I would love to hear what other people think about what women need. There is a huge mountain of nonsense out there about what women allegedly want (a man with a list of certain attributes, usually). But what is it that a woman needs to become a mature, fulfilled woman - independent of family, partners and children? I ask that particular question not with any feminist intent, but to try and get to the very heart of this issue. After all, there have been, and will be, many mature, fulfilled women who never raised a family.

And before you stop reading because you have no interest in "mature" women, bear with me for just one more paragraph. Our culture is obsessed with youth and there is little value placed on maturity, especially in women. So let me rephrase - this is not about "mature" women, it is about how to become everything you've ever dreamed possible; how to love to beyond love,  how to triumph over fear and hurt, how to feel truly free; how to be the greatest daughter friend, lover, wife, mother, creator, discoverer, pioneer, leader; how have to the happiest and most joyful life you could dream of. That is the meaning of maturity in women, not what the media would have you believe. Being young in years is no barrier to maturity for women, and it is well known that most females mature much earlier than most males.

What, then, might be the path to wisdom and maturity for women? Here are a few of my thoughts, although I'm not certain how true they ring for actual women. I'm very willing to admit I am absolutely wrong on this topic! :P Apologies in advance.


1. The Discovery of Innermost Strength, The Birth of Courage

If there is one hallmark of a fully grown woman, it is her strength. It, without a doubt, a particularly feminine strength; unconquerable but not conquering; as strong as steel but never rigid. It radiates - people know a strong woman when they meet one - but it does not dominate, it welcomes.

From what I can tell, there is no set path to this strength. In some ways it is the natural birthright of girls that have been raised well; for others it seems that the trials of life as a young woman are enough to instill it. Ultimately, I suspect it is a matter of coming to believe in yourself - that you, your most tightly held self, will be fine, no matter what. That none of the brutality of the world can touch your inner core, that fronting up to your deepest anxieties, being hurt by them and surviving - that is trial one must go through to gain access to the strength that is the core of  true femininity, although it is trial that almost nobody will ever fail. It is the understanding that everything will work out, no matter what. It is the death of fear's previously iron grip upon you.

Without this knowledge, a woman can be destined to remain needy, dependent and fearful. It can cost her fulfilment of whatever role she wishes to play in life.

2. It is finding the eye of the storm.

Thanks to the cycle of hormones that exist in a woman, there is an unavoidable lesson to be had. And this is that life, and the universe is not controllable, that one is wrenched off balance, beset by problems that range from the inconvenient to the incapacitating; the world can change, and that no matter how much one wants, reasserting your normal self is not possible.

Whilst this is frequently more of a bloody inconvenience than a profound existential experience, it gives women insight that men lack initially - we are not in control of life, and that life's flows are not for fighting. The flip-side of this is learning to find your feet again. Matured women are grounded, centred. They have learned first to accept the storm... and then find their way to stand tall, beacons of safety in the eye of hurricane.

I can not say how to get there. But it seems to me that grounding comes from deep connection and understanding - to the natural world, to the people whom matter to a woman, to her family. To truly understand the value of the fundamental stuff of life is to become a woman not ruled by superficialities, appearance, weight, pointless trivialities and gossip. (Which is not to say that one doesn't enjoy indulging such things, just that their place is understood).

3. Understanding That the Order of Things is Inwards Out

If the masculine is about purpose that must stand alone at times, then the feminine is about connectedness. What matters here is realising that our ties to the world should not invade into ourselves, but that focus begins within and then spreads out.

It all starts from our purest core, and only then flows outward, seeking others.

This is the root of the nurturing and loving qualities that people have traditionally and mistakenly called the hallmarks of femininity. But it is really about the way that one connects to the world. Women who believe the world connects into them, presses against their boundaries have a need to try to control it - they manipulate, they connive, they scheme, they b*tch, they can not find tolerance and patience.

But the matured women connects from the inside, outwards. She starts with the love and strength that is in the core of life, and from there connects to the world. There is no need for bad behaviour. Instead she is a source of strength and love to family, friends and completely strangers - not by providing and tending to them, but simply from within herself.

4. The Phases of Fertility.

No woman is defined by her capacity (or lack of it) to be a mother alone, but it remains an indelible biological fact of womanhood, regardless of culture, and is burned deep into all life.

Whether or not a woman is remotely interested in bearing children does not change the fact that there is an in-built program designed around this. In the modern, emancipated world, the equivalent of men fulfilling their masculine archetypes is for a woman to reconcile the various stages of mating behaviour with her own wants, desires and values as a person. To realise the gap between fantasy, expectation, reality, values, beliefs and ones own life, and bring these into harmony.

The key is not to find a mate, be fertile and conceive, then raise and rear a family.

The key is to find harmony between those broad phases and what the person who is also a woman seeks. Knowing  and being comfortable with one's position in relation to this brings integrity, harmony and balance to a woman's life. Otherwise there is anxiety over boyfriends, husbands and biological clocks. And as with the male archetypes, how adequately a woman feels she fulfils any of these roles is vital to her sense of self-esteem and her maturity.

Girly girls: Some Thoughts on the Unhelpful Contraption That is Traditional "femininity".

I do not believe that traditional "girliness" is at all related to the true core of femininity. One can have none of that behaviour, and be possessed of pure feminine strength, grounding and wisdom. I do not mean to disparage "girliness" - it is as delightful and enlivening a part of culture as the  traditional  "manly" activities.  Neither of these are barriers to maturity, nor do they ever need to be put aside - they are the province of the mature as much as the immature. But just like allegedly grown men who are fixated on sport, beer and p0rn at the expense of life's more vital things, women without access to the proper meaning of womanhood are also bound to unhappiness and a lack of fulfilment.

I  think that these notions that femininity is about loving, caring, understanding, softness, gentleness and so forth are horribly destructive and limiting. And the perpetuation of these notions is very damaging to men, women and society alike. 

Strength, connectedness, centredness, the wisdom of womanhood - this is the real essence of femininity. Claiming it will set you free; loving it will raise up each and every one of us.


Ok,  you may now all kick my arse for be so presuming and pompous :D But thank you for reading it all! Seriously though, I would love to learn how women find their true maturity. All thoughts and comments will be most valued!
TheTardyDodo TheTardyDodo
31-35, M
27 Responses Jul 12, 2007

Your story brought tears and smiles...........thank you

You make valid points. I have heard these opinions expressed before, perhaps not so eloquently but the core is the same. <br />
Unfortunately, while modern society seeks the answers to that question, it simultaneously dimisses what Men want as unimportant or primitive. Women who achieve the strength you describe are usually more attuned to what the man in their life wants without resenting him for it. As a result, the Man in their life becomes keenly attuned to her wants and needs. Such women are usually happy in their marriage should they choose to wed. Men don't like girly-girls. Guys who haven't matured do. <br />
It's frustrating that no one writes such insightful and eloquent words to describe what Men want and need. I expect some bitter replies to this but before any of you do, consider this; if you have a son, would you want him to end up married to some bitter, insecure, resentful Woman whose main goal seems to be to make him miserable? Women hold the greater power in a relationship. The trouble is alot of them have never learned how to properly wield it. <br />
On another board, I posed the question, "what do men want?" The first reply was "Who gives a damn?"


I'm not disagreeing nor agreeing with this entry.<br />
But more, I'm taking to heart what you've shared.<br />
I, myself, am in the middle of trying to fix myself. Or rather, trying to find myself. Mature. And I want to thank you for writing this. It's inspiring....

In answer to your statement" I know What Women Need" - Freedom, I'd just like to say that freedom itself is overrated-usually by those with a deficiency in it.<br />
I'm a man who has lived a free life for over50 years. From childhood most of my interests and activities were guided by loving parents who maintained strict control over my non-existant social and work life. I was given complete freedom to work at becoming a scientist, as a result I spent the majority of my life studying the sciences and arts, becoming a quiz-kid at an early age, maintaining very high test scores and reeking potential. My only responsibility was to study and nothing else- no sports- no 9 to 5 jobs, no military, absolutely no driving an auto, no dating, no romantic or sexual intimacy.As a result I came to the university overqualified and arrogant. Then hit the reality of real life. I came of age in the early 70's during the "Days of Rage" and made a beeline, crippled with social and financial deficiencies, to alcohol and radicalism.. I became a belligerent, sarcastic, drunk celibate and turned my back on society and the "establishment'. I became an idealogical dropout from college and spent the next 20 years in free (but nonetheleless) maladjustment working only to take care of my then dying parents, doing widespread voluntarism and independent researches in my fields. Had an eventual breakdown and nearly died several times since- and at the same time flirting with suicidality.<br />
Well my last parent died in 2000 and even with an epiphany and freedom from the world at large, I was so<br />
happy, mature and well adjusted that I was waiting to die.<br />
I'd made my marks and prepared legacies for society.<br />
Over all these years the thing I wanted (and probably needed) was simply a good woman and stable relationship, a steady paying job and all the amenities of a normal life- the things most people take for granted or even say they despise.<br />
I personally have had so much freedom that I can hardly stand it now, but am probably destined to be a free spirit until my final day.<br />
Poor, eccentric and disgusted with my personal life and wanting simple, but ever-evasive order and normalcy.<br />
I guess that what I'm trying to say is that people (both men and women), have a basic core of needs that are similar- and it would seem they only tend to think they <br />
really want those things they don't already have.


