There was a debate on TV yesterday around whether men are put off by strong women or not. It was fascinating to see the usual polarised responses taking place – YES – NO – OF COURSE THEY ARE YOU MORON! – etc, but what got me thinking was what exactly is a strong woman?
When you think about strength of a person it’s usually in terms of how much they can lift or pull. Women certainly like men with muscles and who can do things for them like move furniture and carry the groceries in. But is all that attractive in a woman? Do men like women who can carry bags of sand or cement, or who can lift twice their own bodyweight on a weightlifting bar? I don’t think so.
There is the view that “strong” women are the ones who know their own mind, aren’t afraid to speak it, have people jumping around to their tune, don’t take no for an answer and who fight their corner tooth and nail. Some would say that isn’t strength, that’s just bad attitude.
We can look to fictional “strong” ladies for some ideas – Elsie Tanner or Bet Lynch in Coronation Street, Dolly Levi of Hello Dolly, Calamity Jane perhaps. They knew their own mind, were probably a bit too single-minded most of the time, but strong? Maybe.
How about famous “strong” women – Margaret Thatcher, Katie Price, Karren Brady for example. A lot of people would think they are strong, but are they really that or are they just clever at projecting that persona to survive in the world of men?
I think that the truth lies somewhere in between all of those views. Yes women have to project a bit of maleness to survive in the world of business or politics, they have to work hard at putting on a front to protect themselves from emotional hurt and damage, and yes they have to be single-minded to achieve what they want from life.
But isn’t that true of everyone, women and men alike? Everyone needs emotional strength as well as physical strength to get through life, so why would one sex be frightened off the other by displays of it? Is it that emotionally strong women discourage the protective side of men whose desire is to look after them? The reverse can be true of women, in that they tend to have the desire to “mother” men and don’t like it when men don’t need it.
Underneath the Kevlar-coated shell of “strong” women tends to lurk a very insecure interior and that shell is in place for a very good reason. So men, if you come across a woman that puts you off because she appears to have it all and be in control, yells and gives her orders, stands and fights you to the death over trivial things, doesn’t ask for comfort or support and who argue their point until you give up and leave them to it then please, just give her a moment longer to find out what it is that she’s fighting for or what she’s hurting about. There will be something underneath the shell.