Why is it that in a world where you can be anything you want, traditional roles are often scoffed at? I’m a woman who believes in the sanctity of marriage, I want to be a mom, and I’m not afraid of my husband or my children disrupting my own self-interest or career.
I already know there are people who disagree with this preference. That’s fine, we are each entitled to our own opinion. But it drives me crazy that if someone’s voice is unpopular, then it immediately becomes irrelevant. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud that women have sought and continue to seek equality in human rights. However, I am not one of those women who feel victimized because of my gender.
Modern Society’s Double Standard
While there are plenty of women out there who want to be treated like men, I don’t, and I think there’s an entire demographic of women who would agree. In the Art of Manliness article “What Can Manly Men Expect of Women?”, husband and wife authors Brett and Kate McKay ask the question, “Could we perhaps say that [female] equality shouldn’t mean embracing and outdoing men in things that were traditionally considered masculine?” They go on to say that women “can’t insist on both being treated like a princess while also being a totally ‘independent woman’ (And that these dual impulses are driving men nuts).”
If women want men to be more masculine, they can’t be opposed to men wanting women to be more feminine.
I often hear women say they just want men to be men. They truly desire manly men, but there seems to be a bit of a double standard. A woman can go on and on about her preferences in masculine qualities and it’s acceptable, but men can’t be so honest without being demonized. For example, a woman can say she prefers that a man takes the initiative in asking her out and pays for their date. Her preferences would be described as chivalry. However, if a man were to say he prefers a woman who puts effort into her appearance and cooks for him, his preferences are sexist. But why? What’s the difference? How does a man paying for a woman’s meal not support the “patriarchal” ideology but cooking for a man does?
Masculinity and Femininity Are Complementary
When you think of traditional masculinity and femininity what do you think of? According to “Feminity,” “Masculinity,” and “Androgyny:” A Modern Philosophical Discussion, feminine traits include “gentleness, modesty, humility, supportiveness, empathy, compassionateness, tenderness, nurturance, intuitiveness, sensitivity and unselfishness,” while traditional masculine traits include “strength of will, ambition, courage, independence, assertiveness, aggressiveness, hardiness, rationality and emotional control.” Are these characteristics biological or influenced by Western culture? Psychologists and philosophers suggest that both are true.
Whether we are naturally programmed with these characteristics or taught them or a combination of both, it doesn’t change the fact that there isn’t anything morally wrong with being attracted to these traits. There’s nothing wrong with a woman being attracted to a man who exhibits masculine characteristics, and there’s nothing wrong with a man being attracted to a woman who exhibits feminine traits. There’s a difference between sexism and embracing feminine and masculine qualities. Feeling drawn to these traits in the opposite sex isn’t the same as suggesting that one gender is superior to the other.
There’s a difference between sexism and embracing feminine and masculine qualities.
The point is these opposing traits complement each other. This doesn’t mean that some women don’t possess what are considered masculine traits and that some men don’t possess attributes that are traditionally considered feminine. Sure they do. But I, for example, identify with more traditionally feminine characteristics, and rather than fight what comes naturally to me, I would rather find a partner whose contrasting masculine traits complement mine.
I like when a man opens doors for me, I don’t mind when a man makes a decision for me when I’m being indecisive, I hope that if one of us were to stay home with our kids that it be me, and dare I say it, I don’t mind cooking. I’m not ashamed of being a girly girl, and I don’t find these labels to be constricting standards developed to objectify women.
No one taught me to have an obsession for foreign perfumes, or the desire to have OPI’s Bubble Bath nail polish perfectly manicured on my toes, or to have an enthusiasm for flower fields, but I do. I enjoy hot baths, lavender sachets in my pillowcases, and expensive candles. I find great satisfaction in clean dishes and in piles of warm clean laundry on my bed to fold.
It takes more effort to fight our instincts than it does to just embrace who we are.
I naturally feel pretty in a dress and heels and a little mascara and lip gloss. I shave my legs and don’t really understand the “no shaving trend.”I love a good, cheesy, romantic comedy, I’m in a book club, and I appreciate cards more than gifts. I have more blankets than I’ll ever need, I journal, and I follow more home decor accounts on Instagram than I’d like to admit. I sometimes cry when I can feel someone’s sadness, I’m curious about the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I often have conversations that don’t have a point.
Are these the detailed characteristics of a stereotypical woman? Totally. I have two brothers who don’t share much curiosity or affinity for anything I just rattled off. I can admit that these interests are very much a part of me, and I want a relationship where my femininity is appreciated. Men naturally have completely different interests and characteristics than women, and thank goodness!
We should want to complement each other naturally. It takes more effort to fight our instincts than it does to just embrace who we are. If women want men to be more masculine, they can’t be opposed to men wanting women to be more feminine. Obviously, some men and women have different expectations, and that’s ok. The point is, we need to stop making people feel bad for preferring traditionally masculine and feminine qualities and roles. While it may not be for everyone, women who embrace what is considered “traditional femininity” naturally give men permission to be more “masculine.”