Saturday, 2 February 2013

Masculine vs. Feminine Qualities: Which are Better?

My answer? Too much of either and you're out of whack!

I've lived in 2 places here that have been either hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine.  Both workplaces were chaos, for different reasons: one sought to dominate me into submission (as if!) and the other offered conflicting messages, lack of communication, and no incentive to learn new things and make more money(How is this masculine or feminine? I'd call it a genderless cluster****). Neither is going to apply to my future life since I will be moving on from this soon.  I also learned what it was like to have car mechanics try to bully me into getting work done that I didn't need,  who tried to overcharge me for work I needed, and on the other hand I've had to deal with incompetent people working on my car.

It occurred to me that the place I work now, with mostly women in charge, has a lot of issues. Everyone wants their stars to shine, at the expense of everyone else's, which is typically a masculine trait, but at the same time, they on some level believe in the spirit of cooperation- and cooperate in making chaos for support staff to constantly live with and try to unravel. It is exhausting. I miss the organization and structure I knew when I worked for a male-dominated industry, but I sure as heck don't miss the sexist attitudes and belittlement from those men.

So what is my point? Nothing's ever perfect! But I did come to a better understanding when I applied this to masculine and feminine traits.

Here is a list from a college Sociology text by Pearson Education, Inc. that includes my comments in special text:

(You will notice that more feminine traits have a negative connotation (and it was probably written by a man). This is a thing about our language that's evolving AND reflective of where we've been- and possibly things will change, and perhaps not. There's no telling.)

Feminine Traits:
Submissive (This has a bad meaning usually but I can see how it can help in social and work situations. Sometimes you don't need to fight over everything. I prefer this strategy: "OK, person I disagree with. Have it your way, and blame yourself when it doesn't work because I tried to warn you!")
Dependent (This is insulting to a modern woman, for whom dependence isn't usually even an option, but it also reflects other things: income that comes from government payments, pensions, family members, or any situation in which something or someone takes care of you or perhaps wields some sort of power over you.)
Unintelligent and Incapable (I've seen both sexes use this trick.  It's the "I'm so stupid and helpless that I need someone to take care of me," act.  I saw it in my last boyfriend. Do you know I am a selfish a-hole for not bankrolling a good lifestyle for him while he was a professional student (who often bombed finals) and went from entry-level job to similar job because he found work to be so dissatisfying? Whatever, dude. I also saw it in a former co-worker of mine, a woman. And I think it's funny for me to say that I'd rather see these qualities in a man than in a woman, but it's true. Women today have opportunities like never before. Playing the stupid and helpless card generally means that I'll want to kick you with my boots on if you keep it up!) Are you kidding me? Did the book actually list unintelligent and incapable as a feminine trait? Tell them to go have a baby, raise it and run a home in the meantime, which is traditionally what women have done, and then go tell me women are incapable?
Emotional (And you can't tell me that both sexes aren't emotional.  My boyfriends have been is more emotional than I am, probably because I have my guard up so much- see Masculine Traits below for additional information! But seriously, we are all emotional creatures. How much of the emotion we allow to be seen/heard/shared is our choice.) I think the difference is that men tend to compartmentalize in, "OK, I'm at work now," and they shut the door on that aspect and concentrate on work, while women tend to be more holistic, realizing that it all goes together. Too much of either isn't good.
Receptive (I find this to be ironic in a way, because women tend to give, give, give. Especially mothers. But the receptivity to our emotions, signals that light our paths, signs, the moods of people around us, the perception of danger, any type of "receiving," whether it be help, money, information, support. The way women are socialized makes us more apt to be receptive, and perceptive, in a lot of cases.)
Intuitive (Pretty much, what I just wrote. People with this trait are gifted in ways that apply directly to making one's way in the world.)
Weak (Now that word just pisses me off- see Masculine Traits below. You want to call me weak? OK, well, I don't have upper-body strength if that's how you measure my abilities. I wasn't built for that. However, if you mean weakness of character, that is a personal trait, not a gender-based trait.)
Timid (The first time I saw footage of the traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, I thought, Whoa. Those people are nuts.  Well, "those people" are generally men.  And they are doing what they've been socialized to do: compete, shout, bargain, look for a deal.  It's not right and it's not wrong. It's just rather unappealing to some types, including myself.)
Content (Now this cracks me up. Who is ever truly content? Why would contentedness be gender-specific? That's just crazy talk. Is this the opposite of achievement-oriented? Because if so, it definitely doesn't have a gender associated with it.)
Passive (Anyone who has a mother knows that this isn't really a female trait!) However, more women than men I know are passive-aggressive because again, traditionally, a woman was not allowed to be overtly aggressive. So, because she didn't come out guns blazing like a man, men thought of women as passive...
Cooperative (Now, this one I like. Politicians seem to channel these traits related to "doing it their way" and if you get a room full of those fools, nothing productive ever gets done; it's just posturing and fighting and all the stuff we generally see. BS, I say.  Learn to cooperate, and you can do great things.)
Sensitive (See Emotional.)
Sex object (Traditionally, yes. Women typically wield some power because of their appearance in some situations at least.  There's really no denying it. But in this equal-opportunity age of living in a youth and hotness-obsessed culture, men are not exempt from this. Do you think Ryan Reynolds gets acting jobs based on his talent alone? I don't think so. I've dreamed about him shirtless and I bet I'm not the only one :) Amen to that sister!
Attractive because of physical appearance (This is something I came across in trying to date for the last 5 years or so. Youth and attractiveness are currency in the dating world. No, I don't like it, but not liking it doesn't mean it isn't so. Old men really came after me in the online world. Old men! Yuck! But they wanted me to appreciate their masculine qualities (see below) and overlook the fact that I'd miss out on sharing my life with someone my age, with a similar past, musical and TV interests, general life experiences, etc. So that is some of the game, but like they say, don't hate the players, hate the game.) More on the players, below:

