As long as I can remember, the men in my life have tried to control how my actions and how I communicate. The funny thing is that they don’t see it as control. In fact, I’ve heard them say they see it as guiding or protecting me because that’s their role as a man in my life. It started with my father and my uncles (I have many). Then, it happened in my intimate relationships with men. In fact, I see occassional hints of it in my marriage even today. Why do the men in my life behave in this manner? They have embraced the patriarchal and misogynist attitudes about how a woman’s place in society and a man’s role is in her life. Unfortunately for them, I WILL NOT be limited by their perspectives. Yes. I am woman! Hear me roar.
My family has told me that I’m the epitome of the strong woman and that I can be perceived as an alpha female. They have also told me to thank God that I’m the queen of femininity because it softens my blows. Isn’t that interesting? When I initially cut my hair, my father was devastated. He was concerned that I looked like a man, especially when I ran around in yoga pants and T-shirts all of the time. Now, anyone mistaking my curvaceous body for that of a man needs a reality call. So now, not only was I bossy, my short hair just added salt to the game. If only the men in my life could get a grip on reality and stop prescribing to societal norms that make women be something they’re not.
Now, the women in my family seem to hold me up as an idol when it comes to assertive femininity. They know I don’t hold my tongue and while I might say it in love, I know how to get my point across. They also know that I won’t sit around waiting for someone to take care of business. In fact, my sister calls me She-Ra and brags about my “super powers”. While I’m honored by her accolades, I have to admit that these same characteristics that the women revere are despised by men. My father once told me that I don’t know how to let a man be a man. I’ve heard this from other men in my life, as well. I found this statement to be ironic because at the time, I was a single mother raising a young child and there was no man in my home. I didn’t have someone there to do those traditional things that most men do so I did them myself, called a relative, or hired someone to do the work. How is a woman supposed to not do what society considers to be manly things if there’s no man there to do them?
I remember experiencing challenges in my first year of marriage because of my personality and experiences. I wasn’t used to consulting someone about decisions AND I had no idea how to make a man feel like a man. I also was used to speaking my mind as I please. I had a great deal of women in my church trying to school me on how to be a proper God-fearing woman and I really tried. I tried so much that I lost myself and ended up playing a role that wasn’t really me. Even my husband knew it was fake and asked me to stop. I had stopped being what I considered to be assertive and became a classic push-over. In order for women to achieve or get any respect in society, we can’t be perceived as weak. Even a man who wants to control us likes a challenge. I know that sounds strange but it’s the truth.
So, how have I resolved this issue I have with men. Here’s the deal. I am who I am. I’m who God created me to be. While there’s room for enhancement, there’s not room to change who I am to make others feel better. I won’t disrespect the men in my life AND I won’t cower down to them either. Yes! I am woman! Hear me roar.
Love and light.