A “strong woman” is a descriptor that feels good to hear. It’s a basic challenge to the patriarchal standard that men do the labor and women do the pretty.
It conjures within us the unmistakable feeling of hearing a teacher ask the boys in our third grade class to help move chairs from one room to the next. “I can lift a chair too!” we think. “At this age, boys and girls are built exactly the same!” (We have very mature perspectives on human biology for our age)
But women aren’t one-dimensional badasses drinking beer, wearing heels, riding a bull, shooting a bow and arrow all with perfect hair and makeup AND while pregnant. (Maybe, like, two of us are. But certainly not all of us.)
If there’s one last thing I can impart to you, Her Campus readers, it’s that a woman’s strength doesn’t come from any physical, mental, or emotional labor we’ve done for ourselves or someone else.
Strong women are great. I’m obsessed with them and I want to friend them and learn from them and admire them. But not all women are strong, just like not all men are strong, and not all people are strong. I’m not a strong woman. I’m not unusually powerful.
And I don’t think we need to demand our daughters, our little sisters, the women we mentor at our super-cool postgrad jobs be inhumanly powerful.
You don’t have to run for president or own your own business or survive some kind of violence or injustice or trauma to fulfill your 21st century woman duty. You aren’t obligated to be strong all the time.
You can be vulnerable. You can be happy, sad, angry. You can be funny or inspiring or loud or quiet. You can counter the nasty things in the world and be positive-- not because you’re ignoring the bad, but because you need to rebel against it and survive.
You can and should pursue your passions. Making art is DOPE. So is teaching children and teens, healing people’s sick bodies and minds, ensuring justice. And discovering new knowledge, bringing people closer to products and services they love, and helping the world operate better. Influencing people. Loving them hard and and loving them selflessly and loving them well. No action the fire in your heart guides you toward will make you weak.
HC readers, I want you to be authentic. To learn new things. To get better-- kinder, more forgiving, more in tune with what you need-- every day. Screw forcing yourself to be a strong woman. You can just be. And that’s more than enough.
I love you. You’ve got this.