What!? Am I a weak, dependent woman?
No, no, no. I’m a woman. Therefore there is no need to say that I am strong and independent.
Before I go any further, imagine saying: “Oh, he is such a strong, independent man! Look at him do his thing!” Seriously, say it out loud! Now, does it make you giggle a little bit? Does it make you feel funny, like you’re making a sarcastic joke?
Well, maybe you say such affirmations of men all the time. But I for one do not. So yes, I tried those words on for size this spring at the urging of my strongly feminist friend. And guess what, saying “he is such a strong independent man” tasted a bit ridiculous. I almost felt like I was belittling the so-said man in my sentence by feminizing him.
Am I horrible? Am I sexist? I’ve always strived to be a strong, independent woman. It’s basically been my life’s dream! What more could I, a woman, want, other than recognition for demonstrating courage and fortitude against the plagues of being an assumedly weak, dependent woman?
What more could I want? What more could I want!? Well, let’s see… I could want my strength and independence to be assumed. In fact, I do want that. And I am so, so thankful to have learned such a valuable lesson from my friend.
I also want strength and independence to be the default for every woman reading this. And I want all of the tremendously awesome things that you do to be products of your womanhood, your personhood, and not products of your extraordinary, phrase-worthy strength and independence. BECAUSE WE, WOMEN, JUST LIKE MEN, ALREADY HAVE STRENGTH AND INDEPENDENCE. We’re freaking humans, its what we do. (We also can be weak, stupid, crazy, and needy… but all in equal parts man and woman).
So, have my life dreams to be a strong independent woman been shattered? Yes. Have they been replaced by a new dream to be a “female bodied human who… tries, cries, giggles, dances horribly, rides an alpaca like a gringa, teaches, and loves her friends and family etc.?” Yup!
And I’m hopeful that you’ll join me in believing the best about ourselves to be as inherent to our gender as it is to men’s.
And if you’re interested in reading more, this article is fantastic: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters