What Makes a Strong Woman?

In this day and age, the cultural Zeitgeist is all about “women’s empowerment” and raising “strong women”. We think we know what these ideas should mean and have a mental picture of what they look like, but what really does a strong woman look like? Many cite qualities like independence, autonomy, assertiveness, leadership, etc… Many see her in some sort of high position of power, or with fancy degrees in some high-status career like doctor, lawyer, politician, some STEM field. It’s common to think of her being able to do “anything a man can do” with slogans like “girl power” and “girls rule the world”…

However the question is raised, is that what really makes a woman “strong”? How exactly does one define “strong”? Is it in her assertiveness almost to the point of aggressiveness? Her job title or her credentials? Her assertions that she doesn’t need a man for anything? Her ability to throw off traditional gender norms and clamor for all things masculine? The irony that many qualities she strives for in herself she would now label “toxic” in a man? The fact that she has liberal “woke” politics and ideologies unlike the “gender traitors” who are conservative women? They say a strong woman can think for herself, yet labeled those who stood by Kavanaugh or Trump as “gender traitors”. Is that what strong women are expected to do? Feel threatened enough by others whose opinions you don’t like that you have to shut them up?

Thing is, while many qualities above in moderation such as independence, assertiveness or leadership are okay, I argue our current concept of what makes a woman “strong” really betrays a type of weakness and vulnerability as well as implicitly sexist. The most problematic aspect of how we think of a strong woman is rooted in the implicit idea that she must be like a man, and throw off her traditional gender roles as a woman because male=empowerment and female=oppression. To truly be “equal” in this frame of mind is to be able to be and do anything a man does, but no mention of anything uniquely “woman” in her fight for equality. Whatever a man can do is better than what women traditionally have done. She must want a career, because her “dreams” must go beyond “mere” house keeping and child raising. She needs to earn her own way, or else she’s too “dependent” on a man thus virtually enslaved! Being a wife and mother apparently is not enough to foster her “personal development”. She must literally wear the pants, because dressing as a woman is the “uniform of oppression”. She is “empowered” when she can silence any man who dares speak his mind on issues pertaining to her, cry victim anytime she wants, be pushy and rude and call it “assertiveness”, shun a more feminine identity and reduce it to a “stereotype” and declare that the world is stacked against her. Now, many women who consider themselves as strong don’t feel they support this idea of it, however their attitudes implicitly support many of these ideas.

When you tell a girl “But what else do you want to do? You’re still young…” When she says she wants to raise a family when she grows up.

When you say “You can’t comment on this issue because you’re not a woman!”

When you tell your daughters “Never depend on a man for anything.”

When you say to fight “stereotypes” of women such as being married, home making, and wearing dresses.

You are perpetuating a distorted view of what it means to be strong. To me honestly, such ideas about strength betray weakness and vulnerability. The idea that being a traditional woman is a sign of oppression and that to have any worth in society, or to be considered independent is to take on traditional masculine characteristics belittles womanhood as a whole. Also reinforcing the sexist and misogynist idea that women are second class or lesser members of society, and must imitate men to bear a semblance to anything worthy of being called empowered, equal and strong.

What does it really say about society when the clamor for prominence and power in the public eye are valued far greater than the upbringing of our future generations? Just because a role is not as visible, doesn’t mean the job is any less needed. Motherhood, while more behind the scenes, IS a job in itself. A 24/7 job for life. Standing by your man does not mean you don’t have your own identity. Pants don’t equal freedom from some oppressed role and skirts and dresses don’t mean you’re second class. Wife and mother are just as important titles as CEO or PhD. Power and prestige are not all there is in life. Equal does not always mean identical; men and women can have separate gender roles and be equal in dignity and worth to each other. Putting men’s roles on a pedestal for women to be able to climb to inherently devalues traditional women’s roles even if cried for in the name of equality. Guarding one’s sexuality is not a form of coercion by the patriarchy when women have so much more to lose if she slips up. A woman’s purity is to be honored, not mocked and derided as “old fashioned”. A strong woman and a traditional woman exist side by side and are in no way mutually exclusive! 

