Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Feminine side

Posted by Kirk
While eating lunch the other day I noticed the title of the feature article in the Utne Reader. It was : "Embrace Your Feminine (You too, guys)"

The title immediately sent up my hackles as it reminded me of a moment back in high school.

It was the end of my junior year as I stepped into the gymnasium to pick up my yearbook. In the past, our yearbooks had just been delivered to our classroom but this year was different. People enjoyed this new distribution method as it was a great opportunity to see a lot of people and get them to sign your book. At one point I ran into my friend Steve. Steve was a senior and a guy I looked up to. We hadn't really had a huge amount of time to spend together that year but we'd done some cool things and had some great conversations. It was too bad that he was a senior and I was a junior because he was going off to college and inevitably we'd not be able to have those great conversations and share ideas on music, the universe and everything. While this wasn't the last day of school it was very close and signing a person's yearbook brings a kind of closure. We talked for a little while and then said, "see you around," knowing that wouldn't be the case. We gave each other a hug, which was not unusual for my group of friends and that's where the story really begins. One of our female friends who was standing around saw us hug each other goodbye and said something to the effect of, "It's so great to see men comfortable expressing their feminine side."

We were both taken aback by this statement and it turns out we were both thinking the same thing. You see, women want sensitive men. They want us to express ourselves. They want us to be in touch with our feelings and emotions, as well as the feelings and emotions of others. This is not something I work on. My Meyers-Briggs profile is INFP. I am Intorvert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perciever. (Thank Dog I wasn't raised Catholic or I'd be full of self hatred.) It is in my nature to exhibit characteristics some are so quick to label, "feminine."

Herein lies the problem. To label actions feminine and masculine is to assign them to a specific gender. These are the things men do and these are the things women do. Women want men to show their emotions but when they do, the women then label those actions "feminine" i.e. something that is contrary to the very nature of what a man is.

Is it any wonder men don't want to show emotions when women label men as feminine for doing so?

You can't have your cake and eat it too women. If you want men to show that they are in touch with their feelings and if you want them to express their emotions then you need to give up on the monopoly and stop calling these things feminine.

Imagine this, a woman friend applies for a job as a corporate CEO (traditionally a male role) and I say to her, "Hey, it's good to see you showing your masculine side." I would guess I would no longer be able to count her as a friend. The statement is totally offensive.

Is it really any different when women comment on men "showing their feminine side?"