This morning, I want you to think of a woman you admire. What do you consider her greatest strength?
Now think of a man you admire. What do you consider his greatest strength?
I’m asking this pair of questions to explore a hypothesis that took shape late one night while re-visiting your responses to my prompt “What are you secretly good at?” I want to be careful about how I write this next observation so as not to diminish or undermine the legitimate achievements and talents shared, but I couldn’t help but note that most of us (myself included) offered up socio-emotional strengths like listening, caring for others, resolving conflicts, and gift-giving. The density of responses in this category struck me. A fleet of possible explanations skittered through my mind, the first being that the phenomenon did not surprise me because so many of the Magpies in this community have proven themselves to be unbelievably empathetic women of substance over the course of writing this blog. But it also occurred to me that the majority of our strengths fall in line with the gender norm of women as nurturers. Do we feel more comfortable tooting our own horns if those skills are traditionally associated with our gender? Are we uncomfortable with or blind to some of our more technical and professional strengths? Do we shrink ourselves (to borrow language from a recent interview with a Magpie Woman of Substance) in certain areas so as not to appear strident or unbecoming?
I asked the two questions at the outset of this post because it occurred to me that maybe it is easier to flaunt the technical/professional talents of other women instead of ourselves — and maybe it is easier to identify and applaud those types of strengths in men, full-stop. I was probably too inside my own head and my own thinking on this subject to yield a hyper-accurate result, but I drew up a list of men and women I admired and I have to say that I was surprised to find many of the same strengths appeared in both columns. For example, both my father and RBG had “civil but steely determination” and “astounding intellect” listed among their chief strengths. And I found it easy to list out the technical skills of the women on my list, though perhaps that was because I found myself principally listing female authors who I know through the gift of their artwork. (Mindy Kaling: “ebullient, multivalent creativity that mixes high and low, convention with originality, etc”.) My mom was a notable exception: “purity of heart and intention” and “willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt” were at the top of her long litany of saint-like strengths.
At any rate, I’m not sure my “test” proved or disproved anything, but it has certainly seeded interesting food for thought. For example, how often do I celebrate physical skills in my daughter? Do I do it more or less than I might with my son? More generally, how often do I take the time to let a friend know when she is good at something?
What did you think of this prompt? Any insights from this foggy chain of musings?
(And, if you are willing to share, what is something outside of the socio-emotional category that you are secretly good at?)
Post-Scripts: Fall/Winter Accessories.
We’ve covered chic handbags, footwear, and statement outerwear for fall/winter 2020, but what about the little accessories that take an outfit to the next level? Below, my favorite accessories for the season…
THIS DRAMATIC RIKA SCARF (SEEN IN STREET STYLE PHOTO ABOVE)
J’ADORE THESE QUILTED LEATHER GLOVES (CHANEL VIBES)
SNAKESKIN LEATHER POUCH TO KEEP ALL YOUR ESSENTIALS IN ONE PLACE IN YOUR PURSE
LEATHER KEY CHAIN (I OWN IN THE BLUSH – YOU CAN HAVE YOUR INITIALS MONOGRAMMED ON IT!)
IF YOU ARE A MOM, YOU MUST BUY A PAIR OF THESE 7AM ENFANT STROLLER MITTS (ON SALE FOR ONLY $20 IN THE GRAY)
HOUNDSTOOTH FACE MASK (COMES WITH CHAIN ATTACHED!)
P.P.S. Everyday makeup and skincare.