I'm a little affronted. The surprise probably stems from the idea that my personal development really centers around developing many of these qualities, often speaking and thinking in the terms you use. Now, I'm a woman. I came onto the forums expecting a similar level of surprise that Steve would hold onto such primitive neo-Confucian conceptions of gender hierarchy. However, all I see is "embrace the polarity" posts and some schtick about how no men understand the "nature of women", and vice versa.
Are we really saying the #1 unique characteristic of being a man is "Making Real Decisions"? Really? Guess I'm stuck with making dinner again. Damn. I also always put my relationships second. To suggest women should do otherwise honestly leads me to conceive of your ideal world as one where men have special access to their private thought space whereas women, naturally, inherit the highest calling of nurturing "relationships". But some people enjoy being by themselves and not primarily prioritizing nurturing relationships, except within a strategic space or some other transactional space that is mutually advantageous to both parties. And many of these people are women. Calling such women "unnatural", or insisting that such women are not "real" women (in that they are not strongly associated with feminine energy) is not so much offensive as unreflective or inobservant. Or you've just been surrounded with low-conscious women, perhaps.
Trying to associate specific properties definitionally with normative terms (or quasi-normative, in this case -- "to be a 'man'" seems to imply aspiring to some virtuous state) involves committing the naturalistic fallacy
insofar as one's goals can be quantified. While goals like "Face your fears" are a bit nebulous, they'll still fall victim to the open question argument. I won't go into it for seeming too high-brow, but we can go if Plato or someone else is up for it.
I think that perhaps this narrative of polarity-based thinking is coming to rule the personal development sphere in this community too much. Why not take off the polarity-blinders and re-open yourself to a less dangerously exclusionary method of focus? There are ways to narrowly focus one's interests and relationships, limiting information intake and targeting to excel, without adopting a cult-like set of ontological foundations that oversimplify rather than sharpen our understanding of one another as members of a species.
That's the physicalist's perspective anyway, I suppose. Perhaps I have just already re-directed my sexual energy toward assertion of being, confidence, and persistence -- and I realize that Steve's writing this post about men doesn't necessitate that I should shy away from having these characteristics. But it sure implies that I, as a woman, should have loftier goals that are unrelated. The characterization of woman as the moral sex analogizes in a frightening way to the characterization of homosexuality as "too unnatural" for a family structure. Correlation does not equal causation, and Spartan's posts about socialization are well-taken by me. It's incredibly easy to socialize cultures in any number of similar ways. A cursory examination of American Indian or matriarchal cultures betrays the fact that there are cultures which both respect gender differences and yet leave open the possibility of personal development in terms of strength, communication, politicking, courage, and any number of additional gender-limited skill bases in this culture.
I'm not angry, just disappointed. I thought that the discussion and culling of ideas would be richer in this forum. But all I see are one-dimensional avatars of "male!", "female!", and "grr i'm sensitive too!" PC posts, along with "rawr i'm tough too!" posts. For all your collective focus on growth, one would think this sort of thinking would have been transcended by now. I can't help but think there might be other healthy, productive, growing women reading this post who might be turned off personal development by attitudes like this.
Never thought you'd latch onto Randian gender ideals so strongly, Steve. The distinctions between male and female in Atlas Shrugged
are so crude and burlesque, I thought they'd really be more laughed at than taken seriously. And this comes from someone who highly respects Rand's work... but sees it as seriously flawed in ways. Sorority girls shouldn't be the standard for female identification, folks. We don't all watch chick flicks and read Danielle Steel. It just seems that the majority of women who might have agreed with me have wisely taken their reading eyes elsewhere.
I mean this to be a thoughtful critique, which, while disrespectful at some points, is pointedly so, where I think the post and reaction to it are most lacking. Steve and Erin are worthwhile compatriots in the realm of personal development, and I hope this will inspire future reasoned disagreement with both me and Steve.