Strong women make easy targets. They refuse to bow down, conform, or blend into a crowd making it easy to scapegoat them. In theory, people love supporting the idea of a strong woman; in practice, not so much. Here’s the thing about strong women though: we just don’t give a f*ck about your nonsense and just as soon as there are enough of us, your nonsense won’t matter.
I was brought up by an exceptionally strong mum and six larger-than-life aunts, each one strong, talented, and successful. My mother only let the strongest women into her life, which thankfully added to the positive female role models in my life. I assumed all women were this powerful because even in the face of so much negativity, these women remained true to themselves. It’s simply been a part of me to be surrounded by women of strength. Sometimes that strength is outward and loud. Other times it’s quiet, watchful, and patient. Regardless of what form it takes, it’s always awe inspiring.
If you’re not used to being around strong women it can be off-putting. We are a threat to the status quo. We demand more from the people around us, male and female, and just as we stand our ground on issues of importance, we expect that same strength and commitment from those we interact with. Anything that challenges the norm is seen as threatening though and so people will attempt to put distance between you and themselves. Let them. They are, in essence, trimming the fat for you and would have cracked under the pressure to hide their weakness.
If this post is off-putting to you that’s also fine. If I were a man writing this and saying ‘I don’t care what you think about me because either way I’m living my life’ would you be affronted? Would you think I’m tooting my own horn? Would it seem that abnormal? The truth is, if you’re unsettled by this post, you probably wouldn’t care if I were a man writing this. But because I’m a woman, asserting myself outwardly and publicly, it’s almost cringe worthy. Well let me say it again, I’m not trying to be rude to you. The truth is I just don’t give a f*ck about nonsense and your being unsettled by female confidence is nonsense. Anytime someone exhibits behavior that is perceived to belong to another gender they are ridiculed, mocked, and bullied. Female confidence, assertiveness, and strength are no different and until these traits are seen as both male and female (or simply human), women will be singled out and demonized for possessing these qualities.
Strength is not drawn from a finite source. If I show strength that clearly doesn’t lessen the strength you’re able to have or show. What I’m now just starting to realize, though, is that female strength is not always about the strength that I’m showing as a woman but about the perceived weakness my strength is highlighting in you. As a woman, I’m meant to be meeker, more accepting, less argumentative. As a strong woman, however, I won’t stand idly by while some bullsh*t is being played out. Calling out that bs is what is so unnerving about a strong woman and it’s what scares people.
As with all stereotyping, demonizing a woman for being strong and confident is lazy. It’s unoriginal, it requires minimal use of brain cells, is born out of ignorance, and is just so tired. But until and unless we embrace women for all the ways in which they show strength – leaving children to earn a living, staying at home with children, earning PhDs, breaking barriers by engaging in every type of job out there, defending women’s right to choose what happens to their bodies, etc. – this will never be accepted as a female trait. It will instead be called bitchiness, affirmative action, controlling, whatever to detract from the path that woman is forging for herself.
As far as possible, I’m raising my son and nephews to be gender-blind. I imagine this may one day morph into highlighting the nonsensical way in which certain attributes are assigned to different genders but for now, it’s gender blindness. I remember having a conversation with a friend where she was explaining to me how her daughter is essentially a leader at daycare. She laughed and jokingly said ‘I’m worried about what the other parents will say about her bossiness.’ I was exactly the same in preschool (surprising, no?) and I’ve been called every name under the sun: bossy, bitchy, controlling, you name it. At the end of the day though the question shouldn’t be ‘why is this girl so bossy?’ but ‘what is this girl (or parent) doing so right that she is a leader?’ Also ps, according to the status quo women are bossy but men are leaders; no thank you.
Showing female strength can sometimes feel like you’re shouting into the wind; no one wants to hear you and they use the blowing wind as an excuse to keep you silenced. But it’s also possible for the wind to change direction. We can be that change. We can raise our children, male and female, to see strength as strength, regardless of whether it comes from a man or a woman. We can make that an appealing, attractive, and genderless quality. And for our generation now we can support each other. This doesn’t mean everyone has to take a stand on everything. It simply means that we don’t have to let our fear of female strength drive our desire to tear down and destroy those who show strength. That can actually happen. Strong women are only a threat to you if you’re benefiting from keeping women down. Otherwise we’re just wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, colleagues, bosses, friends, neighbors attempting to carve out a space for ourselves.
FYI : if you do continue to hate on strong women, we still don’t give a f*ck and you won’t change us.