August 1, 2008
After I posted about the pleasure of being appreciated as a woman, I decided some clarification is in order. The fact that I see clarification as necessary speaks volumes about our culture.
Please read my previous post before you read further here.
When I refer to being appreciated as a woman, what did you think I mean? Did you assume I mean sexually?
Of course appreciation can include that, but should not be automatically reduced to that. How about other feminine qualities? Like grace, beauty, refinement and creativity? How about nurturing and healing, loving and creating social connections? While these qualities are in no way exclusive to women, they are among the qualities women tend to excel in, and they are also qualities that many women enjoy being appreciated for. Of course no woman wants to be put in a box that undermines appreciation for, say, her business savvy and physical accomplishments. But why not appreciate both as appropriate?
Yes, this goes both ways. What does it mean to be appreciated as a man? I’m finding some new ways I didn’t imagine before – some I won’t elaborate on, and one I will. I invite your thoughts on what you think it means to be appreciated as a man.
The enlightened among us know that we all have male and female qualities, that behind male and female is our divine humanity, and that in many ways, our gender is a costume we wear over our souls. The more enlightened still, know that while all that is true, it feels really good to be appreciated as a woman – or as a man. Male and female isn’t some cosmic mistake. It’s a gift to be enjoyed. If we neutralize our differences it will keep us from experiencing The UltiMate(tm) Relationship.
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A friend told me about a man who admired her over dinner. At our age, we don’t get the same kind of male attention that we once did, and it’s a singular event when it happens. While we don’t mind that much, it can be nice to be appreciated. It’s nice to be appreciated for professionalism, enthusiasm, our brilliance, achievements – and it is fun to be appreciated as a woman. I assume men would say they enjoy being appreciated as men too.
But not all attention is as delightful as others. My friend and I tried to distinguish between the “thanks for noticing” attention and the “I need to take a shower” kind of attention. The difference seems to be in intent.
Some men sincerely revel in women’s essence, tendencies and natures. My friends and I think Johnny Depp’s Don Juan DeMarco movie should be mandatory viewing for young men because it shows the way many if not most women yearn to be appreciated. Don Juan’s heart is open in awe and appreciation of feminine beauty.
Other men seem to enjoy a sense of power over women. They tap into women’s deep yearnings for their own ego purposes. The appreciation doesn’t quite reach the heart.
They’re nothing like interacting someone who sees and fully appreciates who you are. When someone recognizes your depth and your beauty and reflects their appreciation back to you, it enlivens that beauty.
Of course when I’m presenting a brilliant training proposal, I want my listener to appreciate me as a professional. When I’m giving someone the perfect words to say what they mean, I want my listener appreciate me as a word smith. Many women have histories of being appreciated as women to the exclusion of our other qualities. That has given gender appreciation a bad name. This bad name has left many men reluctant to express any kind of admiration toward women. A question in my SpeakStrong blog triggered a great deal of dialogue and hints from women who were more interested in coaching that condemning a man who was baffled by a response he received. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Appropriateness is always key. But within the boundaries of appropriateness, they’re something exquisite about a woman being in the company of someone who appreciates her as a woman. It is a gift indeed.