December 03, 2014

Belittle Ole Me

Do Men Dislike Confident Women?

Disclaimer: This post was written by a confident, secure and overall brilliant bitch. 

The word insecure is such a scary word, with such negative connotations. We hear it, and we think of...what? - All the insecurities that we have. Maybe it's the number that appears on the scale when we step on it. Maybe it's our height. Maybe it's how attractive or not so attractive we feel when we're at a close proximity to certain others. Maybe it's a feeling. Something we felt when we were young, in a classroom perhaps? We raised our hand, shouted an answer out proudly, only to be terribly embarrassed when we realized we were wrong. Maybe it's a twinge we get when we're dating, or even in a full blown relationship, and worried about the other person opting out, or finding out something about us that would change their good opinion. At one point or another in our lives, we have all known the feeling of insecurity.

For me, insecurity is linked to fear, and I've always tried my best to face and conquer my fears. My insecurities over the years have changed, as one by one I've vanquished them like the nasty little demons that they are. There was a time (a time I like to call Hell - high school) when I was terribly insecure about being thin (among other things), or as people often called me, skinny. Skinny is like thin's ugly cousin. It means the same thing but there's a negative connotation to it, one that brings to mind other words, like sickly. As a result, I wore jeans all year round, too ashamed and embarrassed of my legs to wear shorts, lest the world witness my skinny little legs. I felt uncomfortable in fitted clothing, and tended to layer to try and appear...well...bigger. 

And then something changed. And I don't think it was that I necessarily gained confidence. I think it was that it just got really, really hot. And I couldn't take it anymore. Why the hell would I want to walk around all summer, literally sweating my booty off in jeans when I could easily feel comfortable in shorts? So I wore them. I wore them, and walked around for a while braced for the onslaught of snide comments and teasing jokes. And they never came. What's more, I started walking by reflective surfaces in my shorts and realized that I looked perfectly fine. There was nothing wrong with my supposedly skinny little legs. In fact, my legs were long, toned from decades of ballet, and frankly pretty fabulous. That one summer, somewhere around seventeen, I got over my legs.

From time to time people do tease me about being so thin. They don't always realize that their words have the potential to hurt, although sometimes certain comments are clearly meant to chop me down to size (which is ironic because I'm pretty petite to start with). I've always thought it was interesting that social courtesies fly out the window at times, in certain situations. For example, when someone is overweight people seem to assume their weight is a sensitive matter, and don't say things like, "and how many Big Macs did you have last year?", or "why do you think your body has such a problem turning carbs into energy instead of fat?" Yet when someone is under average weight, like me, people have no problem asking if we eat (as though we could survive if we didn't), or whether we have an eating disorder we want to confess (as though they're our therapist). Overtime I've learned to hold onto my security even when others attempt to threaten it. Also, I've found that people seem to suddenly realize the inappropriate nature of blatantly discussing someone's body when you embrace the conversation, and begin discussing their bodies as well. 

I've found that it helps to accept their apologies gracefully. 

I say this only to illustrate that I know what insecurity is, and that I understand that being secure with who you are is easier said than done and cannot happen overnight, even if you wish it would. The path to personal security is a long journey that one must pursue deliberately if one ever hopes to arrive at their destination. 

When I was insecure and lacked basic confidence, I also found myself in a very bad relationship that spanned almost four years. During that time, I was a very quiet person who was very easy to mistreat. Not that I was necessarily shy. Most people have always considered me a more outgoing personality, in fact. But when it came to my own self-worth and respect, I was a mute. I didn't stand up for myself. Not ever, not even in matters that were damn near life or death. I avoided confrontation like it was the plague, always bending and twisting to try and fix problems before they even started, usually by anticipating and trying to meet the needs of others. I was a people pleaser for a long, long time. 

And for a long, long time, I was also deeply unhappy. Resentful. Because I never got what I needed, and it seemed like everyone else around me always did.

I don't know if I woke up in a day, or if I was rubbing my eyes, stretching, and coming out of a twenty year old insecure sleep over the course of months and years. But there came a day where confidence was no longer a dream of mine; a goal that I hoped I could someday achieve. Confidence - my confidence - was real. It was a fact.

That said, something that having unwavering confidence has shown me in the past few years is this:
Some men do not like confident women.

It's funny, because if you ask around men will tell you that insecurity is unattractive. That they like a woman who is confident. But a lot of times when the words women and insecure are coupled in the same sentence, I think men assume this is only in a woman's relation to other women. Secure means she is confident sitting at a bar alone, and insecure means she has to travel with a pack of girlfriends, or that she's constantly looking around, comparing herself to other women. But security has nothing to do with other women, other men, or other people period. Security; confidence - is personal. 

If I'm confident, and I'm on a first date having a conversation with a man who says something I disagree with, I'm going to tell him. I'm going to voice my opinion. I'm going to stand by my ideas and beliefs unless or until I have a reason to abandon or evolve them. I am not going to suddenly stop wearing makeup if a man suggests to me that he isn't a fan of it. I'm not going to stop wearing my hair naturally curly if a man hints that he likes it better straight. It's that kind of security, confidence and strength that some men find more than annoying, more than off-putting, but absolutely emasculating. 

I've heard it time and time again: Let a man be a man. 

Excuse me? Let him? You mean, pretend to be weak so that he can feel strong? Pretend not to be too bright so he can feel smart? Pretend you have no idea where things are or how things work so he can always save the day with the correct navigation or the right wrench for the job? 

Why do women have to let men be anything? Why can't they just be.

The way I just am strong, why can't he just be strong too? The way I just am smart, why can't he also just be smart. Why does it take my weakness to help him find his strength? Why does he need my confusion to feel smart? Why should the source of his confidence be found off the back of my insecurity? And on what planet does that make him a man?

I never have, nor will I ever believe in women "shrinking to fit". Not all men have this hangup about confident, powerful women. Sometimes it's because they are confident and secure enough themselves that they don't need the other sex to be weaker to feel comfortable. Sometimes it's because they really don't mind a Lady Macbeth. 

So why don't some men like confident women? 
Because they want to feel like Tarzan, and in order for them to be Tarzan, they need to be with a non-threatening Jane. 

I believe that the idea that a woman should let a man be a man by turning herself down is a remnant of a different age. It is not our job as women to be anything less than what or who we are if we want a relationship. If he needs to feel like Tarzan, there's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't mean you need to step down to allow him to be. 

It means he needs to step up.

x's and many o's,



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