I spoke earlier to someone who defined her role as a women as a direct reaction to the existence of men. I went on to query her about this and then reflected that for me, the role of female only is played out in the contrast and complimentary ways I see women around me. Femininity and the archetype of woman becomes this model and how I recognize the reflections on that model, in my innate actions and ways to strive to stretch and enjoy myself as a woman, defines my notion of it.
I’ve commented on this before, but I do have a lot of testosterone in my life. And while I do think that several of the men I have interactions with are not necessarily loading their representations of masculinity with things that media might value – beer-swilling, roof-fixing, sport-watching – they do decidedly inhabit a different gender model. [This is starting to sound very grad school theory here.]
The point: when a female friend of mine, K, was scheduled to arrive from Colorado to spend a couple days around the end of the year, not only was I happy in the idea of catching up, I was crazy excited to do things that established me firmly in the role of woman. Moving away from high falutin’ language, I wanted to do damn girly things.
“Oh my God. You have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.”
I sneak through the racks behind her as she says this to the boy behind the counter.
“Please, please tell me you’re dating someone,” she breathes.
He gives a bit of an abashed chuckle. “Yeah. And his name is Jesus.”
And did we. I own two new purses. My toes are flaking off purple nail polish. I discovered that I might never be able to do eyeliner because I’m a white girl and not because I was doing it wrong.
We also talked of course, rambling nonstop, speculating on the failings of men, our failings with men, our failings with ourselves, then turning around and highlighting the good, questioning life, questioning the future, and reaffirming who we were in retrospection of the choices we made, good or bad.
“Guess what our song was?”
“‘It’s Been A While’ by Staind.”
I walked past her in the aisle as we browsed Target. She had frozen, her mouth hung open and her head dropped cocked to the side. She mimicked a strangled noise. “But!”
“I know,” I replied.
“Oh, yes, I know.”
“BUT THAT’S NOT EVEN A DAMN LOVE SONG.”
I laughed, “It’s called foreshadowing.”
(Alert! Overarching generalization ahead that I’ll be quick to tell you doesn’t always work like this, but keeping this in mind as a woman is helpful.) Men are solution-oriented: don’t like the girlfriend? Break up with her. Don’t like yourself? Workout more and fix it. What is the meaning of XX? Why… is there a problem with it?
On the first night from the ride to the airport, I had K stop me and tell me straight-out in midstream: she didn’t need a solution from me, she just wanted to hear herself think. I think I’m a hybrid when it comes to this. I like to talk myself into and out of a lot of mental briar patches, but I’m very willing to hear other sides to what I have fall out of my mouth. I won’t necessarily take advice, but I will use suggestions to trigger the new paths of where my own mind goes. These suggestions can still come from women, who in their own rambling, will highlight something to you and take something from you and highlight it for themselves, and in the same breath tell you that both of those purses look very good on you.