Girls can lead and be loved.
Tale as old as time, Beauty constantly behaves as though she were weak, stupid, and all-around incapable in order to attract her Beast. Nearly every movie and sitcom involving a romance revolves around this theme, but whatever it does for a plot in fiction, it is an absolute tragedy when carried out in real life. Even as women have made progress, from being able to vote in all 50 states, to being just as likely to further their education, this classic attitude remains the case: when a girl seems just as strong or smart as a boy she is interested in – or, heaven forbid, stronger or smarter in some ways – she is expected and often encouraged to tone down her own talents and achievements in order to appease this boy’s ego. Why on earth do we think this is ok?
The answer, unfortunately, seems to be a simple one: women are still taught that men want to be stronger/smarter/better, and that if they are not superior to their girlfriends or wives they will leave them. At the same time, boys are mocked for doing anything “like a girl,” and taught that if they are not better than every girl they know in nearly every imaginable way, they have failed. Some churches even put their own spin on this, telling girls to foster a “meek and gentle spirit” while the boys are told to “go forth and the Lord will fight for you,” with rarely a second's thought given to the different messages for boys and girls.
So, what happens when a couple breaks that mold? When the woman continues pursuing her gifts and her significant other and he, instead of feeling threatened by it, encourages her? What happens when the woman is far louder in a crowd, more prone to fill a leadership vacuum, and the more stereotypical type A leader than her male counterpart?
Love, that’s what.
My significant other, Nick, and I met at a high school camp, and since the beginning there has been an understanding between us. We walked the same way, talked the same way, and we were both equally shocked to find a someone so much like us. Everything just clicked, like the fairy tales we are taught no longer exist – overly romantic, maybe, but everyone around us noticed the way our personalities fit from the day that we met. As time went on it became more and more obvious that we both had an unquenchable desire to learn more about this stranger like me (Cue Phil Collins). We have laughed, cried, and screamed at the world together, and while there have definitely been rough times, we would not have had it any other way. We both had to adapt to each other’s lifestyles as best we could, figure out the quirks and communication styles, and learn how to work with and love our differences as much as we had loved our similarities. We have worked hard to build a relationship that we can be proud of, and through it all I have never been put in the position of playing the dumb down ditz instead of pushing forward as I usually do.
Quite the opposite from the stereotypes people generally think of in boy-meets-girl scenarios, Nick met me completely in my element, and adored me every second. “When I met her, she was really nice and understandable, and we immediately became friends, you could say it just kept growing from there.”
I’m not sharing all of this information to try to show anyone up, but to show leading ladies like myself that there is nothing wrong with being strong in who you are, and waiting for a guy who can keep up (or at least tries to). There is no reason to settle for someone who thinks you should be less than what you are, and while no one is truly perfect, the person you spend your life with should accept you as you are and want to help you grow. The last thing they should want is for you to stuff your gifts down so they can look better standing next to you. In the words of my leading fella, “No self respecting guy who loves his girlfriend would ever want to bottle up who they are, just so they are more socially acceptable.”
Being a woman does not make you less of a leader, or less worthy of working toward your goals, and any guy who cannot see that is probably not a good better half for you.
So, logistically, how does this play out in the real world? Keep your eyes peeled, we’ve got a sequel or few coming.