“You don’t have to play masculine to be a strong woman.” Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Strong women who demand that their expectations are met are labeled bitches. I’ve had that bitch label thrown at me in some instances.
I was raised to be polite and kind, but to always stand up for myself and what I believe in. Because I start off being sweet and understanding – even while stating what I want and expect – people tend to be shocked when I truly stand up for myself. The knee-jerk reaction at that point is to call me a bitch.
Admittedly, on occasion, I’ve thought to myself, “Well, if you are going to call me a bitch because I’m asking that you meet these reasonable expectations, then I might as well ACT like a bitch – maybe then we’ll see some movement in the right direction.” More often than not, it is only when I have finally had enough — of being put off, of being told things are no big deal, of being held back — that I stop being understanding and calm, and I start really demanding things.
The frustration from being unheard is maddening, and it builds up until my communication becomes extremely direct. At that point, apparently I’m being a bitch.
Here’s the truth, though: what I accept is what I will get. I’m not here to live a mediocre life. I failed to live as a strong woman for many years out of fear of ridicule, fear of not being loved, fear of not making it on my own. Guess what? While living that mediocre life, I was ridiculed anyway, I had people stop loving me anyway, and I wasn’t making it on my own anyway.
It was only when I stopped being afraid of what anyone else would think and of what the outcome might be that I truly started living the life I am meant to live –which is a life of value, and one in which I am able to help others.
Strong women can become emotionally driven – when they normally wouldn’t dream of behaving in that manner – because they’ve had enough. Then come the “crazy,” “irrational,” “overly-emotional,” “emotionally unstable” labels. Women who are portrayed in that light lose almost all credibility, and the descriptor that then gets thrown around at jobs, in social circles, and in courtrooms is unreasonable. Unreasonable people are not taken seriously. Period.
That nasty spiral is meant to bully women into remaining subservient. The bullying is covert, which makes it even more harmful to strong women. The bullying actions are concealed in seemingly normal situations, and once a woman gets tagged with the unreasonable label, no one will ever question the bully’s true motives.
If strong women are so passionate in their drive to stand up for themselves, how can such bullying actually happen?
The answer is FEAR.
The bitch label, and subsequent assumptions about a woman’s character, cause fear. I’ve always been a passionate, driven woman. The only thing that has ever held me back is fear. Strong women have had to give into the fear created by the bully-driven bitch label because of money needs, career desires and goals, and to protect children from unfair court proceedings. Women who are doing the right thing, playing fair, and following the rules naturally expect that others will behave likewise. It doesn’t even cross our minds that people would live any other way.
Truth is, when we stand up for ourselves, there is a very real possibility that those who feel threatened by our strength will cause things to get much, much worse instead of having a breakthrough understanding of our positions. The effects of this manner of bullying can be devastating. I know – I lived it.
To be clear: Strong women are not asking for anyone to save them. Strong women are not asking for anyone to give them special favors. Strong women are not seeking an easy way out. Strong women are not looking to blame anyone for their own failures. We are asking that everyone follow the rules and that the playing field is level. We recognize our weaknesses along with our strengths, and we don’t make excuses. We also refuse to accept them. We want to be treated fairly and with respect, and we want others to meet appropriate expectations. The bullying of strong women must stop. We have much to offer and much to contribute.
We deserve to live our lives passionately and without fear. I do not think for one second that’s too much to ask. It’s probably not enough.
Love and light,
Did this resonate with you? Did you enjoy reading it? Did you learn something? If so, please share! xoxo
(For the original post, see: The Good Men Project)