributes. Some have been worsened.
Eased? I was pretty enough, not beautiful, somewhat on the nerdy side. I could “brighten” and use my looks when I needed to, or disappear into a crowd just as readily. Frankly, I find that versatility helpful.
For parts of my life I was overweight enough to render me invisible, to lose confidence, to feel undeserving. I got over it. I also got in better shape.
For another thing, I’m small. Early in my corporate career, my stature was problematic. I had no “presence” – critical if you’re to exert a leadership role, to negotiate, or to persuade. I quickly learned to overcome my size when I began public speaking. I learned to project – loud and clear – to very large audiences. I opened my mouth and let smarts, voice, and words achieve my intentions.
Girly Girls, Manly Men
Other ways in which I’m not who (or what) I appear to be?
First may I say it annoys me that we use the expression “girly girl” while we don’t have “womanly woman” in common usage? Manly man? Nothing diminishing in that phrase, is there. Ah, language and its subtle messages, for better or worse.
Back on point – I’m not a girly girl by any stretch, yet I love being a woman.
I love the way my body language alters when a gentleman arouses my interest. I adore my flirty lingerie and my sexy shoes, and the trappings of dressing like a feminine woman. I’m delighted when engaged in the playful banter that is part of the courtship dance. And I love that I feel with a woman’s heart and a woman’s introspection.
In other areas, I’ve been told that I skew male – funny, since I gravitate toward a more “manly man” who may in turn skew female in a handful of areas.
My masculine attributes?
My determination is often (wrongly) associated with men; my tastes in fashion and style tend toward clean lines and sleek surfaces (deemed “masculine”); my approach to language – when it suits me – is direct, and occasionally directive.
That we label these preferences male or female amuses me. I consider them personal, not a matter of gender.
Language is power; We all need our power
Yes, there’s nature and nurture, but in that nurturing (and all the cultural influences that surround us), we’re socialized to speak as men and women, and persistent issues of (diluting) language concern me.
Weak language undermines the message we deliver. And women are socialized to couch opinions in careful or questioning modifiers. Women qualify; men make their points.
Is this always the case? Of course not. And I’m thrilled that I can communicate with the delicacy required in tricky (emotional) situations, as well as more directly – erasing those competence and confidence-reducing terms like “a little” or “just” or even “in my opinion” – unless the softening of my stance serves my purpose.
The bottom line is my commitment to picking and choosing what suits me as an individual – habits, attributes, language – regardless of whether it is thought of as manly or womanly, none of which diminishes my pleasure in being a woman.
I like my sex – and interacting with both men and women.
I like men – the way their perspectives and approach challenge me to question my own – at times to revise, and at others, to hold firm.
I like that many men I have known appreciate a woman’s perspective; their eyes are opened, their take on issues modified, in light of what women more naturally bring to the table.
I like that men and women communicate differently; I believe we can learn from each other, and appropriate techniques from the opposite sex to better meet our objectives.
We certainly do if we’re talking about peaceful coexistence in marriage, as well as divorce. We certainly do if we’re talking about employment opportunities, family-friendly employment structures, pay parity, and persistent cultural misconceptions on both sides of the divide. Expectations of men and women – sexually and on the home front in particular – remain a tangle of contradiction and condescension, on the part of both sexes.
Does that mean everything must be a fight? That we can’t hang on to a sense of humor? That we can’t speak out for equity and options – respectfully?
It’s a tough road, yes.
There’s no single right answer, no.
But I’ll choose to respect and love individuals – enjoying my appreciation of the opposite sex. Liking men, and happily saying as much. What about you?
- Do you like your husband or wife, your boyfriend or girlfriend?
- Do you like the men you meet online or the women you chat with at the local coffee shop?