Speaking with my friends is often cathartic…for who…is relative. A conversation may begin with my complaint of the day, or theirs…or just a meeting of the minds on the topic of the day. Either way, I’m constantly inspired by the dialogue between my girls and me.
One of the topics on the table was the expectations cast on women from the time they’re able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We talked about how we’re taught socially to “be nice”, “act like a lady”, and not to be loud or too expressive. Read: Don’t be too emotional.
This has always bothered me as a double standard, but for some reason…right here in this moment of my life, it’s down right insulting and I’m exhausted by it. I refuse to allow anyone, male or female to negotiate the hostage-taking of my emotions, the right to express myself and my right to my needs being taken care of.
We’re taught to be compassionate and loving. We’re given dolls and miniature versions of our mother’s day to day tools. Mini kitchens, babies, clothes, dishes, food…all packaged as pink, girly accessories for a little girl’s fantasy life. We’re taught to play quietly in the corner while honing the skills we’ll one day use for our husbands and children. The same is shoved down the throats of young boys, no matter their desire for other ways to express themselves. They’re given cars, action figures and some of the best Lego parts, *lol* so that they can hone their skills to navigate, build and be in motion. Us girls are taught to stay planted at the homestead and make sure that everything is perfect for our mate’s return home.
This is sickening…it’s sexist and it’s a direct insult to the many children who have “unpopular” needs and desires.
I digress…What brought about the overall topic of women and their place, was an article on Gas-Lighting as a form of emotional abuse. How we women are taught as little girls to undermine our memories, needs and issues with the world, with the subtle manipulation of our need to be approved of and accepted.
We’re taught that the simple act of reminding your spouse to do a household chore equates to nagging. We’re told that our expression of emotion is a torturous, agonizing, and a somewhat punishing kind of chiding that is the root of all relationship issues.
We’re taught that our jobs, careers and hobbies are fleeting wanderlust and not beneficial to our relationships.
“You can’t keep a man, nagging all of the time…”
“You have to bring a man peace of mind…learn to shut up”
“You can’t be TOO independent…”
…what about OUR peace of mind? Are we so caught up with the idea of being in a union that we’ll forgo our own voided needs and feelings of discontent to keep a man from leaving us…or God forbid, keep him from hating us. We’re led down the path of inflicting misogynistic ideals onto ourselves. Something like, how slaves no longer needed chains once they’d begun teaching themselves the fears of being caught. We women teach ourselves how unworthy we are until we’re a wife, a mother or a complete master at what we do.
We are taught that not only do we have to be seen and not heard, but we’re also taught that we have to be strong about it. No tears…no weak displays that will just add to the stress of our mate. We have to buck up and take every hit like we’re bullet proof. We’re not allowed to be delicate, weak and in need of love and provision, lest we be needy, clingy and gold-diggers. Everything we do to the chagrin of the man in this society has a name. We can’t be sexual beings…lest we be whores. We can’t be assertive, lest we be bitches. We’re made to feel as if emotions are poisonous and a detriment to our marketability.
What I found interesting (and brought up to my sister friend) was how we’re pigeon-holed as the emotional “unstable creatures”, while men have started wars over the love of a woman and hurt egos. How when we were kids, boys pulled my hair and pushed me down to show their interest. Don’t let them get rejected! In comes the hurling of insults like bricks. “Bitch”, “Fat bitch”, “Whore”…tell me I’m wrong! I’ve seen hurt men become irreparably damaged by a broken heart, dragging every woman he dates thereafter, down a path of emotional and sometimes physical abuse. I’ve been in relationships where my love was neglected because he “never wanted to make the same mistake again”, yet he craved the intimacy of MY love and dedication. Oh, but women are the emotional whores…
One of the other things we discussed was how we end up wondering are we “too much”. Are we dramatic, extra, over-emoting beings who are incapable of controlling our feelings. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are extremes to every dynamic. Just as there are men who self-destruct when hurt, we have women who become dramatic attention whores to compensate for missing love and abandonment issues. These people DO exist, but we’re talking about an overall expectation on women, no matter her demeanor or personality, that casts us in the role of the psycho girlfriend who has the NERVE to ask for love. Wow…who does she think she is? O_O
Anyway, I hadn’t written a blog in a while and I decided to come here and lay some feelings down. I’m hoping that this little entry can somewhat give another woman a sense that she’s understood and not alone. It’s okay to be tired of strong.