So what does it mean to be a strong woman? A strong woman is many things in my opinion:

The confidence in her identity as a traditional women as valuable and meaningful in of itself without the need to be like a man to be worth something.

The ability to value her husband and children over any job title or credential she might earn.

Seeing her privilege, not her victimhood.

A self identity that is strong enough to not feel threatened by taking her husband’s name upon marriage, being “given away” at the altar, being called “Mrs.” or the idea of marriage.

Feeling as empowered and capable in a dress or skirt with long hair as in pants and short hair.

The strength to know she can depend on others like a father, brother, husband etc… for her care and safety and still be independent and strong in her own right.

Taking pride in the fact that she has the choice to give life, not in the choice to take it.

Who can handle words like “mankind” and “man” in the general sense without feeling excluded and microaggressed.

The fortitude to hold the family together in times of trouble, but also let a man take the lead and be the rock when she is given the chance.

Being a rock in her own unique way, as a moral compass of virtue, elegance, and grace for all to see in her family and in the world.

Dressing modestly as a sign of her inner worth and dignity, and having no need to flaunt her body for all to see for her to be “liberated”.

Who is strong enough to think for herself and not feel threatened by another’s opinion nor the need to force other women to think as she does.

Recognizing her ability to achieve her goals not in spite of being a woman in an “oppressive” society, but because of her determination, work ethic, and perseverance as a person. 

The strength it takes to be uniquely feminine, in her own right.

To me those are some things that make a strong woman 🙂

Strong woman

(I made this graphic myself!)

“I’m Just One Person”: The Response to Collective Guilt Demanded by The Left

A concept the Left likes to tout around and try to enforce is the idea that so called “privileged” individuals benefit from a wider system that is made for them, to the exclusion and oppression of others. The most common examples being race and gender, which I will focus on mainly as there is much to say on them. This “system” of oppression over women and racial minorities is the explanation for why they can’t seem to achieve in life or have that “American Dream” of hard work and related to that, why whites, men and especially white men, can’t actually take credit for their achievements! In other words, anything they achieve in life is not due to their own personal efforts, but to the wider “system”.

However, paradoxically, it seems to the Left, this “system” can also only work one way. For example, any criticism of minority communities is unjust because the larger forces, “the system” at work, is to blame, not individual choices. However why then is it the individual’s fault when talking about white people? The argument white people are complicit in a system of racial oppression and are each personally racist simply for having more privilege is just like arguing that poverty in minority communities is their personal fault despite a biased system outside any individual’s control. Or look at how men are told too, that they are responsible for benefiting from a system designed to put them on top and women second class citizens. However one cannot help being born male! Just because historically men as a group may have enacted systems barring women from achieving more, each individual man born in this era had zero personal part to play in the history of women’s oppression.

White individuals living today had absolutely no part to play in the racist atrocities of our past. They did not personally own slaves. Personally attend lynch mobs. Personally take land away from indigenous peoples or exploit them. Personally vote for segregation or internment camps as those living now would have not been born or of voting age. These events happened decades, several generations, even centuries before they were born. Before their grandparents were even born for some historical events! The vast majority of men around now had absolutely no part to play in barring women from entering the workforce or achieving outside the home. Many men raise their daughters to be strong independent women and treat their wives as their equals. Certainly none alive today barred women from getting the vote!

The “system” is supposedly some uncontrolled force of its own impacting both the oppressed and benefiting the oppressors outside any one individual’s control to stop or change it. So why does it seem like the onus for changing this almost all powerful system on people who were simply born into it themselves? Just because white men are the “oppressors” benefiting from this alleged system, doesn’t mean they have the power to control it on an individual scale! It’s not often thought of this way, but one has as much control over being born white or male as one does being born an oppressed minority or a woman. Being born into a legacy of being the historical oppressor does not make one an oppressor by default! At least not in terms of moral responsibility. Yes, any part of an oppressive unfair system in society needs change, but to demand someone change it simply because they were born as its beneficiary is as unfair as making someone live under its thumb simply for who they were born as. The people who should be changing it are not one group. If we want change as a society, the whole society must be a part of that change. Our leaders. The people who are affected by it and have a stake in the issue such as the “oppressed” groups. Those who benefit but repudiate the unfairness of it. Plenty of whites have fought for racial equality side by side with minorities. Plenty of men fight for equality for women. There is no issue with that at all.

