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Wondering whether I’m a woman

October 1st, 2004 · 7 Comments

No, this doesn’t have to do with the makeup etc. debate found here and in various blogs through the past week. Maybe I feel a bit insecure about my lack of cosmetic adornment (Northwest native fashion) and clipped, unpainted nails (perfect though for guitar playing, when I get to it). I don’t do high heels(I’d be too tall to kiss Ted comfortably). I don’t have a supermodel figure or a soprano voice. But when I am with my husband, children and friends, I don’t wonder whether I am a woman.

Often I feel quite confident of my femininity. That is, until I walk into a room of women. There’s something about an all- female group that intimidates me. I realized this suddenly last week when I visited one. It’s a bit of junior high deja vu. I suddenly feel I’m on the outside of an enormous clique. Something inside me is still thirteen. I’m terrified and feeling instantly insecure and rejected. These women belong but I don’t. They have their group language, history and secret jokes. They even have the same hair. They are friends. I am certain I will never fit.

I push these fears aside and put a smile on my face. But it gets worse. The group starts discussing crafts….

At this stage of life, when I make the extensive effort to get together with other women, I’d like some intellectual interaction. Let’s discuss the federal deficit! Or talk about terrorist networks. Teach ourselves how to hack an OS kernel. Okay, I’d settle for hacking HTML instead. CSS? RSS? Or even exploring some simple psychology. Neural anatomy and brain development. Hey, I’d even enjoy playing with some politics. Let’s make presidential election predictions based on the recent state polls. Or debate national security, capital punishment and gun control.

But please don’t ask me to control a gun of glue and assemble fabric flowers into some sort of wall montage. I’ll make a dress for my daughter or curtains for a window. At home. But don’t ask me to trim pictures into stencil shapes, paint pumpkins, or spell my child’s middle name with macaroni. It’s just not me.

But then I begin to wonder whether it is me who is the problem. I begin to wonder whether I am a woman. I don’t seem to enjoy these girlie groups. I don’t like to do crafts. I don’t like the fluffy chatter. I want to go deep and intense and direct. Forget gluing flowers to hang on the wall. Or gluing nails on my fingers. But then am I truly feminine? Why don’t I like to hang out with my peers? What kind of woman am I? I’d rather interact with people through the computer than drive 20 miles across the county to sit in a church basement in person.

Where are the women in blogging seems to be a constant question. Female bloggers can be uncommon. But I am realizing that where I want to be is with the women who are in the blogs. And with bloggers in general…

A few other posts in the past week caught my eye on gender differences and men and women:

Michael Williams feigned surprise that men and women are different. I don’t fit many of his ideas(definitions?) about women, but that’s good…for a number of reasons…

Beth Grigg has some ideas for future Microsoft conferences for men and women.

You are invited to the first annual conference on work-life balance for all male Microsoft employees. Topics include:
• How to have a real relationship
• How to go home for the night even though it won’t compile

Scheherazade wrote

My criteria are fairly simple for dating: I’m looking for someone cute, fun, and smart. It is easy to find two out of the three, but all three in one package is harder.

Guess I got really lucky! 🙂

Tags: women

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tina // Oct 1, 2004 at 6:18 am

    Hi Julie,
    I’ve been reading your blogs through Enoch’s page..
    Quite happy to see your particular blog here. I too am terrified to be with a group of women. Even the women’s group at church sometimes just seems not ‘right’ for me although all the gals there are as sweet as they can be.
    I love your blogs, and you’re quite a photographer as well… So we don’t like crafts. Big deal. They should move on to photo-blogging anyway.. it’s 2004 🙂

  • 2 pops // Oct 1, 2004 at 11:15 am

    When Mr. Man was 3 he went to co-op preschool two days a week. The first rule was that a parent had to come along to help.

    I was the only father.

    Always the topic of crafts came up. Some one would stop and ask, “What crafts does your wife do?”


    That just honked them off. They thought I was being belligerent. But I wasn’t. Finally Mom went in my place and she finally confirmed she didn’t do crafts all the other women stopped speaking to her.

    What is it with the crafts?

    Is that something Oprah commands you to do?

  • 3 Bob V // Oct 2, 2004 at 3:06 pm

    It’s all relative. I was somewhat proud of the fact that I was broadening my horizons by including a woman’s blog in my aggregator. Little did I know that today I would get told by the author that she wasn’t being a proper, typical girl.

    Maybe that’s what drew me here in the first place though. I certainly wouldn’t be here if all Julie talked about was crafts!

  • 4 Katherine // Oct 2, 2004 at 4:14 pm

    I never know what to do on crafty type nights the women at our church organize. Come to think of it, I’m not sure they even invite me anymore 😉 The kind of thing where you’re supposed to bring your own hot glue gun (I had to purchase one for some occasion, and asked the hostess just to keep it for me for future such events!). I think I made too much of a fuss when I heard there was sewing involved in one of the crafts – a skill I never learned. You are very skilled in that arena, Julie…you are actually very crafty, you’re just specialized!

    Final comment: I got lucky with a husband covering all the important bases, too, Julie, just like you 🙂

  • 5 Julie // Oct 4, 2004 at 1:19 am

    Tina and Katherine and Pop’s Mom: glad to know I’m in good company! I confess I do own a glue gun and use it occasionally. You may be right Katherine that I am a bit crafty, but when I get together with other women, there are other things I would rather do.

    Pops: Crafts may be commanded by Oprah but I wouldn’t know. Martha Stewart is a more likely suspect…

    Bob: Sorry to disappoint you. Maybe the post I wrote about women and clothing shopping will make it up to you…and if you’d like to read more women blogs in your aggregator I’d be happy to send you a list 🙂

  • 6 Bob V // Oct 7, 2004 at 4:29 pm

    I was thinking some more about this post the other day. Is it possible the real problem isn’t your womanhood but with the previously discussed issue of your being a nerd?


    It might not be all that important that we correctly categorize the variety of ways we don’t fit in to different situations, but I thought I’d suggest the possibility.

  • 7 Julie // Oct 8, 2004 at 1:03 am

    Thanks, Bob, for your thoughtfulness. I never have thought of myself as a “nerd” until recently (blogging). My high school didn’t have “nerds” or some of the experiences Paul Graham describes (great article!) I also never thought of myself as “that good” at math or science, etc. to be a nerd! It could be though that I am a nerd…especially if you think so! 🙂