Masculine Traits
Dominant (Yeah, I'm just going to hit you over the head if you won't let me do things my way.  What can I say? Sometimes this works, and sometimes, it drives people away from you quickly.)
Independent (OK, so given world history I'll allow this to be considered a masculine trait, although it usually applies to most people who have their $hit together. My fictional idol Scarlett O'Hara put this spirit into practice when she said she wanted to have so much money and resources that she could tell anyone at all who said things against her to go to hell. I feel the same way. Independence isn't just financial, but being able to make your own decisions is such a good feeling to own.)
Intelligent and competent (Right, one might say, I've got this.)
Rational (If you follow politics at all, it's the ones who make the emotional connections who win.  The ones who make rational arguments about cutting waste and balancing budgets and dealing with shortfalls to Social Security get written off as too stodgy and not warm enough. I see rationality as a good thing, but a tough sell. Even if the underlying issues are compassionate, rationality doesn't appeal. So really, this is a "negative" masculine trait, even though I personally think it is a good one.) Want to see a guy become irrational? Just go to a bar and watch another guy hit on his girl! LMAO!! All reason goes out the window....
Assertive (I've been accused of this in my day. If you don't want to be trod upon, then be assertive. It's a good thing. I suppose you could take it too far and be overbearing, but for the most part, have a backbone.) Yes, in a woman it's called Being a Bitch.
Analytical (I test pretty high for this as well. Diva always says to me, "What you say makes sense, but that's not the way most people think, or the way most people behave." And that makes me laugh, since it's hard to empathize when you don't get why people don't think the way you think. Anyway, I think being analytical keeps you from being too stuck in your opinions over time. I am proud to say that I've changed my opinions over the years based on information that's come to me and made me reconsider my ideas.) Aren't analytical and rational pretty much the same? Anyhoo, yes, I have to keep reminding you that the majority of people are neither analytical nor rational? If you have any doubts of that in a male dominated field, just look at the stock market. 
Strong (Strength is emotional as well as physical. Strength is what you need to carry yourself through life. I think you have to learn to be strong, and if you refuse to be strong, your life is harder as a result.)
Brave (This is a universal trait, for sure.  You have to be brave to go to your first day of school. You have to be brave to stand up to others and assert yourself. You always have a choice, of course. But getting through life is one act of bravery after another, really!)
Ambitious (This can be good or bad. How high is your ambition? How do you go about getting what you want? Do you step on others? Is throwing people under the bus involved? Or do you show up and do a good job and look for opportunities? I used to debate this with an ex of mine who thought that when I said, "I let my work speak for itself," and "I only need to compete with myself" was Loser Talk.  He was programmed to think that his star had to shine, no matter what the cost to his personal life or his co-workers.  He wasn't a great boyfriend- a shocker, I know.)
Active (We can't all be the Zen types: you know- we do without doing and everything gets done. Sometimes, we've gotta be active and get things done for realsies.)
Competitive (What, you want incentives in life? You want challenges? You want to be compensated for your abilities? Well, then, you must be a tiny bit (or very much) competitive!)
Insensitive (Ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, if only this were specific to men! Often times I used the phrase, "And now I'm the A-hole!" to get across the point that sometimes people say you're insensitive when you're standing up for yourself. Hmmm, this is a tricky one.)
Sexually aggressive (My friend C said recently, "As women, we say no a lot more than we say yes," and I realized how much that is true. Guys have to keep on trying and trying just to get a woman's attention. I can't imagine what it's like but it must be something.)
Attractive because of achievement (It's the car, the house, the bank account that make you attractive, right? Hey, models marry rich guys. It isn't a coincidence! But that's not always the case.  And like I said before, there wouldn't be a concept of "sugar mamas" if this were truly gender-specific!) 

What do you think? Diva, do you have any thoughts you'd like to add in pink? If so, please chime in!
Really, this is a very complicated issue as both sexes have both "traditionally" masculine and feminine need to have both, yin and yang, or there is imbalance.  There is a definite difference in how boys and girls are taught socially, and really, it's a burden for both to have that kind of a thing heaped on them. I just read an article the other day that said toddlers of both sexes are equally violent, but girls are then taught "it's not nice to hit" so they learn to be violent in their social cues, gossiping, excluding etc. Makes me wonder what would happen if that sort of social conditioning changed altogether? And with that, if I ever have a boy, I'm going to name him Sue.