A subject line caught my attention during an unsuccessful attempt to clean up my inbox a few weeks ago. It read: “Shut Up & Look Pretty: Why Are Women Playing Dumb to Get Ahead?”

The email stated that’s what women think men want in their leading lady, still “playing dumb to get the guy” despite years of power protests.

I thought that was rather silly – just more clickbait from the endless depths of the internet.

In truth, some of the smartest, strongest, and most inspirational people I know are women. Not only are they just as capable, if not more, than us men, they are able to do what we do in a way that’s still personal and compassionate. To be completely honest, being in the presence of powerful, independent women is downright intimating.

But it’s beautiful at the same time.

Take the women featured in this issue, for example. They vary greatly in age, background and profession, yet they are all similar in that they are driven by passion. Passion is a force that overcomes adversity and inspires others. These women took matters in their own hands, breaking down barriers and silencing naysayers in pursuit of doing what they love, paving the way for others to follow in their footsteps – not in taking the same road, but forging their own paths.

We men are lucky to be graced by the presence of such women because they can impact us like no others can. They motivate us to be better people – to become closer to the men they believe we are capable of being.

It’s hard to believe that labels such as “masculine” and “feminine” are still around today because both sides should be embraced and the dividing line erased. But if they are to continue to exist, let’s encourage everyone to adopt them both.

As children, it was commonly taught that being strong, courageous, independent and assertive are “manly” traits, while being empathetic, sensitive, caring and vulnerable are “womanly” characteristics.

The reality is all women are strong, courageous, independent and assertive, in addition to being empathetic, sensitive, caring and vulnerable. The men who fail to embrace the other side are the ones behind the curve because they’re depriving themselves of the opportunity to become well-rounded individuals.

If being sincere, kind, giving, expressive and emotional are considered feminine, then we men should strive to be more like the women in our lives.

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