Monday, March 17, 2014

Kansas vs. the World

I am a proud product of the Midwest, more specifically, Kansas. It may be (touristically speaking) a pass-through state for most and the politics may be way too conservative for me, but it's where I was born and raised and it will always be home. Since I just returned from a visit there I thought it appropriate to share a refreshed perspective on my native Kansans.

I haven't lived there for 15 or so years and in that time have moved all over: from studying in London, living in the Southwest, Northwest, NYC, Pittsburgh, DC, blah blah blah, and now the South. I need not mention them all. I have discovered the good, the bad, and the ugly of all these places but it's also helped me to appreciate what it is about being a Kansan that makes me so unique.

Let's compare a Kansas woman to a North Carolina woman: if I go to the auto mechanic in Kansas they tell me what needs to be done, how they came up with the diagnostic, and what got it there. If I go to an auto mechanic in the South (i.e. NC) they ask to talk to my father. If I go to a meeting in Kansas I am just another of many women who have held positions of power (and my predecessors exceeded me plenty by becoming Supreme Court Justices, Governors, Congresswomen). If I go to a meeting in the South they think I'm there to take the minutes. Sigh. It might as well be 1942 here.

But the most glaring difference of all is the dating habits of women in Kansas vs. well, everywhere else. *Disclaimer*- I think most Midwestern girls can fit into this category too. Here in NC, for example, women are brought up to dream about marriage and babies and there seems to be no blinking when a 40-year-old man hits on an 18-year-old child. Ewww! Bleachhh. Yukkity yuk. They talk in circles, have a passive stance, and they love masculine men that will take care of them. The upside is that women are uber feminine and play the coquette very well. There seems to be no shortage of men sniffing at their heels. The downfall is it seems like there is only one goal and it must be achieved at all costs.

A Kansas woman is very different. We were brought up to be 100% self-reliant. We were expected to achieve goals, go to college, and take care of ourselves. Family was just going to fit in somewhere in that career. The good news is that I felt the equity between men and women, I had the confidence to achieve my goals, and I have an undeniably good work ethic. The downside is that marriage and family was sort of an after-thought that never got prioritized. And even though I love the masculine men they often feel in competition with a strong woman. 

So, what is a girl from Kansas to do? 

Determine What Type of Man You Would Like 
Do you like the masculine, leader type? Or do you like the passive, effeminate type? Everyone has their preference but I like masculine types only and tend to not respect passive types. Okay, so what is a good complement for a strong, masculine type? A soft, feminine woman.
Example: I have attracted men who skip with their toes pointed and men who could wrestle bears. Which have had the staying power? the latter of course! However if I'm always taking charge an exerting take-charge, masculine behavior, it's the *sigh* skippers I'll attract. 

Change Your Behavior 
What does a self-reliant woman do? She takes care of everything. But if there's a partner in your life he needs a role. He needs an EQUAL role, I should add. And if you like masculine men he's not going to be ordered into a role that you determine. So learn to accept help, show appreciation for gestures such as his holding the door for you, listen more and talk less, and cease competitive behavior.
Example: if I see everything as a competition then I will at best be one of the guys (and he will have 0% sexual interest in me) or at worst an annoying little pain that puts him off dating altogether. Either way with that behavior, I would end up alone. 

Learn to Love the Differences 
When I first heard (repeatedly) variations of the above statements, I got rather riled. Did this mean I was going to have to change into a ditzy child, pretending to be helpless? Um, no. It means that I made space for a partner. I appreciate and encourage a man who takes initiative, who has goals, who has independence himself. I also have a partner I support (and in turn get support from) and one whom I respect. Every relationship I have we have different roles but when you work as a team there's room for you both to grow and shine.
Example: Once I learned to look at the differences between healthy relationships, I could begin to see what the traits are of men that I'm looking for. And when I'm in a relationship and he has certain strengths, great! He can do that and I'll spend more time on other areas. You both don't have to be the leading expert in everything.

I think the key here is not that you have to change yourself but more be aware of how your actions impact others. What are you really saying when you have a competition about who knows more about Rugby tackle tactics (*sigh* yes, I've done that) and really, who the hell cares? Know the traits you seek and encourage them. Appreciate that your beau is going to be a partner and not someone you would emasculate. So that's my advice for a "Kansas" girl. Learn to accept some help, sit back and enjoy!

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