Proving how tough I was seemed to be a theme of my early teens in to my mid twenties. In PE class I would try to run the fastest (for a girl) and be the best at all of the sports. At that time I associated appearing physically strong with inner strength, and strength is often associated with masculinity. Too further solidify my strong exterior I joined a women’s rugby team when I was twenty and played as a second rower, then a winger for five years. For some women, sports, competition and physical strength are not about ways to substitute for lack of inner strength, for them it is just a part of who they are. For me, I discovered, it isn’t.
After 5 battered and bruised years of rugby I was forced to quit after one too many injuries. A year later, when I was 26, I turned to my roommate and said, “I don’t own one pink item”. That year I decided (or my subconscious decided) that it was time to begin to embrace my feminine side. I used to look at the color pink as girly, princess-y, weak, high maintenance-y, and so on. You get the picture. So, that year I bought a couple of items of clothing and some bed sheets in pink and dammit it, it felt great!
A few years after I began embracing the “pink”, I started to notice issues in my dating (or lack there of) life. I noticed that there seemed to be some sort of general confusion in the city around how men and women were meant to relate, in the context of dating. Men weren’t approaching me, I wasn’t approaching men. We all seemed tentative. As if due to how equal we were, we didn’t know who was supposed to ask who (among other obvious fears around approaching the opposite sex).
I then remembered my mom telling me about dating in her teens; she said, “Back in my day, it was simple. Girls had girl friends, boys had boy friends. If a boy wanted to date you, he would have to ask you out, you would then consult your day timer and pretend you were busy and a popular, then tell him when you were available” It was a game, a simple game. There was clarity in who played what role.
Since the feminism movement there have been some very important and amazing changes in women’s role in society. I agree that before then, some of the attitudes and beliefs according to our current standards are absurd and unreasonable. But there might be something to be said about the clearly defined roles that still existed as early as one generation ago.
I think that being born in a generation where our mothers may have fought for gender equality, a result has been that some of their daughters may feel the same sense of pride. We want to honor and continue the legacy of our mothers’ hard work, but have we taken gender equality a bit to far?
I was recently introduced to an incredible movie called “What about me”. Among all of the beautiful people, images and music in the movie there was a section dedicated to world-view opinions about women. I was struck by one of the comments made by a woman who articulated better than I could what I have noticed:
“The archetype of the man basically being in charge of the material realm and the women being more in charge of the emotional psychological and spiritual realm, actually works quite beautifully. We made a mistake, we thought that liberation meant that we were liberated to go out and be like men and we sacrificed some very feminine aspects of ourselves in the name of feminism. We came up with a generation of hard women and soft men and it didn’t work for anybody”
I think that there has to be a balance somewhere in all of this. If we begin to consider this perspective, maybe we can find that balance.
During the period where I was struggling with relationships, I began thinking more about my femininity and continued to read self help books. I began to realize that what had gotten lost for me was fully embracing my femininity. I started viewing it as extremely powerful instead of weak. I learned to look at the “girly” side of myself as an amazing, built in, inner strength that was already there. I had, until that moment, failed to acknowledge it.
In the past few years I have discovered just how girly I am! It shocks me a bit to think back to my rugby playing days, how did I ever think that was a good idea for such a sensitive soul as myself? Ah well, I am sure I was acting out someone’s aggression…. Maybe even my own 😉
Ps – In regards to dating in Vancouver, I met my husband speed dating. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.