My blogger friend Jen just posted an insightful essay about Grrlpower and how women and girls are faced with the frustrating perception that femininity and power are mutually exclusive.
Without meaning to steal the female-thunder on this, I’d like to suggest that men face a similar conundrum.
When push comes to shove, we cannot actually be both Strong and Sensitive at the same time (despite this being an oft-requested combo in personal ads). Strong = masculine and manly and decisive. Sensitive = in touch with the ‘feminine’ site, thoughtful, collaborative.
Can you think of any CEO’s who are respected for their strength and sensitivity? I can’t. Er, maybe Meg Whitman (of ebay), but… hmm… any males?
Politicians? Hmm. Too often it seems to be stereotypically delineated by party label. Republicans = Strong (security, defense, upholding of paternalistic morals, etc.), Democrats = Sensitive (caring, community, health, etc.)
Why did Republicans sweep the recent elections? We’re Afraid; they’re Strong. Why have most Democrats become spineless booted-out-office-wimps? Because they failed to see how being characteristically sensitive (feeling our unemployed pain, for instance) could have been balanced against fears of national (in)security.
One day, we’ll note that successful CEO’s, effective politicians, wonderful potential boyfriends and great parents CAN have a mixture of Strength and Sensitivity.
Until then, though, girls will be girls and boys will be boys. And we’ll keep talking and acting past each other, not with each other.