Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Who am I?

It has been mentioned by some commenters on previous posts that I talk a lot of common sense. I take that as a compliment because it infers that I have an open mind on most things in life. I do think of myself as being able to identify the most straight forward and logical way of looking at different situations.

My mother was a practical woman, she was able to turn negatives into positives, whatever life threw at her, her coping mechanism kicked in. Although she was feminine she was a strong woman. Perhaps I have a little bit of her personality in me. On the other hand my father was a man's man, drinking with the lads, working to bring home the bread, and only being involved with the child rearing when it suited him, which wasn't very often. There is a little bit of him in me as well.

Putting that aside for a minute, I believe there is another reason I am like I am, my brain is wired up differently. A few years ago I did an Introduction To Psychology course, free at college I might add, and there was a particular light bulb moment which hit me between the eyes. I listened very intently to what the teacher was telling us, and thought, blimey, she is talking about me. I was gobsmacked, I didn't know there was a word for it.

My brain has been puzzling me for some time, why does it work in the way that it does? Does everyone think like me? How come I get it and other people don't? It can't be because I am clever because I got away with the minimum of education, and couldn't get out of the school gates fast enough. Yet I know enough to get by in life, that's what puzzles me.

OK, so now I am going round in circles, but that's what I do. My brain goes off in all directions. I ponder a lot, I contemplate a lot, I look for the meaning of life a lot, there has to be a meaning, that's why we are here. Looking inside ones head is the most satisfying past time I have, that's why I spend so much time alone. To put together all the little jigsaw pieces of ones mind and end up with a complete picture, leads to a greater understanding and contentment within oneself.

So what was the word that the teacher used which opened up a whole new train of thought? Androgyny. Now I am going to borrow a bit from Wikipedia, you can look at the whole article if you wish. 'Androgynous traits are those that have no gender value or have some aspects generally attributed to the opposite sex.' 'No gender value,' what does that mean? The way I see it is that both physically and mentally some are born male and some are born female, and some are born as both. My working with men for a great many years may have contributed to the way I think like a man, but the trait must have always been there for me to take that career path in the first place.

Another quote. Sandra Bem 1977 says this, 'The androgynous individual is simply a female or male who has a high degree of both feminine (expressive), and masculine (instrumental) traits.' This explains why I could haul a 40 ton truck around, and break down in tears at the side of the road. At times I admit I did struggle with my identity, I often felt that I was straight down the middle.

On the brighter side, it seems my androgyny is not a bad thing. There have been a lot of tests conducted on the benefits. According to Sandra Bem we are more flexible and more healthier than either masculine or feminine individuals.

Also, (quote from Suite 101), 'The resilience of androgynous individuals helps them to deal with social pressures. They do not adhere to the same standards that gender typed individuals do. As a result they exhibit higher levels of self esteem and psychological well being.'

I didn't always have high self esteem, it grew with me once I realised that I could control the path of my life. It used to gall me when people said I was taking the job off a man. I would retaliate with fury, and a few choice words. It isn't a mans job it is anyone's job. I was bloody resilient alright. Then I would go home and cry, in private.

Discovering my identity has taught me a lot. Whatever questions you have about your life, the answers are all there inside you, if you look. It took that one word prompt from the teacher to make me explore more, and I'm pleased that I did. Question yourself but look for the answers inside your own head, and I deliberately say head and not heart, because that's how a man thinks.


  1. Never been a girly girl myself. I followed my Dad into the Royal Navy..did some really 'tough' stuff,but still cried at the thought of a homeless cat etc. I haul wood, chop logs, drive a tractor,but still want pink toe nails. It's just varying degrees of the gender traits, and I'm glad we are all different.
    Jane x

  2. Yes, interesting post. I am one of the relatively few people where i live who cut the grass trim the bushes wash the car and paint the house. The other married women in the neighbourhood consider these tasks mens work and they will demean themselves doing them. I love being the way I am as I feel I can tackle anything - AND I like pink toenails - in fact I am just off to have them done (my bi -annual luxury) the color, in fact, will be DimSum Plum.

  3. Doh and there's me thinking you were "Wonderwoman" or should that be "wonderperson" LOL

    The thing I like about you most Ilona, is your uniqueness. Never change.

