Things Men Tell Women
Strong willed, argumentative, too much, intimidating, too independent…these are all terms I’ve heard used to describe women that were driven, ambitious, organized and smart. Women can expect to be blacklisted with these normal characteristics if they voice their opinions to loudly or too often. Women who don’t feel the need to be quiet in spaces dominated by men can expect to receive these labels. These terms are used on women who are free thinkers who question the narrative.
I’ve spoken to women who didn’t feel it was safe speak up because they were afraid to be labelled negatively and I’ve spoken to women who’ve put other women into these categories as well. As a black woman I’ve felt the pressure of these statements and recognized times when my actions were no different from other women, but where I would receive the label sooner than another woman who was not black. I blame this on stereotypes that are so ingrained into our society that people would rather question your sanity, then question where their beliefs about a particular topic come from.
I believe that these terms used for women would never be used to describe men put in similar situations or outcomes. It’s sad to say that these terms are used to control and manipulate women to keep them in their place. That place of being walked on or controlled for the benefit of men.
Women, at the brunt of these words are left to introspectively question their actions and how they come across. Something plenty of women already do too often.
I’m not saying that women can’t be strong willed and the other descriptive words that I mentioned in the beginning, but my challenge to all of us is to question this narrative more often. When someone says that a particular woman embodies these attributes, ask questions out loud. What makes this woman like that? Is this true? If she were a man would we think that? Is someone trying to control this woman?
Women should be allowed to be women. She is not strong willed she is not intimidating, opinionated or too independent. She is a person with thoughts and actions. She does not need to step into a cage so that others around her can be more comfortable with themselves and dominate asserting their own ideas above hers. We need to stop viewing women negatively for wanting to have ownership over the direction of their lives.
What are your thoughts on words we use to describe women negatively? Do you think they have an underlying purpose?
This post was necessary. I liked how you expressed the introspection we experience when criticized, especially in our environment, and how it doubts our essence. I know what you write is true, but reading it gives me another dimension of the issue. The impact of being on constant criticism requires a considerable amount of energy from us.
These conversations are sometimes too long and frequent, in some cultures longer than others.
I agree with you Olivic, it can be very emotionally draining for us especially when it is so often not even acknowledged. Thanks for your thoughts on this!