It all started when I considered the email I sent to Simon this morning. mentioning that I couldn’t wait until I was in his arms again. I thought about what that would feel like – like home. being in his arms feels safe, warm, loving and completely right.
That led my mind to a cartoon I’ve seen on Facebook several times: a woman sitting up in bed looking a bit pissed as she says that all she wants is someone to love her and take care of her and then, oops, she remembers that she’s a strong, independent woman. Oh shit!
Here’s where I’m going with this: do these two thoughts have to be mutually exclusive – wanting to snuggle into a man’s arms and feeling utterly protected while still being a strong woman? Do we have to entirely lose our gender roles in order to achieve respect and equality? I’m going to argue that we do not.
I can only speak for myself, but I know that I love being a woman. With Simon, I feel feminine, pretty (even beautiful), loved and safe. I love how I feel when I am with him: one hundred per cent female. But with Simon I also feel respected and equal. It is not unfeminine to wield a hammer or unmanly to do the dishes.
I recognize that I am strong and independent. I know that I can put in a full day’s work and be good at anything I set my mind to. There are some jobs that I can’t do because I don’t have the strength required. That doesn’t bother me one bit, just as it doesn’t disturb me that I can’t fly a spacecraft because I don’t have the training. I recognize and celebrate my strengths – so does Simon, just as I celebrate his talents and abilities.
I believe it takes strength (and courage) to be all of who we are: not just the strong, courageous bits. Sometimes I will want support. I may even want to be cared for. When I had a fierce cold some months ago, Simon looked after me with great tenderness, and I did not for one minute believe that I was abdicating any part of my independence. When Simon needs my care, I will do the same. His tenderness and gentleness – his vulnerability and his ability to express his emotions make him more of a man.
I used to believe that being strong meant I had to do everything on my own (like the woman in the cartoon). I had to be tough. I did not allow myself to cry – way too girly. Besides, when I cried I was accused of being manipulative. I learned to hide my emotions.
I believe that we can be strong, gentle, kind, vulnerable, loving, independent and interdependent all at the same time. Perhaps that is what real strength is about – embracing all of who we are and not being afraid to be all of who we are.
And so, I will snuggle into Simon’s embrace and feel love and give love and receive love and know that we are both strong people who are unafraid to be in love and to show it.