    Blimey if I waited for my husband to do all the "mens jobs" I'd have a very long wait LOL
    (just taking a break from loppering the hedge).

  4. You hit the nail on the head there! I always felt I disappointed my mother because I was tall and a bit galumping, climbing trees, digging bits of pottery stuff out of the soil, going to museums and graveyards to explore history, reading a lot. I didn't go to ballet like my mum's friend's daughter, didn't wear ribbons - I wore glasses. Yet, I always had boyfriends (stayed out late a lot - oops) and after I had children, we became very good pals. But even then, she didn't understand me because I wasn't the typical girl she expected all those years ago. Heigh-ho - my daughter is a carbon copy of ME! and I love her because she is different and a bit independent - she'll do fine. PS - she and I do the painting in this house - my OH and 2 sons would rather not...

  5. I entered what was a woman's profession in the early 1960's nursing. I finished school than did what was unthinkable and joined a medical outreach that worked in some of the poorest countries in th world. I returned to the states
    to care for my parents until the times of their
    deaths. I have always followed a voice within.
    I am now retired duse to bone cancer. I still
    follow the voice with in and find serenity in
    solitude and in doing what I can in my circustances to reach out to others in need.
    What you have written makes perfect sense to me.

  6. What a great post (again). Couple of things - the living in your own head and having a particular liking for your own company may be more to do with the way you process things in your head and also just, clearly you are interesting, why wouldn't you want to spend time with yourself? Makes sense to me. You might be interested in your Myers Briggs score if you haven't looked into it before (link here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator). You can do the tests most everywhere online and they are fairly accurate. I love it as I really helps me to make sense of the way I process information and think and be.

    Re androgyny - yes, possibly. I think the combination of your personality, your upbringing and your life experiences have just meant that you looked at society and thought - the way that roles are supposed to be constructed via gender makes no sense to me, it is illogical and it doesn't fit what I really most want to do with my life and be so I am going to do something else. As other posters above, I think it is indicative of a curious, furious, intelligent, spirited and brave mind and for that, thank you! I love reading your blog, there is something very life affirming about it.

  7. I have a similar outlook, Ilona and so does my daughter. We're always the ones fixing things, painting walls, shopping for new cars etc. My girly older sister was always mystified by me but I have a great relationship with my older brother.

  8. I have been following your blog for a couple years now. I actually found it by typing into the google bar 'I have too much stuff' LOL! Like you, I was sick of all work and no time for fun/home. I really wanted to downsize and spend more time doing the things I enjoy. You even gave me the idea to have my gas turned off. (My water runs on electric.) Not only did I cut out a very BIG expense, but I managed just fine during two winters with a space heater. I also invested in an electric blanket. My light bill actualy isn't much more than it was before. I've also adopted many of your common sense tips. I'm not quite where I need to be, but I'm a lot less stressed out. So here is long due thanks for your blog, great ideas, and just for being you.
    On the subject of your brain being 'wired up' different. I've often thought that of myself. I'm just me too. I love my make up and hot rollers, but you will never catch me watching the 'Lifetime' channel. I like action flicks, taking charge of my own affairs, and lots of things attributed as masculine. My favorite parts of your blog are going along with you on your travels. I also like hearing about your animal friends and lately the cute smiley face meals. I wish I could see some of your television programs, but I live in the states.
    Thanks again for this blog and know that you've probably helped tons of people that mainly 'lurk' on websites like I do. Have a great day! :)
    Cat from KCMO

  9. I have always been a tomboy and yet I like to be feminine. Went camping this weekend at York Racecourse on a cycling show weekend. Hardly washed all weekend but when we went out on Saturday for an Indian meal with my friends as a treat, I had a quick scrub up, wore my nice light turquoise cycling jacket and my glam gold leather bum bag. Like to have a bit of style when cycling!

    I decorate, do the garden, and fixed my bike yesterday (got oil all down my T shirt).

    Love my own company as well as meeting friends. Just like to be different from the norm.

  10. Great post, food for thought. I'm 100% girly, like pink, collect dolls (I'm 43!!) etc but my hubby has a very strong feminine side. He's completely straight but very sensitive and enjoys shopping (I hate it), present buying and wrapping (I hate this too) and is useless at diy or any 'male' pastimes. He has no interest in gadgets, gaming etc etc. My son is just like him, which is making growing up challenging but he looks set to be a wonderful, unique person like his dad :0) I believe everyone is a mix of male/female with some people being more one way than the other. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.

