Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Woman's Place

It used to be that a woman’s place was only in the home. There were exceptions, like my mother a single working parent, but very few. That’s changed over time along with the old definition of women’s work. Among my friends there’s now a division of labor which is more the norm. Of course, there will always a few hold-outs clinging to the notion that the ‘old way’ was the best way. But for the most part, logic and common sense have come to prevail.

I do the laundry at home and help house-clean; have for years. My wife handles our personal finances and I manage our investments. I do the yard work and she supervises the household. That routine is in stark contrast to the paradigm of responsibility in which we were raised. Nowadays, it’s a division of labor based on who wants to do what or who is the most qualified to handle it. I find it fascinating that some men still cling to the old standards in lieu of a more reliable, realistic divisions of labor.

I never found it unmanly to change diapers, do laundry or wash the dishes. On the other hand, I wouldn’t trust me to make a meal or manage a dinner party or host an event at our home. In those settings, I’m comfortable following directions and not allowing my ego to get in the way of a real pro (my wife.)

Mom & I

Perhaps it was being raised by a strong-willed, self-sufficient mother that made me comfortable around independent women.  I’ve always had this attraction for ambitious brainy women. Now I’m not talking about a woman’s intellectual capacity per say. That’s a given between the two genders. What I’m talking about is an intuitive second-nature that seems so natural with many of the women I knew and still know today. It’s an understanding of how the world works that sometimes escapes many of the men I know…myself included.

I think it’s in their genes. Perhaps some kind of ancient biological metamorphosis that rendered women better able to process life’s intricacies and then somehow translate them into something that actually makes sense. It’s a skill that not a lot of men possess. Men are too logical and rational. We’re too black and white. The grays get it more often than not.

Like the women presently in my life, I’ve been most fortunate to have had interesting women woven through my past lives. Now I find after all these years there is actually a name for these special kind of women…. Alpha females, who knew?

On the Urban Dictionary web site, the definition of an alpha female is the dominant female in a group. She is intelligent, an intellectual problem solver and a hard worker as well as often busy. Yep, that pretty much describes those women I’ve known and still know today.

I stumbled across another site called Askmen.com. The site had a list of “Six signs that you’re dating an alpha female.” OMG…reading it was like discovering your own Myers-Briggs Personality Profile for the first time. Suddenly a light bulb goes off and many of those incidents, events and actions and reactions on her part actually make sense now…at least from her point of view.

Talk about eye-opening. Where was that information fifty plus years ago when I thought dating was like dancing though a field of clover and it was actually a minefield instead? Right from the beginning the roles were reversed. It wasn’t a fair contest and I didn’t even know it.

You’d think that after stumbling through high school, dating a girl who eventually married a doctor, I would have learned my lesson and dated safer women. Not a chance, the woman I dated in college finished school in three years and ended up marrying a fellow who became department chair at one of the service academies.

Undaunted, I continued my quest and kept seeking out stimulating women whose company I enjoyed…even if they were a challenge sometimes. So what happened to that unsuspecting lamb? I ended up marrying the leader of the pack. Her upbringing and background qualify her for such status that I tried to document it in The Girl with Seven Suede Jackets.

I’m not ashamed to admit that my wife is right about most things 90% of the time. Of course, she would claim 110% all of the time but that’s just her. Does it bother me? Yes and no.

No, it doesn’t bother me. The advice I get from her is heart-felt and usually right on the money. The advice is free and plentiful. Well, not exactly free, I’m married to it and it is OUR money.
Yes, of course, it bothers me.

Its tiring having your spouse always be right. It can be irritating at times especially when the obvious is presented as so rational and logical that only a fool wouldn’t be able to grasp it the first time around.

But that doesn’t make women perfect. Far from it. They can be irrational, illogical, emotional and quick to judge. They can act coy and elusive and consider that being safe. They can give mixed messages and consider it undecided. They can play one against the other and consider it evening the odds.

I’ve known enough women to never underestimate their intuitive nature and ability to see the obvious even if it’s well camouflaged to most men. That’s what I was trying to say in The Dutiful Wife; that women are inherently more intuitive than most men and shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

Smart, brainy women are a cut above the rest and that’s why they populate many of my novels and screenplays. They’re simply more interesting characters with a depth and richness that is fun to mine. Sage was my latest protagonist a cut above the rest.

My wife, daughter and daughter-in-law are among some of the smartest women I know. But even before that I had a thing for women who could hold their own in conversation and life. My weakness continues to this day. I’m still surrounded by smart, intuitive women and I love it.

My wife likes to pontificate that if men were smarter they’d realize that just the smallest of gestures made without any specific purpose or goal in mind is a million times more effective than the expected holiday gift or birthday offering. If men knew or just understood that simple fact, they could get just about anything they wanted.

Yeah, I would agree…except if it’s that simple how come it’s so hard to do?

Now that my granddaughters are maturing beyond their chronological ages, I can already see that they are all very bright and strong-willed. It would not be a stretch to say they are becoming true alpha females, all three of them. I’ve already gone off on that topic in ConstantCharlotte.

I used to worry about my granddaughters when they were old enough to begin dating. Now I worry about their dates instead. Those poor guys won’t know what they’re getting themselves into.

Maybe I could meet them at the door and explain what my granddaughters are really like.
But no, I don’t think so. It took me a lifetime to figure out those kind of women and I’m still working at it.

They’re going to have to figure it out for themselves.

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