Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Authenticity of Being a Woman recently opened my blog up to suggestions for topics.  I've spent the first few entries writing what was on my mind; ideas that had been whirling in my head for awhile now.  The running monologue that made its way through my brain reminded me a lot of J.D., the comical character on Scrubs, or the asides Ally McBeal used to have during the run of this hit TV show where she would act only in her head upon events that made her mind rage.  This blog has been an amazing release of ideas and thoughts for me but I welcome the notion of other ideas to help broaden not only my own realm of thinking and writing, but to help me really articulate for others notions that may be in their head, too.

My first suggestion came from a former student.  In a nutshell, it was a request to talk about men vs. women debating the societal expectations of both genders and how the double standards for women's actions still exists even in our very modern times.  I am sad to say, I am not a good woman to expound on this idea.  While I believe in equality of the sexes in the workplace, I also believe that double standards exist for women's behavior outside of the office and I'm o.k. with this.  I will quickly give my thoughts on what I think is questionable behavior for women, however; I would prefer to spend time talking about the behavior of women in a positive way and promoting why these differences are so important; I don't want to be "just like a man".

Double standards in women's roles exists in a few major areas, namely sex and substance use. Women, still, are not permitted to be as promiscuous as men and retain their respect.  But really ladies, is this such a bad thing?  Are we actually saying we want to be so available in today's times with teen pregnancy on the rise and STD's at an all time high?  I do not.  And while some may argue "it's not that I want to be, it's just I want the right to be," I still say no.  My granny used to always ask me why I would want the rights of the worst when I could be the best?  There is value in her sentiment.

Another area women are still viewed unfavorably is substance use; cigarettes and alcohol mostly.  Many of the men I know, including my husband, say smoking is a huge turn-off in women (he was a smoker when we met, double standard at its finest).  The idea of a cigarette hanging on the lips of the woman they want to kiss doesn't paint a picture of intimacy.  I tend to agree.  I used to smoke upon occasion and when I look back at myself during this time period I only see how dirty the habit was, especially on a girl.  A few drinks is not a sin.  Women often gather for cocktails, margaritas, a glass of wine, or even a few beers; I am one of these women.  But, I still believe we should leave the keg stands and shot challenges to the guys.  Mostly on principle of feeling I am better than total loss of control of my body and my mouth, but more so because making fun of them the next day is always so entertaining.

These differences exist to preserve the authenticity of being a woman.   To continue to celebrate us as the fairer sex, not the weaker sex.  To know we can still do things men can not do, specifically, bear children in the way God intended us to (I don't count the man on Oprah. That was MORE than disturbing and I do not believe it to be news worthy).  Women have the ability to exhibit a range of emotion not available to men sometimes and then stew in it for as long as we'd like to.  Proverbs 31: 10-31 develops the many graces of a woman from her character as a wife to her devotion as a homemaker, her generosity as a neighbor and her influence as a teacher, her effectiveness as a mother and as a person.  I, as a woman, appreciate all of these things.  We are complicated and simple, introverted and extroverted, the calm before the storm and a force to be reckoned with. 

Why, oh why, would any woman want to be viewed otherwise?  Feminist that fought for equality are probably rolling over in their graves right now, but I firmly believe that when Lydia Chapin (Taft) cast her vote in Colonial America, she fought for equality in business and politics, not necessarily to cast aside her apron and never clean again.  I don't mean to suggest that women are solely for cooking and cleaning but I was raised in a very traditional family in which my mother did the majority of the cooking and cleaning, as did my grandmother (both sides).  My father did cook, an excellent cook if I do say so myself, but not nearly as often as my mother.  I also cook, probably 95% of the time, in my home and that is completely acceptable to both my husband and me.  I keep my house neat and clean because I believe it is a depiction of who I am.  In Olive Ann Burn's novel Cold Sassy Tree she says, "when a woman gets sick, the house gets sick," and I believe this to be true.  You know the old saying, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

What power we seem to have even without societal balance.  Women take charge in a quiet way and often it takes only a bat of our eyes to steer others into our good graces.  We are master manipulators, and not in a bad way, but often in way that simply helps people, be it our spouse, our friends, and certainly our children, get out of their own way so they can be great.  Women have the uncanny ability to run the show and then gracefully step into the background when the big moment arrives giving the credit to all those she loves.  These continue to be ideas I think are inherent to women, qualities that should be embraced.

On the idea of being lady like, ladies, that is up to us.  I listen constantly to young women complain how boys don't respect them and within the same sentence, they adjust their bra openly twice and then burp and laugh about it.  Really?  And you wonder why he's not racing to open your door?  Why should he?  If you don't embody yourself the pride of femininity, why should he?  My husband opened my doors and picked up the tab while we were dating and continued to do so after we married.  He still opens my door and excuses his language should the occasional cuss word slip out, two qualities I must say I love about him.  And he is not alone. I've met many men that are happy to open my door at school or wait for me to pass through the hallway before they do, and I firmly believe they do this, as does my husband, because I embrace the idea of being a woman.  I am proud to be a woman and I am also proud to let them be men.  If we, as women, don't act like women or require men to act like men, then we are letting ourselves down and more times than not, letting men down, too.  Chivalry is a quality that is still alive and well, but you will get what you give and what you expect (I have every intention of another post discussing why chivalry is NOT dead!).

I do know how to let my hair down and have a good time.  Being lady like is not always being prim and proper. It is completely acceptable to be loud and rowdy, aggressive, ornery, and stubborn - have a blast - but there's a time and place for that behavior and it is not in the local grocery store yelling at the poor cashier because your credit card was declined at checkout.  Use your manners, please.  Manners are an act that spans both genders.  I can be as kind as you please one minute and as venomous as a snake in the next, especially when it comes to my child as women are fierce protectors of their young. The most dangerous place to be is between a mother and her child; another wonderful quality of being a woman.

I am beautiful, not me personally, but as a woman.  I embrace my smile, my curves, my height, my build, even when it doesn't look exactly like I want it to.  I enjoy that when I walk in to a room, my confidence makes heads turns as nothing is more attractive than a self-assured woman.  I dress to impress with an array of options available to me rather than jeans and a T-shirt, men's average uniform of choice. And I know how to dress for my body type.  I know when to be sexy and beautiful and when to cover it up, when to be playful and when to be professional.  Nothing infuriates me more than a woman letting it all hang out, especially when she should not.  Reality must be a part of the equation and we cant' all pull off skinny jeans and low cut blouses.  Be a beautiful woman.

Be a woman with pride.  Spend more time focused on the influence you have as the fairer sex rather than wallow in the inequities of gender bias.  As a woman, you are more resourceful than you know; you will find a way to what you want and what you deserve.

I close today with a funny anecdote entitled The Bridge.  If you've read it before, you enjoy the point it makes about women, if you have not; enjoy.

A man on his Harley was riding along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, God said, 'because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.'

The biker pulled over and said, 'Build a bridge to Hawaii  so I can ride over anytime I want.'

God replied, 'Your request is materialistic; think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking; the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take!  I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things.  Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help man kind.'

The biker thought about it for a long time. Finally, he said, 'God, I wish that I , and all men, could understand women; I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, why she snaps and complains when I try to help, and how I can make a woman truly happy.

God replied: 'You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"


1 comment:

  1. As with many things requiring both humor and intellect, you are spot on. Well said, my friend.