Throughout the ages women have born the title of ‘the weaker sex’. In fact, I wonder if they were ever justified in owning this descriptive. The physical make up of a woman is typically smaller and less muscular than that of a man, making it possible for them to be physically dominated, but does that mean they are weaker? And that women were automatically cast into submissive roles – how’d that come about?
Taking control of society by brute force was simple for men who flexed their muscle, but how would they have survived in a society ruled exclusively by brain and no brawn? Gone are the days (and thank goodness!) when women were viewed as delicate flowers, brainless, helpless, and in need of protection from a big strong male, because over the years women figured out that if they wanted to raise their profile and independence they needed to flex muscle of a different kind, so they learned how to use the strongest organ in the body; the one that can rule muscle – the brain.
Effective use of thought and strategy gave women the ability to influence their male counterparts, subtly, so the men didn’t even see it. (many still don’t) That’s not to say they had complete control but it certainly gave them a voice in a male dominated world; a voice they otherwise didn’t have.
As I moved through my adult years I experienced and witnessed numerous situations that tested the strength of men and women, mentally and physically, and it changed the way I had been raised to view women. We are most definitely anything but delicate! In fact, I’d venture to say that as we age, women get stronger, probably as a result of the hardships we’d experienced. Men, by contrast, appear to get weaker with age, and not just physically. Maybe that too is a direct result of their life experiences. The difference is how these experiences have manifested themselves in our psyche.
I know of a woman my age, who raised three children, and just as she and her husband planned on retiring to enjoy the fruits of their labour, her sibling died suddenly leaving three young children without parents. One child has special needs and will require supervision and assistance for life. Well past the age to raise a young family, she couldn’t turn her back on these innocent young orphans and took them in, raising a young family all over again. The toll on her husband was visible, despite his acceptance of the situation. She on the other hand, took charge, mustering up the energy of a woman half her age, and gave these children a good home and family. This didn’t come without issues. The challenges of integrating two families, dealing with grief, loss, and resentment, not to mention the financial burden would bring many to their knees, but she did it, and no sooner is she done with raising her second family, than she has to now look after her aging, tired husband and this too she manages, because she can.
I come from a long line of strong women. My mother was a powerhouse and my family and friends have confirmed that I too, apparently, am a force to be reckoned with. I have to admit that for a long time I resented this…and truth told, I was somewhat embarrassed. I didn’t want to be viewed as a ‘tough’ woman. This reputation made me feel hard and unfeminine. (and I am a girly-girl) Fortunately as I aged I came to realize that what some perceived as tough I saw as strong. The experiences of my life made me stronger, more resilient, and dare I say it….. competent! And isn’t that what we’re supposed to do, learn from our experiences and put those teachings to good use? If I’m ‘hard’ or ‘tough’ it’s because life handed me situations that required me to either cope or crumble. I chose to cope. (and since when is competency a crime?)
I suppose at the end of the day we all have a choice in determining how we are to be portrayed, and I do not want to be seen as the ‘damsel in distress’; in need of her knight to save her. I’m capable, confident and able to cope…..and proud of it! And if my knight (or my children) ever need a powerhouse in their moment of weakness (because we ALL have them), I hope they know I can handle it.
I am woman….hear me roar!