This article was written by Lynn Joseph on behalf of Sherley Altidor.
There are positives and negatives to the word “Strong” when it comes to labelling a women as such. A woman is often punished for her strength (physically, financially, mentally, emotionally) when others are intimidated. A woman is seen as difficult and unlikable when she stands firm in expressing the full spectrum of emotions…that we all have. But the negatives are almost always about another person’s insecurities and inability to see the complexities in those who aren’t like them. So if you ever think that you should change to fit into someone else’s idealized version of you, don’t. Read my article on Why The World Doesnt Need A Women
Women are strong. This isn’t a quality designated to one gender. Women can be and are physically strong. Women can be and are independent. Women can be and are dependent. It takes a strong person to know when they need to lean on other people. It takes a strong person to get up everyday and keep going when doors slam in your face, when opportunities (raises and bonuses and pay equity from the get go for examples) are not afforded to you because of your gender. It takes a strong person to know their worth and demand it.
For far too long, women were on the sidelines and had no voice, no say, no agency over their lives. Men are never labeled as strong because of the age old tradition and belief that the man is the provider…and how can one provide without the strength to get it all done? The fact is though that they didn’t get it all done by themselves and if they listened to their partners, they could do an even better job in their households. But with any new voice creeping in to make change (demanding autonomy) comes resistance and that resistance is alive and well today.
The threat of not even better but simply making room for a different kind of strength, a more nuanced complexity has caused society as a whole to see the women who are strong, whether they shout out about it from the rooftop or simply live by example, as mean. The resistance to strong women is steeped into the everyday psyche, so much so that women are demonized and made to feel like they should stay in their place. Unseen and unheard. But being seen as mean when you put your foot down and stand up for yourself is so much more valuable than remaining stuck in a loop of self-hatred.
We are taught to love just as we are taught to hate. But we must not allow society to tell us to hate ourselves and fix ourselves in every which way. This is damaging not only financially but it is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. We are told we are weak if we express our femininity in a certain way, if we don’t fight back a certain way, if we go against the status quo in any way. We are weak if we let fear rule our lives. Well, this last one may be true for everyone, not just for women. So I implore you to think about what makes us weak as a human race and how as a woman, you can turn those weaknesses on their heads and use them as a weapon to smash the glass ceiling.
1) be unapologetic in who you are, what you stand for, and what you earn
2) lead with love because love humbles people in ways that they may never reveal to you, even if one interaction with you changes the course of how they see their lives
3) don’t be ashamed of your weaknesses, we all have them. Do what you can to learn how to live with them. Embrace the faults. Take in stride. Adjust as necessary to the extent that you can. Laugh. Live. Because if you don’t love and respect all of you, how can you expect anyone else to?
We were labeled as strong because we were finally kind to ourselves, recognizing ourselves and all we had to offer. Don’t forget to carry it out. Because you are strong, even if you don’t see it. Your voice carries your strength for you.
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