As I was browsing my google reader this morning I came upon a post from I am Mama, Hear me Roar. She gave us some of her thoughts on true strength.
I thought maybe I would do the same. While I’m sure my words can apply to everyone, I will speak specifically about women.
I grew up just as the “girl power” and “you can have it all” fads were gaining momentum. I’ve already made my thoughts on “you can have it all” known. So today I will focus more on “girl power”.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s spine shudders every time they hear those words. It’s not that I think women are not powerful or capable or in any way inferior to men. In fact, there are several things that I think women are far better at then men are. The thing that bothers me is that somehow, in the quest for “equality” or the need to be labeled “strong and independent” women everywhere have given up their womanhood. These women, for whatever reason, think they need to become men in all but anatomy in order to show their strength and independence. It’s nonsensical.
Now comes the point in my post where I have to give my mandatory disclaimer. No, I don’t think all women belong pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen. Yes, I am a traditional mom, but that doesn’t mean I think that every woman needs to do what I do. My lifestyle is my choice and what is best for my family; I assume you want to reserve the ability to make the right choices for your family. No, I don’t think that women aren’t capable of being CEO’s (quite the contrary actually). Yes, I think that if a woman wants a career then it is absolutely her right to pursue that career. Yes, I do believe in equal work for equal pay (though don’t believe that a woman should be paid as much as a man simply because she is a woman. She actually has to be doing equal work to get the equal pay.) End mandatory disclaimer.
Matt and I have a certain woman in our lives. She is a Hollywood caricature of everyone’s nightmare crazy woman. She is hateful. She is degrading. She is manipulative, vulgar and crass. She is defensive, petty and spiteful. She is perfectly attractive enough and certainly looks like a woman but in no way, shape or form is she a lady.
It is as if she is trying prove herself as powerful as any man when, in reality, no man would ever act that way. In trying to show that she is strong, independent and capable she has proven herself small and limited. As the old cliche goes, the man who buys the big fancy car is trying to over compensate for something. Unfortunately, she over compensates for her imagined insecurities with a hateful and degrading attitude. Everyone who works with her knows what she really is; an insecure teenage brat in a position of power.
I know that every woman in a position of power is not like that. In fact, I would probably say that most women aren’t like that at all, but it bothers me that our society has encouraged this type of behavior. Females are not at all “the weaker sex”; but we are not men and we do our gender no great service by trying to act like we are. It is perfectly possible to be a strong, take-charge, in-charge kind of woman and feminine at the same time. It is possible to be a lady without being walked all over or taken advantage of.
If that kind of woman is not a strong and independent woman, what kind of woman is? I’m sure you know what I’m going to say, but I’ll say it anyway.
I consider myself a very strong and independent woman. I try to embrace my feminine nature and allow my womanhood to define who I am, but not what I can do. I can do anything I want. If I wanted to be a surgeon, I have no doubt that I could. If I wanted to be the president of a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company, I could do the job and I could do it well. I just don’t want to. I’m happy where I am and I’m not willing to put in the time away from my family in order to achieve something that I don’t think would make me happy.
I see myself as the antithesis of the woman I mentioned earlier. To me a strong woman is someone who can do what she wants with her life without loosing her womanhood in the process. I am no less of a lady while covered in sawdust, paint, child slobber and various food particles then when I come fresh out of the salon. I’m just as much of a strong and independent woman in a nice dress and heels as I am covered in sweat after a 15 mile run.
One of my favorite quotes is from Margaret D. Nadauld
The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.
There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.
There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.
We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.
We have enough greed; we need more goodness.
We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.
We have enough popularity; we need more purity.
Notice she did not say “We have enough women who are capable, we need more women who cook, clean and sew.” Being a strong woman is not about what you do, but how you do it.
So tell me, what do you think it means to be a strong woman?