I'm actually only 20 years old and you have described exactly what I want to be as a woman some day. I'm young and sometimes it's tough to be fearless but I like how important you make it seem. The "connectedness" that you describe is indeed important, but I do think men can have the "connectedness" too... but sometimes men get worried about being too "gay" (unmasculine) so therefore men and women often struggle with remaining in line with gender standards that are set by... culture and society!

Having read several books about women, communicating with them, understanding them, etc., I believe you're fairly well on target. The disappointing dichotomy is that there is tons of effort by numbers of men, expended on "understanding women" but most of what I read from women about understanding men is "they only think of one thing." From the group I post on called "I live in a sexless marriage", I can assure women the evidence thoroughly contradicts the above cliche. <br />
I have read books by Stephen Covey on interpersonal communication which goes beyond gender issues. The single most important advise he gives is "seek first to understand, then to be understood." This is profound. If you want someone to be understanding without understanding them first is like driving before you learn how to control a car. It's bound to end in disaster. <br />
Most of the confusion about husbands, boyfriends, etc. is phrased by women saying "I don't get him. Doesn't he understand what MY needs are?" "Why isn't HE more understanding?" <br />
Oddly enough, I was drawn to this thread because I had just finished watching the Mel Gibson film, "What Women Want." At first glance, this film seems to touch on the things men don't get about women. Some are accurate, but if you watch and listen closely, this film also demonstrates women showing open hostility, resentment and stereotypes of men. It shows womens glaring insecurities and poor judgment. It also shows how women will tolerate lots of bad behavior from men they date without showing how horribly willing they are to berate the man they marry which is why you'll never see a sequel to this film called "What Men Want." <br />
If you want to hear men get thoroughly trashed, find a hidden corner in a nail or beauty parlor and just listen. <br />
By no means do I suggest men should stop trying to understand women. I do suggest women reciprocate by using the advise offered. Seek first to understand...


i'll use these words somewhere,,,,,<br />

Aren't we just talking about self-actualisation here? I really didn't understand why so many vague notions and generalisations were expressed and made in the story. Useful as a way of provoking debate I guess, but long-winded and needlessly complicated in my opinion.

"t is about how to become everything you've ever dreamed possible; how to love to beyond love, how to triumph over fear and hurt, how to feel truly free; how to be the greatest daughter friend, lover, wife, mother, creator, discoverer, pioneer, leader;" well written dodo.....

I think the most beautiful people of either gender are the ones who are singularly confident and self-actualized--think of the Dalai Lama! People who realize that happiness comes from within, and that it is NOT something the world drops in your lap, are lovely. They don't tend to be disappointed or bitter, because they don't expect the world to work out their way in the first place--it's that inside-to-outside sort of connection. It's why girls are hot for cowboys (teehee)--you take a man who loves the work of his hands, who's in sync with the natural world, and who sometimes works hard just for the reward of work well done, and it's very, very attractive. Take a woman who is grounded in the same ways, and you encounter somebody incredibly beautiful of spirit. <br />
Either one, and you have a partner who'll adapt to a challenge instead of griping "What? You can't expect me to do that!".. who'll stand by your side instead of barking "Please! That's YOUR problem!".. <br />
Live with love and respect all life :) It seems the best way to help others find that same space inside them. And then we can all be better people, better parents, better partners, better tenants of this little rock we call home! :D

Good post.<br />
<br />
fallentower: Your ob<x>jection occurred to me as well; however it doesn't make the analysis of trends in healthy maturity, useless. This post isn't meant as a challenge to anyones individuality, and I don't find offense on needs being generalized.

Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn......ok, seriously now, I THINK I know what ONE woman needs...and that woman pretty much knows what this man needs. Most of the time. ;-) Beyond that, I really believe that generalizations of ANY type are dangerous at best, and offensive at worst. Kind of like reading your horoscope, and then quitting your job because it said "a big change is on the agenda for you today". Puh-leeze. If there's one thing I've learned about women the past 40 years, it's that (just like men) no two of them are exactly the same. Assuming that the next one you meet has ANYTHING in common with the last is a recipe for disaster.<br />
<br />
But I will say your thoughts are marvelously well organized, however misguided I think they may be. <br />
<br />
Doesn't anyone else here find it offensive that the needs and wants of a few billion individuals can be so glibly summed up in a few paragraphs?

*Eyes you suspiciously*<br />
Heeeeeeey....<br />
Did you steal someone's Owner's Manual that every woman spends a lot of her life trying to decipher?<br />
I just hope you haven't compromised the security of our agents in the field, buster.

Wow! I'm not usually at a loss for words, but...that was just.....Wow! That was thoughtful and eloquent. Huzzah!

Of course!! :) <br />
<br />
I'm actually very touched that you not only re-read it, but that you found you had a very different reading this time - I couldn't have asked for more, really!<br />
<br />
Also, respect to you for being so open minded, intellectually honest and frank. :)

Wonderfully put.


Well worth the read, thought provoking to say the least.

great read. my conclusion is -- most of it applies to men equally.

Constant's analysis is correct, I think, whereas both Cel and El (hee!) have grabbed the wrong end of the stick - your analyses strick me as being from the early feminist paradigm, rather than more recent evolutions. This story was never meant to be about the *overall* needs of women, and I have no idea where this notion of me worshiping or idolising them came from - the text is intended as, and written as, descriptive and qualitative. I am not a gender separatist - I believe that genders are *overlays* that exist over the top of a basic, universal and fundamentally human core. This was only ever meant to be an exploration of the elements of gender identity as it relates to female *cultural* identity, and its interplay with differing underlying biology. Obviously human needs are universal - love, security, connection, meaning. But so long as gender remains a dominant part of cultural and personal identity, and so long as gender is differentiated it is naive and unhelpful to suggest that there are no differences. Like it or not, the masses *insist* on responding to gender archetypes. The intent of this story is to try and explore how to accept this but to empower and facilitate wisdom, not gender conformity. It was about the path to maturity - it was never about "needs" per se, but needs in terms of prerequisites for fulfillment and maturity. My apologies for the mislead, but I believe the intention of the article is signposted well enough.

cel and i usually see eye to eye but ... *sighs* ... i went as far as to re-read it but am unable to locate anything in your article that made me feel subserviant, less than, confined or enslaved ... hmm ... i stand by what i said. however, i think your observations are more about the 'life' and 'life cycles' (phases) of a woman and what comes of each rather than what a woman "NEEDS" ... all women are different, thus their needs are different. it's a perception thing and i'm not talking about a 'list' of things either. i think at the core of women's "NEEDS" are the following; to love and be loved back (genuinely), to have a measure of respect from those she cares about, to be given enough freedom to exercise her freewill, etc. etc. i suspect those core "NEEDS" of women are the same for men and all humanity alike.

i could not have written it any better nor is there anything i believe needs added. i believe you've covered all bases. well done, birdie! just fantastical!

Men agonize over what women want and need because they believe that once they've figured that out they'll have what they require to get what they want from women (no mystery there). There's an old saying that goes, "A woman looks for one man to fulfill her every need, while a man looks for every woman to fulfill his one need." My advice to all my brothers is very simple. Stop thinking of women as if they were creatures from another planet. If you want to know what women need, think about what people need. Think of men and women as two different dialects of the same language.

You're either a Wonderful suck-up, or truely have tried to learn feminine manners! I must say, you pulled this piece off wonderfully! The part I absolutely LOVED was the simple statement of: A woman's strength does not dominate, it welcomes. The bottom line is, when we ALL learn to balance the masculine and feminine in us, we become more solid and complete: strength within, strength without. Mind, body, and soul become more fulfilled and the potential is endless! Kudos to your insight, sir!