What happens when women act like men?
I don’t normally study women’s courtship behavior the way a zoologist watches mating ducks, but at a recent dinner party I was struck by how several single women descended on a particularly handsome male specimen.
I observed how they jockeyed for a spot next to him, how they competed with each other for his attention, how they circled and moved in for the win. I wondered, when did women become like men?
I know it’s politically fashionable for the modern woman to demonstrate a balancing act of masculine and feminine—to take out the garbage and tuck in the kids, to fix the flat tire and to chef up the dinner, to run a corporation and to get a pedicure. But beyond this sort of “I can do anything a man can do” bravado, I am left feeling we fairer of the sex have lost our way.
We’ve simply lost the art of being womanly, and nowhere has it become more apparent than when women pursue men with the ferocity of a predator. No wonder older women stalking younger men have earned the nickname cougars. They have become what men have traditionally been—hunters.
This is not to say liberated women don’t relish a wide range of self-expression and exploration. As my good friend and author Robin Rice wrote to me recently, “we are wanderers, labyrinth walkers, deep sea divers and flying high mistresses of the moon.” In other words, we are multifaceted and mysterious creatures capable of accessing both our masculine and feminine aspects.
What if we were to embrace the receptive feminine within us with the same ardor with which we sought the right to vote? What if we allowed ourselves to reclaim a new feminine that is both strong and supple?
There are others who have written about this topic of the feminine-in-crisis. David Deida, well known for his work exhorting men to man-up and women to soften (The Superior Man, Dear Lover), notes:
“As a culture we have advanced in terms of personal freedom, sexual equality and social rights but we have remained spiritually thwarted and afraid. For the sake of individual autonomy and social fairness, with only good intentions in mind, we have erroneously begun to smooth out and neutralize our masculine and feminine differences.”
Deida further asserts that polarity, not neutrality, is the key to a robust union.
Every human (whether male or female) has either a primarily masculine or feminine essence. The litmus test for your core is this: would you rather ravish, or be ravished?
The ravisher is at his or her center, masculine. This is the timeless appeal of Harlequin Romance novels. Women instinctively crave a strong male who will not be nagged nor cajoled into submission, but rather a man who will make us swoon with his assured masculine presence.
This polarity dance is not simply an old-fashioned romance convention but a universal and primal drive. While women can be capable and assured, we also want to be soft and surrendered, offering ourselves to a male worthy of our trust.
While I have known the rare woman who is truly masculine, I have a hard time believing that the women at that dinner party circling the single male had anything but a feminine inner identity. Yet they were acting like men in their pursuit of the eye-candy in the room.
I can hear the feminist outcry now. How dare I judge a women’s right to get what she wants, any way she wants it. And to that I say, “yes, but.” Yes when you chase a man you might get his attention, but you are unlikely to win his devotion.
When a woman becomes rapacious in her quest for a man, she also becomes a taker. This voraciousness is at odds with what a man really wants in a woman. Because, as Deida reminds us, in his heart a man wants to be received by a woman, not taken.
Just after my divorce, I tried my hand at the cougar game. The male target was almost ten years younger and easy prey. I never doubted I had the balls to lure and catch him. But what I didn’t have, at the end of the day, was the heart to keep him.
I had played a game of taking what I wanted at the expense of attracting what we both really needed—a relationship that was potent and transformative in it’s polarity.
I know a young woman who is going through an experiment of playing the field in a masculine way. This entails going out to bars and clubs, and like a heat-seeking missile, targeting buff guys to take home. While this behavior is not wrong in any moralistic way, it is the wrong direction if what a woman wants is to experience maleness in its full glory.
A man in the clutches of a woman doing the “I came, I saw, I conquered” routine, is a man robbed of the chance to penetrate a woman’s defenses and win her surrender.
Sure, it’s a heady and powerful feeling to go after a man. After all, conquest has a particular flush of sweet satisfaction. Yet the deeper joy that a woman seeks—if she is honest with herself—is not in winning but in wooing.
When we allow ourselves to be radiantly present we are like the light that draws the moth. We need do nothing but be fully ourselves, and in that offering we attract a true candidate for our heart—a man who has the capacity to fully open us, so that we can fully receive him.
This poem I by Mirabai, a 16th century saint and songstress from India, speaks to me of the offering nature of the feminine essence, free of the modern day mistake that taking works best:
“I want you to have this,
the beauty in my eyes,
all the grace of my mouth,
all the splendor of my strength,
all the wonder of the musk parts of my body,
for are we not talking about real love, real love?”
Ultimately the luscious truth of being a woman with a feminine essence is that I am an invitation to the masculine. I invite the masculine to take me. I offer myself, all of me, when I give up the belief that my worth is measured by my sexual prowess or my ability to seduce.
For once, I get that my feminine power is not fueled by acquisition and performance, but by the beauty of my surrender.
Editor: Jennifer Cusano
Lori Ann Lothian is the creator of the popular The Awakened Dreamer blog (http://theawakeneddreamer.com) which hit the stands following an overnight Enlightenment Episode that revolutionized her sex life and destroyed any chance at ever being miserable again. Lori Ann lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she has learned to transcend the rain and surrender to mega doses of vitamin D
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