It’s a movie starring Peter Sellers,
A board game and radio contest,
The 7th album released by rapper Ludacris,
An exhibition tennis match in 1973,
Endless material for late night talk shows,
An MTV reality show, and
A culture war:
The Battle of the Sexes.
Whether in jest or in seriousness, it seems to me that women and men are constantly trying to one up each other. It’s not enough to be equal; we have to be better than men: smarter, stronger, better at using than being used, more in touch with our feelings, more closed off to letting anything hurt us, more successful in our careers…more, more, more.
As the song from Annie Get Your Gun says, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”
Personally, I’ve found that a little competition can be healthy; it drives me to push further, try harder and endure longer. But if I take my competitive spirit to an extreme, especially in a relationship, it can be grating, hurtful and exhausting; if I'm not careful, I can cause distance between those closest to me. Although I want to be a strong, successful woman, I've learned that I need to reevaluate what that really means for me.
My strength as a woman doesn’t come from always winning, from boasting of my superiority, reminding my husband of his flaws, or insisting that I don’t need anyone or anything. I am strongest when I can acknowledge when I’m wrong, to say “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”, to ask for help, or admit that I don’t have all the answers. My strength also comes from those moments when I choose to forgive, no matter how deep the wound. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or allowing ourselves to stay in an abusive situation. But in order for there to be real resolution, healing, and hope for long-term relational success, we will need to learn the art of giving and receiving forgiveness. It is a process, but one that will be essential to cultivating a strong relationship.
So in this battle of the sexes, perhaps we need to be the first ones to put down our weapons.
Each of us women have areas where we excel and areas that are a constant struggle. So do the men in our lives. Hopefully, those areas are different! While these differences will cause tension, it will also bring balance to both you as an individual and to the relationship.
As a woman, you are beautifully made, incredibly complex (in a good way!), and intrinsically valuable. Being a woman is amazing and, despite all the data about double standards and unequal pay, our opportunities abound in this country and in this time. As we learn to fully embrace our femininity, to enjoy it, and help society protect and appreciate it, let us not sacrifice manhood in its place. Appreciation of one does not mean destruction of the other.
Make a point this week to affirm the men in your life–father, brother, friend, boyfriend, husband–in their uniqueness, in the things that make them uniquely different from you. Not better, nor worse, but a complement to who we are as women. I have found that when they are able to be all that they were made to be as good men, it is then that we are free to be everything it means to be a good woman.
Photo via flickr user mexindian
Based out of Los Angeles, Joanna Hyatt speaks and writes on dating, relationships, and sex. She blogs at