Our language has words and phrases that hold different meanings depending on whether they apply to a female or a male.
One of these is the word, "common." When applied to a male, as in "a common man," it means "ordinary." We speak of how things may affect the common, the ordinary, man.
However, when a woman is called common, it means "vulgar." One hears the degrading tone in the spoken word: "Oh, she's so common." referring to her dress, her language or her activities.
A "man's man" is the ultimate male fantasy. He is strong, tall, rugged, in charge, invincible and larger than life etc. etc. While we have all heard and understand what a man's man is, there has been no such term as a woman's woman, but we think that there should be.
Perhaps the main reason it took so long for us to identify with our own gender is that we have not built any tradition. Women have so long been defined by men that the major accolade for a woman would be that she is a "man's woman." We are allowed, even encouraged, to be sexy and decorative but our accomplishments, even as homemaker, are devalued. We are given a choice of only two roles in life: that of perfect wife/mother -- or whore! Well wake up, Mr. Charlie! We women and "the times, they are a changing."
We believe that Diana Frances Spencer was a Woman's Woman. She resonated across the generations, the genders and our social strata. She especially resonated and reflected, at least a part of, all women's lives. We all were promised the storybook "happy ever after" when "someday our prince would come." We all were shown how little our culture values us, while claiming family values. We all got the message early on that our youth and beauty were accepted -- and ephemeral. So, along with Diana, many of us woke up to the deception of the princely kiss and, like her, we swam against the tide in our search for our own woman-identity.
Far from following one of our culture's prescribed roles assigned to womankind, Diana, Princess of Wales, used the few short years she was given to DEFINE HERSELF. Her efforts on behalf of the young and the sick, as well as her fight against land mines is legend. The small minded, talking-heads of the media, angry at all the heartfelt attention given to a mere woman, are punishing her and us by claiming that "she lived a life of contradictions."
Don't we all?
Diana was a destroyer of the myths that have long ensnared and restricted women, such as: gender-role-assignment for life; the dumb blonde; the useless parasite; poor little rich girl; the decorative possession, among many others.
She embodied the line from Kipling's poem IF: "...Or walk with Kings -- nor lose the common touch ..."
She was a WOMAN, who set a whole monarchy on its ear with love; and raised the social conscience of a world.
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M
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