Monday, November 13, 2006

masculine/feminine

I took a doctoral level graduate class in relationship development and mate selection. I was the only girl in the class and one day that became glaringly apparent. As you know I don't shy away from sharing my opinions and engaging in academic debate. The topic of debate with my male classmates was about our cultural labelling of all personality traits as masculine and feminine. I attempted to say we create stereotypes that can be very negative/rigid when we do this. (i.e. men are supposed to be tough, not cry, fight, etc) Every attribute/personality characteristic is on a persecute with extreme opposites at both ends, but most people are in the middle. Labeling each end as masculine and feminine implies that it is the ideal for men or women. I do believe men and women have inherent differences but I don't think that justifies this division/labelling. This whole system of labeling is erroneous as there is as much variation in a given characteristic amongst men (some men are gentle/mellow while others are very aggressive/rough) as there is between a given man and a woman (aggressive woman and aggressive man). I asked them if I am aggressive/assertive does that make me less of a woman? the answer "No, it just means you are comfortable with your masculine side". Masculine side? You think that is a joking answer but it wasn't. I am a girl 100% and proud of it. I held my own that day but they still didn't get it.

I am a rough and tumble girl- just as much as i am a girly girl . I like to to get glammed up, and throw parties, I wear lipstick and dress in pink but, in 7th grade I was also the only girl who chose to play basketball with the boys while all the other girls stood around giggling and occasionally hitting a volleyball. My dad had to break it to me in 5th grade that no matter what i did I would never be a center in the NFL (I do hike a mean football) and my only outside chance at any football would be as a kicker. In college, Shelah and I spent some evenings playing rugby with the guys in the neighboring apartments and we were known for our true tenaciousness on the field. Boys do not intimidate me and I relate as well to men as I do to women. At church functions, I am always happier moving furniture instead of doing dishes. I wrestle and race my kids as much as any dad. As much as I love lounging at a nice hotel, I am one brave traveller who has slept, eaten and spent my days in some very hard, dirty places. But all of these things make me a great woman not a woman comfortable with her "masculine side".

just some thoughts today on how silly our culture is sometimes.

6 comments:

Code Yellow Mom said...

ABsolutely true! Good for you, holding your own!

On a slight tangent, I also think it's interesting that while gender definitely prescribes different roles and might even dictate inherited qualities, men and women alike should be building their lives and relationships on principles like faith, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, and hard work. Those principles are definitely not divided into a "man's job"/ "woman's job" sort of spectrum - but they are often thought of as primarily masculine or feminine characteristics. How great if society could get over that way of categorizing, and everyone just work toward being the best PERSON they can, instead of trying to get in touch with their "sides."

Gabriela said...

I think it's so interesting how early these divisions/labeling starts; from the colors we put our babies in to the toys that are purchased for them. It starts early.

Goslyn said...

The labeling is so very pervasive, and I agree, not always helpful. I married a very gentle, mellow man, and in a pre-marital counseling session, the pastor actually told me that I was filling the "masculine" roles of the family. If you buy into the sterotypes, he was right, but still.

Great post.

smartmama said...

amen CYM- the ideals and greatest human qualities are neither masculine or feminine

gabs- it is in so much of what we do

goslyn- your pastor would have fit right in in my class (laughing too because one of the text books in that class was premarital and remarital counseling-maybe he read it)-

Lei said...

So, so true! And empowering! i am grateful that i live in an environment where i am who i am, not a "female". love my dh. :)

chellie said...

I think a nice mixture is great, as stated in your second paragragh. I too appreciate a pedicure, bath stuff and girly girl stuff, but I'm not afraid to play football, get dirty and move furniture.
Consider us.. Jack-of-all-trades...