We live in a world where a woman must be independent, yet appear needy. Strong, yet compliant. Sexy with a six-pack, yet work a 9 -10p. We are conditioned to accept these anomalies; not necessarily because we’re in competition with each other, but because these check lists of characteristics are important to attract the opposite sex. They’re important so that we don’t seem bitter or bitchy.
Honest moment. The general consensus about me – unless someone has read my writing or knows me personally – is that I am cold, stuck-up and bougie. Of course this is the opinion of those who haven’t even uttered a word to me. The other consensus is that my mouth is too big because instead of letting others dictate how I feel about ANYTHING I ALWAYS give my opinion.
It’s not that I don’t give a warm smile or a personable handshake. I extend these pleasantries because I was raised to do so. I am rather quiet and reserved unless I’m networking for career reasons because that is genuinely my personality. I’m not hype, I chill. Not that bubbly. I am mercurial and pensive. I wait to show my inner workings until a certain level of familiarity is established. The snobby, cold assessment hurts my feelings on occasion, especially when I’ve tried so hard to appear otherwise. But now we get to the crux of my reason for writing this.
If I was a man, my “snobby silence” would be interpreted as stoic. If I were a man, my “bougie” would mean that I am preferential. If I were a man, my emotionless ambition would be just that, simple ambition, instead of the “bitch at work” connotation that I am given.
Same thing goes for our leaders who are women. Hillary Clinton is manly because she’s strong and opinionated and stayed with Bill through the scandal. The New Yorker couldn’t wait to portray first lady Michelle Obama as a fatigue-wearing, gun-toting, fist-pumping militant. How this dichotomy still exists in 2013 is baffling. But I’ll tell you this…
I will continue to have a big mouth, even if it means I’m labeled with the “strong Black woman” stereotype. I will continue to be preferential because I’ve worked damn hard for everything I have; no help from a man, husband, boyfriend in sight. I will continue to be silent until I have something meaningful to say. Or you do too.
Until we make our strength the norm, f*ck heads will continue to expect us to bow down.