Monday, November 7, 2011

Female Compensation--but Not the Good Kind

Women often talk about men who have to compensate for certain shortcomings by being louder or more aggressive. If we see a man in an expensive sports car, for instance, many of us will nod and smirk at each other knowingly. It's one of those things that you're supposed to know, but you aren't supposed to tell anyone that you know.

I have not really heard much about women who behave this way, however. Why is that? Women have shortcomings too! We just don't usually run out and buy a bright red sports car to make ourselves feel better. Women are more subtle. We may buy bigger breasts, but I don't think that those come in neon colors.

Women have all been in situations where we felt less than adequate about ourselves. Moments that put us solidly back in the hallways of high school, when we learned that we were on the bottom of some random social ladder that we didn't even know existed. Nobody wants to be at the bottom of the social ladder; we may not want to be at the top, but we certainly do not want to be looking up at all the others who are higher up than we are.

We all want to belong. In our rush to fit into groups we may compensate. How we compensate varies from woman to woman.

There are women who compensate by hostage taking, cornering the unwary and monopolizing their time with questions and comments. If the victim moves to talk to others, the hostage-taker follows, insinuating themselves into any and all conversations the unlucky hostage may attempt. Some have even followed their hostage to the bathroom, which really is just pitiful. If you're lucky, there may be a window in the bathroom that allows escape. If not, you're stuck with an extra appendage for the evening.

There are the "One-Uppers". No matter what a woman says, they've done one better. If you've climbed Everest, they've skied it. If you've just had an appendectomy, they've performed an emergency tracheotomy--on themselves. With a dull kitchen knife and an eye dropper. One-uppers are obviously trying to make themselves seem more of what they think others want in order to fit in, but they end up just being annoying.

There are the "Anti-Social" types. These are the ones who show up at the party intent on demonstrating how much they don't care about fitting in. They park themselves next to the bar or in a corner and make snide comments under their breath as they glare at everyone. If approached, they will behave in such an irritating manner that they are soon alone again. They don't believe that anyone would willingly be nice to them, so they want to strike the first blow.

Finally, we have what my friend calls the "Chatty McChatsALot". These are women who are constantly talking. They seem to think that if they stop talking, someone will tell them to go away. They talk as if their very life depends on it. It is easy to please this person. on the one hand; all one need do is nod and occasionally a supportive murmur. On the other hand, if a person is wanting stimulating conversation, this woman is certainly not going to provide that.

I confess that I often feel that I do not fit into a group. I am socially awkward; I never know what to say or how to say it. I tend to be a wallflower at most social functions, even when I am the one hosting. I accept this about myself now, but it used to bother me to see so many women who seemed to be perfectly at ease, while I stood there gripping my drink. I know that I felt the need to compensate. I can recall being very chatty at parties, and on occasion I was a bit of a "One-Upper".

At some point, however, we have to stop trying to compensate for who we are, and just relax. Part of growing up is accepting yourself, social awkwardness and all. We do not have to be the perfect woman who fits seamlessly into every social situation. That version of the Brooklyn Bridge, we don't need to buy. Once a woman accepts herself, fits into her own skin, there's no need to fit in anywhere else.


  1. The social game is the hardest to master, and I'm pretty sure I will never master it. It's a good thing I'm not planning to try out for Survivor.

  2. Oh dear---I try so hard not to be any of these lovely ladies, but fear I have masqueraded as all of them (except the anti-social one...can't risk standing alone!)

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