Friday, November 05, 2004

Thoughts inspired by Maggie's blog

Today my sister wrote on her blog about being girly.

I thought it was an interesting topic, so I'm going to expound.

I don't know what it has been about my upbringing/personality that has made me think that I can't be girly, but I feel a little embarrassed about it sometimes.

When I tell people that I love to go shopping and that a cute pair of shoes can thrill my heart I feel like people automatically categorize me as an airhead who has no concern for real issues. I feel like all my effort to be a serious contributor to society is devalued and relegated to froofyland where everything is pink and sparkly.

The interesting thing is that this doesn't seem to happen for men. Well, not that any men really get weak in the knees over the new pair of white Ugg boots at Nordstroms, but they have their weaknesses too.

For instance, that guy in my office whose life revolves around sports is not considered a meat head who only thinks about which defensive lineman broke the line and pummled the crap out of his rival team's QB this weekend. He is considered a mans man, strong, confident, in control. The fact of the matter is that he still thinks about and gets excited over something wholly out of his realm of reality or influence.

Like me and those freakin white Ugg boots.

On a related note, this shame of being girly stretches into my relationships. When the ear doctor says something really nice to me, I get all excited about it, and sometimes I get a little embarrassed by my own reaction. For some reason I feel like I'm not entitled to my own true and honest feelings because they are dorky and ultra-feminine.

I know I should work on this and just be proud to feel how I feel and be who I am, but you try spending all day surrounded by insensitive 50 year old men who expect me to not take offense from personally derogatory statements. Then come talk to me about staying vulnerable and true to my inner girly side.

I wonder if this is the way most women feel in the workplace. Is there a widespread feeling that women need to be like men and eliminate all characteristics which are inherently feminine? I've often heard that what makes a great collaborative environment is a lot of people coming together from all different backgrounds and vantages. In fact, at work here we are required to have cross-disciplinary reviews of every design with the understanding that looking at a similar problem from different perspectives will generate a better solution. Doesn't it make sense that eliminating a female perspective in the work place could be detrimental to the development of a company? And why is a dominant male looked at as a good leader, while a dominant female is considered bitchy?


fMhLisa said...

You've hit the nail on the head sister. We do not value women in our culture. Sports are not more important than shoes. Phhleeease . . .

But we are told that female things are silly and male things are important from the very earliest stages. Don't buy into it.

I truly think we have an obligation as girly girls to fight these underlying assumptions tooth and nail. For the sake of my daughters, I watch chick flicks with pride, I will not be ashamed of Fabio on my book covers, and I refuse to think that emotions are inferior to blowing-stuff-up. I refuse to be embarrassed by my girly glory.

Despite every assumption we have to the contrary, being man-like is not the best way to be, not in business, not in school, not ever.

the narrator said...

i get excited when i realize i'll be able to get at least 5 hours of sleep in a night.

what does that make me?

Mike said...

Spot on.
I think many of these criticisms are even more true within the hard sciences and enginering

what I don't understand is- why doesn't everybody like shoes?

JL said...

You need to put the ringsurf code on your blog for the singles blogward. We should be able to surf from one member's blog to the other, without the code we can't and it kind of messes up the whole blogring thing.

I can email it to you again if you want. If you don't know how to do it just email me and I can tell you. Thanks!

goofy328 said...

It's a question of balance. Women who aren't gurly in any remote sense of the word are a bit odd. Not that they can't be attractive and intelligent or anything, but it's easy to stereotype them as anti-social, misanthropic even, particularly when you talk to them and you can see that for yourself.

Eventually, enevitably, you want someone that isn't afraid of their femininity. Of course there are plenty of guys who can appreciate it, and I used to be one of them, but over time I can't imagine not having that there to differentiate us. You do want something from someone that is different from how you act and think yourself.

As far as the office place, I wouldn't know, but I would imagine that the scales are still tipped against women, even in 2004. That much said, a woman can and should be able to assert herself and get her point across without men calling her out of her name and devaluing her authortarianism. I've been in a number of different situations where women were authority figures, women pastors, bosses, women that simply knew more than I did even though technically they were my equal. If you're smart, it is a great opportunity to learn something new from someone and get a different perspective on life. If you're ignorant, you're intimated and emasculated. And that more or less encapsulates what that argument is about.

Mike said...

When it comes to gender expectations and feeling confined by them, most people are really their own worst enemy. It's the self-perceived expectation that leads us to question whether we are acting appropriately or not.

The male approach vs the female approach to life, business, love, shoes, sports, you name the catergory, the difference is clear. We have different ways of dealing with things.

Why are men considered leaders when they act like men and women (acting like men) considered bitches? Perhaps the underlying perception stems from peoples assumption that women should be nurturing and therefore, if she is acting like a male, we assume it must be because she has a chip on her shoulder and has no nurturing side (and becomes a bitch in our collective perceptions).

I agree with your point on seeing things from many points of view (as they are all valid as long as they are constructive).

As for being surrounded by insensative 50 year old men and their insensative remarks, try seeing things from their point of view. To them, their remarks may be normal, expected, part of their everyday existence (you might say male culture, as it were). If you see it this way, their form of expression may be to them not a sign of insensitivity, but expressing they are comfortable enough around you to include you as one of them, part of the group to share in the collective culture.

I don't agree with being treated badly in the workplace, but I'm sure a man working amongst many 50 year old women would be just as uncomfortable about what is said about him around the office as you are with 50 year old men.

It's essentially a clash of differences, the classic male-female conundrum. Both grow up differently and have different expectations as they grow up, which are culturally ingrained from birth onwards.

To be honest, I don't think the female perspective is eliminated in the work place (just check your sexual harassment laws and whom they originally were created to protect). There's been a lot of upheaval about working out middle ground so that men and women can work in the same environment so no perspective rules outright.

Regardless of law however, feminity is by far the most championed of all traits historically, infact the majority of female traits are associated with good things and I'm fairly sure regardless of whatever these 50 year old men say you should feel you have every right to being girly.

Be as you are. Feminine, unfeminine, girly, masculine, bitchy, whatever description suits you at the time you are feeling it.