“As a feminist, one of the things I struggle with is how, simply, to protect myself from men. I ask this question specifically because in our society, with all the entitled, trash white men in the world, I am called to be assertive, bold and upfront in order to not have men take advantage of me. Unfortunately, I am not by nature any of these qualities– my natural personality is much more associated with how a “traditional” woman should behave (patient, nurturing, etc.). Mediating between being myself and unintentionally fulfilling discriminatory norms about women is very difficult! Do you have any advice?”- StrongWoman
Your words resonate with me, and I’m sure with others. I think I’ve said this before, but I believe after the #MeToo movement, men didn’t really change- they just adjusted. Switched their catcalls to anonymous reply guy accounts, maybe learned a few new words, the “big guys” got taken down- and the work was done! While the #MeToo era started the conversation, there was no end. The subtleties of rape culture remain untouched subjects. I still don’t think most people truly Believe Women. You are right to be protecting yourself- we are in an environment that requires us to.
But, you also need to give yourself some credit!!!!
Why is being patient and nurturing NOT strength? As someone who is very bad at being patient, I can confirm 100% it takes all of my strength to listen to someone who can’t get to the point. Patience is something few men have, which is why they are weak. Even if it only helps your piece of mind, reframe your lens of the “traditional woman.” Despite what men want us to believe, strength is not steroids and rage and denial. Strength is the ability to GIVE BIRTH, think critically, be vulnerable- all things that men have traditionally deemed “weak” because they cannot allow themselves to go there. Men are rarely consistent except when it comes to control. Your inherent nature is just as strong as an assertive and bold personality.
I like to think about temperament as the different element powers (earth/fire/air/water). For example, I think my element would be fire. While fire is fire, you obviously need to learn to control your powers or you’ll burn your school’s forest down (Winx Saga, anyone?) No matter what your element/temperament may be, it’s about control. Learning how to help yourself either step out or step back when necessary. I get extremely heated (no pun intended) and have a hard time keeping my mouth shut- this is my challenge in exercising control. Instead of using your patience on others, try using it on yourself. Don’t be angry about your temperament- embrace it and find your power in it. Don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones for help when you need. I think as women we are often afraid to ask for more- breaking this begins with basic self-love.
I say this often about relationships, but I think it applies here too: don’t live by what other people say because they aren’t you. Your best friend’s definition of a StrongWomanTM could be the loudest, most assertive lady ever. But, that’s just her definition. You control your perspective just as you control your patience. In terms of literal protection, I will never discourage a pepper spray just in case. Your mental protection though, is a longstanding journey that you can take comfort in knowing every woman is forever on.
But if you really want to have a fiery attitude, there is definitely a Spotify playlist for that.