More thoughts as a follow up to yesterday's musings. The problem with a lot of stereotypically female traits is that they tend to be disabling -- traits like meekness or timidity or excessive emotionalism. Those are the types of traits that I would not be ashamed of necessarily, but that I would try to change. (Of course, there are also stereotypically feminine traits like empathy and compassion which I view as strengths.)
When I was growing up, I was painfully shy. I was also easily frightened by bullies. I don't know if I had those traits because of my sex or my socialization or just the personality I happened to be born with. I do know that these were aspects of myself that I was determined to overcome. At school, I would set mini-goals for myself like, "Today I will talk to three boys" or "Today I will initiate a conversation with someone I don't know." I also made a pact with myself that I would stand up for myself in some fashion whenever I was bullied or treated disrespectfully-- no matter how stupid I might look or what the consequences might be. There were times when I overreacted to bullying or said the wrong thing or said something foolish, but I tried to force myself to always respond in some way. Over time, and with practice, I learned to handle confrontation very effectively, probably better than most people in fact.
I am happy to report that no one who knows me today would ever in a million years suspect that I was once a shy kid. I am also happy to report that I have not (at least not since my first year of law practice) ever allowed myself to be bullied. Over the past seven years, I have successfully maintained my policy of not taking crap-- not from bosses, not from judges, not from opposing counsel, not from my dad, not from anyone. I think I handle adversarial situations and confrontation as effectively as my male colleagues. So am I inherently an outgoing, assertive person? Not really -- but I have learned those skills because I recognized my timidity and shyness as problems to be overcome.