The problem is in the idea that the onus to change the system is on someone simply because they were born a certain race or gender but have not actually done anything tangible to oppress anyone else on a personal level. Put more simply, just because something unfair was done overall by a wider group, doesn’t mean one single individual is morally responsible for that wrongdoing. The moral onus to stop unfairness is on those being unfair. For example, it can easily be argued former slave owners morally owe reparations to those they enslaved. However does any non-slave owner owe reparations for slavery a distant ancestor, or even more broadly someone of their race was a part of 200 years ago?

A man who never personally oppressed women, stopped women from moving up in their careers, never treated a woman poorly or abused one, or stole an opportunity that was rightfully a woman’s has no moral responsibility for men who do and men who did. A white person who never treated another person as less than, oppressed them, stole any opportunity from them, or thought they were less of a human being deserving of respect and dignity due to race is not morally responsible for any wider systems of racism in society. Now the Left would come back and say, “but these issues are not about individuals and their actions but wider systematic issues.” and yeah, I can understand what they are trying to argue but they made it about individuals when they decided white people and men need to take moral responsibility for the privileges they were simply born into but never actually stole from anyone through their own actions.

These ideas about personal moral responsibility for a wider system sadly have taken hold on many white people and men who are genuinely not racist or sexist people and reject their unearned privileges and even actively fight alongside others against the alleged “system” benefiting them in the name of greater moral good. This leads to an idea akin to Original Sin where being born a white or male is cause for some form of collective guilt for inheriting privilege and a legacy of being designated as an oppressor. However, my response to that is: But I’m only one person. 

As an individual, I have no control over a wider social system. I only am able to control my own actions. So the questions I need to ask myself are not “How have I benefited from privileges I didn’t earn?” or “How am I complicit in a system I can’t control?” but “How have I treated those around me?” “How do I make sure I’m being fair and equitable?”, “How do I treat those who look different than me?” That’s all I can control! How I act. How I treat others.

You are not a racist for simply being white in (an alleged) system geared for whites and passively benefiting simply due to your race at birth. Your actions make you racist or not, not your whiteness. You are not a misogynist for simply being born a man in a society (allegedly) geared towards men in a similar light. The onus can’t be just on one person to change an entire society! And certainly one individual can’t be asked to feel moral guilt over something they were never personally a part of creating!

Not to mention, we all have unearned privileges in life. Why is “privilege” such a dirty word? Even if it’s not racial or gender privileges, having a good family, friends, SES, health, etc… are privileges that can be unearned but given to us through our lot in life. I also believe while we should take a moment to reflect on them and be thankful and not take them for granted, we shouldn’t feel guilt simply for having better luck than the next guy. We can’t “do it all” so to speak.

So while I would love to have the power to take away all the inequality, racism, sexism, injustice etc… in the world, the Left needs to remember:

I am just one person!

Image result for branco cartoon white privilege

We All Have Our Challenges, So Why are Yours More Important?

It’s old news and stating the obvious by now: The Left loves to point out all the alleged obstacles women and minorities face unlike the “privileged” white men. They say that white men are the pinnacle of society, nothing holds them back while everyone else faces insurmountable challenges to equality and success in society. They label white men as “pale and stale” and in my assessment, label themselves as “brown and down” The Left also loves to capitalize on dwelling on past oppression, even when the pendulum has swung the other way going so far in many cases as reverse discrimination.

In the face of any backlash against these views, comes the argument that the “privileged”, those who are white, straight, conservative, men, or all of the above have no right to an opinion because they haven’t been in the so called “oppressed’s” shoes. Now, I have to admit one thing: They are right that we don’t have the same life experiences as people who are different from us. We can’t speak our opinions on their situations from our direct experiences if we’re not them. There are factors in our lives that determine how the world treats us, and our life circumstances that are beyond our control.

