women, masculinity, small business, and relationships

Over the past two weeks my boyfriend and I have been reading The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. Or, more accurately, he has been reading it and I have heard several chapters and a spattering of passages. The book definitely has a strong point of view and is intended for men. From my perspective, it seems to be a slightly humorous Maxim magazine translation of timeless wisdom.

Surprisingly, I have had a lot to think about based on the topics presented despite the focus on the male point of view.

You see, Deida talks a lot about the balance of masculine and feminine energy in relationships. Though these masculine and feminine energies can be found in all people, most people are an unbalanced mix of the two, which is a good thing. (A same sex couple, for example, could have one more masculine energy partner and one more feminine energy partner, he says.)

He claims that this complimentary contrast between the two energies in intimate relationships is very good and healthy. While the workplace has become more and more neutralized with these energies in both sexes, he insists that the polarity of the male and female energy at home keeps things balanced – and steamy.

Though I may not agree with 100% of what he lays out, I can say that I have found myself nodding in agreement many times.

And after an honest chat with my boyfriend, it became clear that though I do definitely have a more feminine energy as a whole, at times I also have a tendency to take the lead on things in our personal life, problem solve, and attempt to advise – all masculine attributes.

Though none of those things are really bad, when I am quick to do those things I take the opportunity away from him to do them himself.

Which is kind of stupid – I want him to do them for us, but sometimes I do it myself so quickly I don’t give him the chance.

As I reflected on why I might be doing these masculine aspects in our personal life despite the fact that it’s not what I truly want to be doing, I had a realization:

In order to run Jess LC, I need to make hundreds of masculine actions to make sure things run smoothly. It’s only me at the top of our very tiny company, and all customer service situations, contracts, purchases, finance, marketing, strategy, and design decisions fall to me. The buck stops with Jess. There is no one to look to besides my business coach whom I meet with once a month for counsel – and even then, I still need to make the decisions and actions myself.

What is even more interesting is that I often don’t like having to take all the really masculine initiatives, but I am forced to because I don’t have a company big enough to support another partner to take on those responsibilities.

So I am left alone to do all the masculine and feminine energy things in the small business. And surprisingly, as I have gotten better at some of the more analytical tasks, I have started to enjoy them.

But I think this approach to problem solving, directing, and leading has leaked a bit into my personal life by accident, out of habit.

I want to change this about myself.

I want to be able to contribute to our decision making, but in a more balanced way. And after thinking about it some more, I actually do personally want him to take the lead on most things. I want to be able to be my feminine self and not have to try to “fix” or “solve” any hiccups along the way. I want to be able to relax and not feel like I am in the drivers seat. So why do I tend to grab the wheel?

After making these connections, I am so thankful that I now have the awareness to evolve. I am now grateful that I have the chance to pursue my masculine side with Jess LC and grow the company with strategy, logic, and feminine intuition. And I am equally pleased that I don’t need to do the masculine aspects in my relationship.

I want to sit back and enjoy the ride at home as a contributing partner, but steer my business anywhere I please.

Though I will certainly won’t be a slouch as a girlfriend, I am way too intentional for that, it will be nice to relax a bit and trust him because I know he’ll do an amazing job.


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Jamie Lee

    I actually do this a lot in my relationship, which is funny because sometimes (maybe most of the time) I would probably prefer it if Peter were taking charge or at least sharing the charge. At the same time this is a quality that had definitely gotten me further ahead in the work force. People at work are always impressed with my ability to solve problems and make things happen. I think it’s a really hard thing to turn off (and sometimes even hard to notice that you’re doing it).

  2. Marguerite/@chicspace

    So…let me say I clearly haven’t read the book, and perhaps I should, but this post has brought up two opposing views for me:

    1. I have an issue with things being categorized as “female” or “male”, because I don’t like being put into a box. Growing up the daughter of an engineer, pushed into engineering, and now clawing my way up the ladder in a male-dominated project (giant rover, anyone?), I try to merge “female” and “male” tendencies into something that makes me a really good manager. But in the world I live, being “female” is bad, and I would say in much of the world, people generally believe this. So trying to maintain “femaleness” while not being branded only “female” is a challenge.

    2. (can you tell I’m an engineer :)?) I think this is a big issue in my relationship. I’ve been wondering why I’ve been bothered lately, and it’s because I’m playing both roles in ours, to the point of getting in a fight over who should put up my Christmas tree (it’s always a pain). But he’s not taking charge (I don’t want to call it lead because I don’t want to be “led”). So … thank you for making the reason for my frustration more clear.

    I really love your more introspective posts.

  3. Jess

    Jamie Lee, I totally hear you, lady! It is a great thing at work, and something that is hard to turn off after hours.

    Marguerite, thanks so much for your thoughts! Actually for #1, you hit the nail on the head! As I mention in the first part of the post, he did say that both men and women have been working on merging both energies to be most effective at work. So in doing so yourself in engineering is indeed, the best solution. And yes, I can imagine it is a challenge to let the balance be there at work without being seen by others as one or the other entirely. But overall, Deida totally agrees with you!

    As for 2, I can totally understand the frustration. It might be a good thing to talk about in the context of the book, if he’s open to reading it. : )

  4. Wow…you really articulate what I have been thinking lately. Figuring out what femininity is really all about, but not loosing my desire to work, stay ambitious and succeed. I have been referred to a lot as an alpha female, but I know that I am soft and compassionate on many levels. I am trying to work that into my life both relationally and professionally. It is hard, because I like to do and now that I am building JostWrite…I am all about analyzing and doing.

    I wrote a blogpost along this same line, but with a different emphasis. it is titled Concept:Immemorial Pearls and Lacy Thongs.
    Here is the link if you want to read it.

    Thank you yet again for a wonderful post.

  5. Sara

    Funny that you would post this, just because we’ve realized these issues are the basis of all of the problems in my current relationship, and so this whole idea has been plaguing my head for MONTHS now. I’ve talked to a lot of my friends about it, men and women, discussing how the roles play out and how we WANT them to play out. As women are becoming more and more self-sufficient, it’s only natural that our personal relationships are paying a price when we’re being “men” in all aspects of our lives. At the same time, is it really realistic to say we want, as my brother puts it, to be “dominating at work, but dominated at home”? It’s a very difficult thing to turn off, and yet it plays into gender roles much more than people tend to openly discuss, and is having a significant impact on our society as a whole. Some consider this to be the true effects of the feminist movement – not so much the changes our parents saw, but these drastic gender role changes that we’re witnessing as we grow into adults. There’s some great articles being written about it lately, I’m linking one here, but there’s many more where this came from.


  6. kelsey williams

    This is so interesting, Jess. I believe this is called submitting and I am currently working on a post about it for our marriage blog. It is a touchy subject and I am scared to publish it because of the reaction I may get from women who don’t agree. At the marriage retreat we went to last month they talked about how women will naturally take control when a man retreats…and we end up taking over and creating an unhealthy balance. How great that you have become aware of this. Thank you for sharing!

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