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On Being A Dominant, Feminine Woman

August 2, 2011

I work in one of those career fields where being a woman can mean that you get summarily dismissed on principle, even if you’re a field expert and publicly recognized as the best of the best. Adding to that mentality are an unfortunate number of females who try to invoke their femininity as reason why they should not have to do certain tasks or attempt to use their sexuality as a manipulative tool. This leaves those of us who are actually interested in being taken seriously by our male peers in a bit of a predicament. How do we maintain our femininity while maintaining their respect?

My apologies in advance to anyone who is not cisgendered, as I am going to focus on male-female heterosexual relationships for this discussion.

Popular culture perpetuates this fantastic stigma of “gold-diggers” – women who want a man with a great job and social status so the woman can live the good life – which is often twisted and applied to women who simply want their men to fall into the roles of traditional providers. Strong, independent, “don’t need a man” women are the ones that are the most desired. But wait, what kind of man wants a woman who doesn’t need him? We all want to be needed, but we don’t want to be with a needy person. But if honestly communicating your wants, needs and desires overwhelms the other person, you’re automatically classified as needy, even if you’re simply being honest.

How am I, as a strong, independent, successful career woman, supposed to be comfortable with myself and unapologetic about my success if the majority of males around me are threatened or emasculated by it? How am I to explain that I’m not interested in having a male housewife as my partner, that I want a partner, not a pet, to the many kinder gentler man I encounter who are perfectly content to have me wear the pants in the relationship? How am I to explain to the insecure Alpha and wanna-be Alpha males around me that my success is not a threat to their status, as long as they treat me like the woman and queen of their world I should be? Power couples are a team, the lady and the gentleman, untouchable in their partnership and status. Submission in that dynamic is the choice of one person to relinquish control to the other, it isn’t ever a weakness, nor should it be considered one.

For many women, including myself, finding the right balance involves a lot of trial and error. The “easy” route is to become “one of the guys”. Start by wearing little or no makeup. Imitate the way they talk. Laugh at the crude jokes and come up with cruder ones. Establish that you can handle whatever gets thrown at you, physically, mentally, emotionally, without melting down or needing help. Never let them see you cry or emotionally vulnerable. Talk about sorts, cars, women, etc. Play sports, drive fast, participate in guy shenanigans. While not a complete or exclusive list, emulating whatever behavior is typical of the dominant male group will eventually earn you a place in its ranks. Do it well and it’s easy to jump to the extremely comfortable number two slot – enforcer and occasional fill in for the leader, without actually being the head mo-fo in charge. Because as most will tell you, being the man in charge tends to be severely overrated.

The cost of this inclusion in the rank structure is far greater than many realize. It is extremely difficult to turn off being “one of the guys” simply because you’ve left the workplace, especially if you’re one of those women who happened to already really enjoy many of the traditional “male” activities I listed above. Oh noes! A woman might actually enjoy going to a strip club, cars, sports, guns, motorcycles..<insert stereotypical male interest here>… It’s the END OF THE WORLD!!!! Oh wait, no, no it isn’t. There are plenty of men who adore the fact that their women can get down and dirty and love the things they love. The issue is that as an unapologetic dominant Alpha female, if I come home and ride roughshod over the man I have there like I do the men I work with, it’s going to absolutely devastate his masculinity. Not to emasculate any men out there or invoke chest-thumping by implying you can’t handle a strong women, but as I’ve had said to me many times “If men wanted to date men, we would. Women need to remember how to be ladies.” I acknowledge that statement to hold a heavy truth to it. I need to act like the woman I want my man to treat me as. If it walks like a man and talks like a man, no one is surprised when it’s treated like a man. But on the other hand, I think that is a piss poor excuse for bad and lazy behavior.

You want an independent woman you say? Financially secure, doesn’t need you to support her, able to pay her bills and handle her business? Great! Then why are you going to knock her for getting things done? If your ideal way to live is to be the main breadwinner, do things to make that happen. This street of having a true lady on your arm goes both ways. If you’re not willing to put in the effort to treat her like a lady, woo with traditional romance and act in manners aligned with traditional gender roles, don’t be surprised when she doesn’t magically turn into a pretty princess who swoons at your every word! I never fail to want to beat my head against something when the men I work with will bash a woman for using flirting and sex to gain an advantage or get out of unsavory duties, but will turn around and ask the pretty girl in the room to go flirt with someone to get a task or item they need, then act confused when I get offended!

I will be the first to admit that women put out conflicting standards for wanting to be treated like a lady, then bashing on males who try to do the small gentlemanly behaviors like opening doors. Seriously ladies, knock it off. The people around us will behave the way we allow them to. It took several years and a failed marriage for me to begin seriously working on myself as a woman. I was miserably unhappy in the way I was viewed, but I clung to the perception that if I acted too much as a lady, I would not be taken seriously by my peers. I subjected myself to actions and comments from my “brothers” which varied from annoying to straight out appalling. I suppressed my emotions to an unhealthy degree. I made myself emotionally and socially unavailable to wonderful people who I wanted to have in my life. And for what? I excelled at work while ostracizing myself so exceptionally well that it took a nearly life-ending emotional breakdown to save me from myself.

I still have a stack of subscriptions when it comes to acting like a girl, but my dominant/male tendencies come with far less apologies now. I have been blessed with an outpouring of wonderful men and women in my life who love and accept me if I’m wearing my girl hat, my dom hat, my nerd hat, or my “fuck you, I hate you” hat. I’ve dipped my toe into the pool of showing my feminine side with the men I work with and was honestly rather astonished with the responses. There was some surprise and a bit of friendly heckling for “being a girl” but the overwhelming result was that they still adore and respect me. I didn’t lose my status for ditching my man card, I didn’t lose my brothers and partners in crime. In fact I think it would be fair to say that I gained more respect and better relationships with them for being genuine, as compared to playing the role. The core issue in all this is a fundamental lack of communication and mutual respect. If you have an ideal relationship format in mind, a way you’d like to be treated, you need to express it clearly and act in accordance with the ideal. If I choose to play shorts, carry a gun and ride motorcycles because I love to, then turn around and get a mani/pedi/facial, dress up like a pinup girl and bake cookies, I’ll just have to be willing to accept that it may take some effort to find a confident gentlemen who will adore me for my dualities and be willing to enjoy the adventure with me. I will always be one of the boys at heart, but that doesn’t exclude my right to throw on a dress and makeup and turn heads as the pretty girl in the room, or my expectations for the men I get involved with to treat me with respect whether I’m covered in mud from a football game or glitter and lace. Well, maybe not glitter. It is the herpes of the arts and crafts world after all.

Until again we meet.

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  1. On Living In A Man’s World « alphafemmeconfessions

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