~ By Helen Andelin,
QUESTION: Ever since reading Fascinating Womanhood, I have wanted to write you. Sorry, but your theory is full of holes. I speak from experience. I am definitely feminine. I love laces, frills, and pastel colors. I dress in a feminine style. I have a feminine figure. I have no mannerisms like the opposite sex. I don’t do things that are usually associated with masculine work, such as repairing cars, electrical appliances and carpentry. They are all Greek to me. According to your theory, these feminine characteristics should be attractive to men. They should make men feel more manly and protective of women.
How is it I have never encountered this attitude in men? When I didn’t know what kind of tires I had on my car, the repair man looked down his nose and treated me like dirt. When I accidentally cut the air conditioning wires while cutting the weeds around it, the repair man wanted to know how I could be so dumb. When I didn’t know that the muffler on my car needed to be repaired, a nearby man was as disrespectful as could be. Men have always looked down their noses at me. They act like I have no right to be alive. How do you explain this? I have more common sense than most men.
Yes, I believe in the roles of men and women. Not that I will ever get the chance to put those beliefs into practice. There isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t rather burn in hell than be married to me. Men will not treat you with courtesy and respect just because you are feminine.
COMMENT: Femininity is much more than how you dress or even your mannerisms. It touches on your entire way of life. Perhaps you have weaknesses or attitudes you are not aware of. You may be pushy, dominating, or aggressive. You may have grown to be suspicious of men—they can feel it. Sometimes these lacks are difficult for women to see in themselves. A good way to find out is to ask someone you trust to evaluate your femininity, such as a minister or a trusted friend. Regardless of what you say, femininity alone does not awaken a man’s protective qualities. Here is a paragraph from a letter I received the same time as yours, from a single girl who is devotedly living Fascinating Womanhood:
“My friends ask me what my secret is. Why do men to out of their way to help me? Why do men act so protective of me when there are other women present? Why do men wait for me, or seek me out at parties just to talk to me? Why are men affectionate to me when they are not the affectionate type?”
Perhaps this woman truly likes men and has learned that charm, character along with femininity is more important than focusing only on looking like a fascinating woman.