Author Archives: mutedgrey

Being INTJ and Female: How I go against everything women are supposed to be and why I don’t care (hint: gender stereotypes)

I thought it only suitable that I tie-in my previous INTJ post with a topic I will likely touch on frequently: sexism.

Being a female INTJ is at odds with quite a lot of gender stereotypes. If I do a quick search on Google for “feminine traits” or “woman traits” the following words and ideas come up:

Traits viewed as stereotypically female

Traits viewed as stereotypically female

Compare that to the kinds of words that are used to describe men on the same sites:

Traits viewed as stereotypically male

Traits viewed as stereotypically male

In turn, compare both of those to this a list of adjectives used to describe an INTJ personality type:

Characteristics of an INTJ

Characteristics of an INTJ

None of these are exhaustive nor are they intended to be, but you can quickly see that an INTJ personality overlaps quite a lot with stereotypically categorized “masculine” traits. A woman that exhibits many characteristics that are widely believed and taught in society to be traits men should have and/or few of the traits women are supposed to have encounter quite a lot of backlash.

A woman who is very logical and reserved is seen as stiff and cold where a man with the same traits will often not be described the same way. The problem only increases the more “masculine” traits she has and the stronger those traits are. Being an assertive go-getter would lead to a brilliant career for men but in a woman it grants her the lovely opportunity of being called a bitch.

It suffices to say that not all of these traits listed are positive (e.g. stubborn, lack of appreciation) so of course I would run into problems with those, regardless of my gender. (Though it can still be an issue related to gender, that’s a post for another day.) Where it is problematic is where I embody all of those traits that are neither positive nor negative (e.g. analytical, leadership) but happen to be more stereotypically masculine. If you recall my previous explanation of the MBTI or know anything about it, my preferences for each of the four qualities is fairly strong and my overall identification as an INTJ is also strong. I’m not just independent or reserved, I am very independent and very reserved. It means I grew up having a personality nearly the complete and utter opposite to what society, my culture, even my family was telling me I should be as a woman.

For a time I admit I tried being someone else, doing all the things that other girls did – or rather, at the time what I thought they did – to try to become the woman I thought I was supposed to be. That didn’t last very long. I just couldn’t do it. Little did I know at the time that was just the beginning to a lasting struggle to own who I really was while also striving to improve as a person and live my daily life against others’ expectations.

It’s a road I’ve only in recent years even fully realized I had been on, both due to the lack of self-awareness and recognition of sexism as well as requiring some time and distance to properly look back and reflect on things. I’ve always known I was a little different from society’s expectation of me as a woman but I hadn’t completely identified why until I started learning about feminism and I’m still learning.

On one hand, I haven’t really known how to be anything else. I simply am who I am, woman and INTJ and stereotypically “masculine” traits and all. On the other hand, I take pride in rejecting gender norms and defining my womanhood to include anything and everything about me; my personhood and womanhood are one and the same. I am not a person with “feminine” and “masculine” traits but rather a woman and person with a variety of traits that may or may not be shared by other people.

I chose my initial focus on being an INTJ as a springboard because it works twofold; it allows people to get a very quick but in-depth picture of my personality and it establishes the beginning of my journey to questioning everything and therefore all the things that I will end up discussing here.

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INTJ Briefly Explained

Since I make reference to being an INTJ in my blog’s subtitle, allow me first to briefly explain what INTJ means, where it comes from, and why I identify with it so well.

There are many tests and assessments built in the field of psychology with one purpose: measuring, identifying, and categorizing personality. If you think for a moment about the depth of your own personality – so many traits, so many factors to consider on what makes you who you are or determine what choices you make – it is easy to see why attempting to measure personality is no easy task. That said, in my limited experience with personality assessments, I feel as though the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) does a fairly successful and accurate job, all things considered. It’s not perfect, of course, but no assessment ever can be.

 The MBTI is set up to determine where you stand across four qualities, which combine to create a possibility of sixteen personality types. The four qualities can be thought of like a sliding scale. For instance, Introversion and Extroversion are the first quality, with extreme 100% Introversion on one end and extreme 100% Extroversion on the other end.

The values are a dichotomy and you can not only fall anywhere between the two ends but your placement can vary day to day or in a different context.

A person falls somewhere between and most people will fall more towards the middle, even if they tend to err on one side of the center, towards introversion or extroversion.

More information about the MBTI and the sixteen personality types abound on the internet. It’s a popular personality test, and for good reason. INTJ stands for Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Judging. Introversion means that I recharge by spending time alone or thinking and expend energy when I am around people or doing stuff. I happen to be a pretty strong introvert, so I would fall somewhere around here and get exhausted more easily and more quickly when interacting with other people.

Extroversion vs. Introversion - Not what you may think

I tend to test somewhere around 90% towards introversion.

Intuition (vs. Sensing) means that I perceive the world best through abstract concepts and thinking. I form patterns of thought and quickly see the interconnectedness of everything. If you don’t think something can be connected to something else, it probably can to me. Remember those idea webs or clusters you might have had to make in school as a brainstorming exercise? My thoughts run like that all the time. Sensing means perceiving the world best through the five senses, relying on very tangible, real world things.

Sensing & Intuition

I don’t test as strongly on these values – my preference is somewhere closer to the middle.

Thinking (vs. Feeling) should come as no surprise by now; I make decisions based on logic and reasoning and attempt to do so with as little bias as possible. Feeling means decisions tend to be made with empathy and understanding the situation from the others’ point of view.

Thinking & Feeling

Similar to Sensing & Intuition!

Last but not least are Judging and Perceiving. Intuition and Sensing are considered Perceiving functions (how you perceive the world and & absorb information around you) whereas Thinking and Feeling are considered Judging functions (how you make decisions). Judging vs. Perceiving is reflecting which of these functions is more dominant in how you go about your life. There are more nuanced ways for how the combinations of these qualities and the degree to which you prefer them can be interpreted, but that would require quite a lot of research and extends far beyond the purposes of this post.

Perceiving & Judging

Overall, my Judging preference is pretty strong, similar to how strong my preference is for Introversion.

Keeping in mind that each of these are a dichotomy and where you stand between them can vary from day to day or depending on the situation, these are not inflexible. I have emotions, I am not incapable of being influenced by empathy, and I can trust my sight to confirm a fact; I am merely naturally inclined to choose the other way most of the time or in many situations.

The real test for whether the MBTI stands up to my personal scrutiny is how well I feel the result actually reflects my personality. Given at this moment I mention it multiple times in this blog, it should be pretty obvious that I feel it reflects my personality very well. It’s the first such personality assessment to really do so. Most of the time I have taken such tests, it felt all so very vague – yes, yes, that could apply to me, but that could apply to a lot of people, really. The MBTI’s description of an INTJ goes beyond that, describing very specific aspects of myself and struggles I have faced for years that I had scarcely admitted to myself, let alone anyone else. In short, it totally gets me.

Since I’m still an individual with different experiences from many other people, the INTJ descriptor of course can only go so far. I have worked very hard, for instance, on developing my Feeling side; trying to experience and decide more things with my heart rather than my head. All that said, it’s still a great tool for getting a good, overall sense and a little in-depth picture of who I am with just the mention of four little letters.

If you’re interested in a description of an INTJ, personalitypage.com’s personality profiles are some of my favorite and I believe their INTJ profile describes me quite well.