I saw an article posted on Facebook the other day and I couldn’t help but click on a link. One of those headlines meant to draw you in, with the promise ‘12 Qualities That Mean You Should Never Let Her Go‘.. or something to that effect. A young woman I know had posted it with a message to her male friends – they should be paying attention, she said.

While I know she didn’t really mean it  as a passive-aggressive criticism, I sighed and clicked the link anyway.

I read about a woman who I want to be. I don’t really care that this woman they are describing is practically a super-hero and seemed far less pre-occupied with sex and self-indulgence than I am.

It’s not scientific, nor particularly egalitarian or even politically correct, but in this instruction guide for men, the writer states that if you think a woman is….

  1. Smarter than you
  2. Beautiful in your eyes
  3. Kind and nurturing
  4. Vivacious
  5. Loves you with all their heart
  6. Willing to make compromises
  7. Feels like home
  8. Is happy to tell you when you’re wrong
  9. Strong, but feminine (which aren’t opposites, anyway)
  10. Passionate
  11. Driven
  12. Means the world to you

… then  you should hang on to her.

This woman sounds like a good one, to me. The kind of woman I’d like to be, but I’m not sure I am yet. I’ve been trying to be a good woman, but that also means trying to decide what that is! I don’t think women are doing a great job of defining it for ourselves or the world.

I was momentarily confused as to what to do as I read the comments. This is a man writing to other men, to say ‘Here’s what a good woman is,’ and the world could use a few useful descriptions. But if we want to seen that way, we really ought to try to be that way. A woman isn’t born good anymore than a man is born bad, so we ought to be more interested in the ‘becoming’.

I’m disturbed that the response of women to that article wasn’t ‘Oh boy, how am I doing on that job description.’ I know I certainly did, so I don’t feel confident asking any man to see me that way unless I feel confident enough that’s who I actually am. Instead, women posted, commented and shared the link saying, ‘Yeah, that’s how you should see us!’.

Here’s the sticky truth: you can only really be seen as you are. Anything else is a myth.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we should sit around each morning chastising ourselves on our failings, neither men nor women need any further checklists or admonishment in that regard. However, we should at least be chastising ourselves on the right kind of attributes.

I’ve realised that what I think makes for a good woman isn’t what most men seem to be looking for. That’s not a criticism of men, by the way, because I’m not sure that we women have figured out what we think makes a good woman either. We’re the ones populating Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and the blog world with snapshot images of what we think perfection is, in a confusing, contradictory kind of way.

I might post photos of delicious home cooked meals, deep soul ponderings and my earnest efforts at the gym; but I also love to laze in bed on a weekend morning with unkempt hair and slight stubble on my legs. There’s a big part of me that would rather throw all that other stuff to one side and be simply declare good womanhood to require 20% laziness, 30% domestic skills and 50% sex goddess flagging any other kind of fiscal, social or emotional responsibilities.

A shallow glance still says a good woman falls into two stereotypes; the nurturing, homemaking, nice girl and the self-sufficient, comfortable in her sexuality career girl. Both come with dollops of sex and always just the right amount of sassy. I suspect that a good woman is in fact, closer to that 12 qualities list than Instagram can aptly communicate with one exception; a good woman apparently has her crap together. And fair enough, it’s a significant starting point.

Further to that, really – what’s the difference between being a good woman and being a good human? Not much I’d wager. Society spends a lot of time propagating mythology around gender stereotypes. It’s unhealthy and unnecessary. I’m much more interested in becoming a better me – in my instance, a better woman.

Swap out the pronouns in that 12 qualities list and it’s a pretty good indication of what a great man might be too. Seems like we could all just work on being better humans and appreciating each other more.

 *Image features the beautiful Dita Von Teese, reportedly shot in her own kitchen.