  11. Great post Ilona, I think I'm wired a bit differently in some respects and often feel I don't fit. The school gate Mums at our school chat about X Factor - never watched it, hair straighteners - I'm curly and proud and general girly stuff. I prefer to chat with the Dads about allotments. I sometimes wonder if it's because I grew up with 2 sisters, my Dad never wanted a son but didn't treat us like girly girls. We were taught how to change our own car wheels, check the oil etc and our Mum showed us how to look after our finances, so we'd never be dependent on blokes.
    I think me and Mr Twigs complement each other these days, I dig the allotment but then he'll make the dinner - yay !!
    Twiggy x

  12. Picture two Bell Curves. They almost overlap with the two high points just an inch apart. On the left are men and on the right are women. The far left and the lowest part has the macho men...very few. At the top of the left bell curve are the men who have traits that are less Macho and yet not girly. On the right bell curve at the far right are the barbies, and extreme women who just care for their nails and looks above all...extremely "feminine." At the top of the right bell curve are the women who have balanced traits. The men and women at the top of the two separate bell curves are more similar than the women at the top are with women on the far right...the few ultra feminine (with help of makeup and helplessness). The men at the top of the bell curve have more in common with the women at the top of their respective bells curve than they do with the macho-tattooed, no-crying men at the lower left of the male bell curve.

    Anyone understand that?

    Men and women (aside from anatomy) that are a balance of traits are more alike than different.

    Yes, I studied this stuff but usually can draw the bell curve to illustrate. So, women's traits and men's traits in a balanced individual are often sooo similar.

    If anything was ever fixed in our house, I did it. If I needed more strength, height, or heft, I stood very close and instructed my husband how to do it. If I left, he screwed it up!

    I get dirty and sweaty when I need to but cry if I hurt myself doing something. I also clean up and wear very feminine clothing when the occassion calls for it. Sometimes this mix offends both men and women. Sometimes they wonder aloud if I am a lesbian, which in my case is not true.

    Only lesbians work with tools, plan, and draw designs for the bird houses they make? HA! So, I guess men who cook dinner are gay? People are just so stupid at times.

    I have a friend who does all the home repair and installation of cabinets and ceilings in her home. She is very tiny and feminine. So, I see nothing incongruous about supposedly ill-defined traits of masculinity and femininity in one person.

    People are different and complement each other in a relationship or friendship. That does not mean one person being only "feminine acting" and the other only "male acting." If a man can cook better than I or just wants to, he can. But, if I am better at figuring how to accomplish something that involves mechanics, I will either do it or tell him how. Honestly, it takes all kinds. So driving a truck and crying all seem really normal for a woman.

    Gender is a social construction!

    There are only two jobs that are gender specific--wet nurse and sperm donor.

  13. That fits both myself and my husband LOL.He is the one who wants to take the girls dress shopping or sit and talk about girly stuff.(Snore)
    I am much happier dismantling a computer or digging in the garden. My daughter is much more girly than me ,liking make up and clothes and my son is much more masculine than my husband so it doesn't always carry on down the line.

  14. Just goes to show that we all could be total individuals with specific traits that just define who we truely are. All this male and female role nonsense has screwed up most people`s own perseption on how things could be. If you have the skills and knowhow to perform a task, just go for it. I don`t think there are rules to make us conform to the so called 'norm', Whatever that might be. I`m all for individualism. It adds to the spice of life!
    Ilona, you are just fine as you are!!

  15. Hi Practical Parsimony, I fully understand what you are saying, very eloquently put. I think one of the reasons I have ended up without a partner is that I have always been around macho men who have not treated me as an equal. I want a man who is equal to me, who will do his share of cooking washing and cleaning, who will cry at soppy films, and who is kind and loves animals. I thought I was maybe asking too much,
    so I made do with what I had. But none of them were the right person to get hitched up with. All except one maybe, and he was not free.

  16. Lovely to see so many interesting and informative comments, I see I have many androgenous friends here. Hello Cat KCMO from The States, glad you have revealed yourself, you're most welcome.


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