Adapted from a recent online discussion.
It's not that she's no girly-girl; the problem is why
Virginia: I'm not a girly-girl, not that there's anything wrong with that. I've never gone for ultra-feminine clothes, I like watching sports and drinking beer, don't do jewelry or flowers, etc. That's just who I am, and I'm not being contrary or rebellious. Why would me just being me offend some men? I'm not trying to emasculate them with my awesome map-reading skillz.
Carolyn: Being different doesn't usually offend people — it's needing to broadcast that you're different that causes problems. Appearing uncomfortable in your own skin will keep people from warming up to you.
I realize I'm committing a serious advice-columnist crime — using the fact of your approaching me against you — but while your question seems reasonable on its face, your feeling compelled to ask it says, "Look at me, I'm a girl who watches sports and drinks beer!" You're generalizing yourself and others.
It's hard to break a habit of being self-conscious, especially since thinking about the problem makes you even more conscious. However, if self-consciousness is your problem, try this:
When you're about to do/say/wear something, ask yourself who your audience is for this decision. If it's anybody but you, then rethink it and make the choice you'd make if no one were looking. Lather, agonize, repeat. Conscious choices like these don't stay conscious forever; eventually they become (I hope better-fitting) habits.
Anonymous: For Va.: Just being you, whoever you are, is going to offend someone. If you're secure, you can behave pleasantly toward those people as you skirt your way around them.
Carolyn: Or pants your way around them, in this case. Thanks.
Anon 2: Okay, really? It's 2010. Women enjoying sports and beer is not even remotely outside the norm. When I (female, beer-drinker, sports-watcher) have problems with other women of similar tastes, it's because they only want to watch sports and drink beer with men, and not being a "girly" girl is code for "I don't like hanging around other women." Not that this is Virginia's issue, but that kind of defensiveness is familiar.
Anon 3: Carolyn, I think you were too hard on Virginia. Assuming she's not flaunting the things she naturally likes, the men she offends are probably insecure about their own map-reading skillz.
Anon 4: For Va.: I'm going to be blunt: Men like "girly-girls." I don't mean they want a high-maintenance woman — just a girl who looks nice and likes girly things. We like women who take care of themselves and enjoy things we like, without being just another guy in the room.
Anon 5: For Va.: Some women use their non-girly-ness as a defense mechanism: "I'm more like a man and therefore better than that girly-girl over there." Internalized sexism, classic stuff.
Anon 6: For Va: I'm a guy, and it sounds like you rock.
Carolyn: There you go.