However, does that mean that an outsider to someone’s plight has no right to an opinion of their own or an outside assessment of the situation? Who says that the only people who are allowed to have an opinion about someone’s circumstances are the people in the middle of them? Yes, the insider knows intimately what they feel about it, but that same intimacy strips them of any impartiality about their situation in life. Someone may feel they live in an environment of rampant harassment, or discrimination and ostracism, but is one’s personal perception always 100% accurate? What if outside sources didn’t corroborate your perceptions? As I wrote about before many times, your reality is not always the reality! Of course, we should find out what makes them feel a certain way to see if there’s something we do need to change, but it needs to be done in a non-biased way by outside sources as well as insiders.

I want to propose another more unique point though to consider. Imagine some of the challenges women and minorities for the sake of argument are in fact, true as the Left says it. I’m sure some may be as society while not as dismal as the Left loves to paint it as, is also not a utopia by any means! Bias and prejudice intentional and unintentional, do exist, and I can agree that such inequality needs improvement. However, and here’s my new insight, why do your challenges matter more than mine? Why is it when the “majority”, whether it be white people, men, conservatives etc… say they have obstacles they face in life that need improvement they’re dismissed as over-privileged whiners?

Everyone has obstacles, challenges, inequality they experience in their life no matter what race, gender, sexuality, etc… they are. What you look like does affect how the world perceives you and treats you. No, I honestly can’t say I know what it feels like to face life as a black person. Men can’t know intimately what it’s like to be women in society.  However…. A black person doesn’t know what a white person faces in life either. A woman doesn’t know the social pressures men face that hurt them. A biological male (who is a trans woman) has never had to feel the fear a girl or woman does when a man enters her private spaces such as a women’s restroom. And why is it limited to just race or gender for instance as categories of challenges? What about a big overlooked factor? Socio-economic status. A poor white family faces challenges a middle class family of color may not despite racial differences.

Of course, many will ask, “What about stereotypes?” Well, what about them? Is it not a stereotype to assume all white people are privileged and snobbish due to some sense of racial superiority? Is it not a stereotype to assume men are insensitive towards women and think of women only as sex objects or property? Stereotypes do affect how we are treated, but there is a stereotype for EVERYONE, so why are the hurtful stereotypes you face more important then the hurtful stereotypes I do?

The answer to this double standard seems clear: selective outrage and virtue signaling. This has become a superficial war not about true equality and fairness, but which group can vie for the most attention in the “Oppression Olympics”. The excuse is “but we faced more struggles than you ever did!”, but isn’t any inequality and unfairness detrimental to society? Am I saying that women and minorities never faced unfair challenges? No! What I’m saying is why are some people’s obstacles deemed more important and noteworthy than others, to the point of invalidating theirs? To try to illustrate more clearly:

The family of color might face less opportunity related to racial discrimination, but does that negate the white family down the street who face lack of opportunity due to poverty?

A woman may have to be more wary of sexual assault in public than a man would, but a man has to be more wary of the accusation of such!

A white man may feel he faces his own challenges getting hired due to his gender and skin color too due to affirmative action programs and a rhetoric of “dismantling” his “privilege”…

A woman might feel constrained by unfair gender roles and expectations while men have more freedoms than her in some areas of life, but has she considered the ways in which men are expected to conform to their own set of rules?

Does it matter more having all your achievements doubted due to a “minority” race or gender than having all your achievements invalidated and deemed handed to you for the same exact reason only difference being you’re white or male?

The list could go on and on and on…. My point is, my counterpoints to consider don’t invalidate the original claims to obstacles by people of color or women or instance, but are presented to illustrate the point that no one is obstacle free, (even white men) and raise the question; why do the challenges of some matter more than the challenges of others? Why the selective outrage? And this doesn’t even begin to touch upon other factors like family upbringing and one’s health for example!

My last insight into this is everyone has their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages that can be due to things out of our control and circumstances like socio-economic status. There is no way that your life will be challenge-free no matter who you are or what you look like. So, why incessantly whine about it instead of accepting that life can be unfair and you have to find ways to work with your obstacles?

It’s a great thing when people try to change things for the better, other times though, you have to pick your battles and accept your life will be different from the next person’s whether it involves looking out for your personal safety more than others, realizing you don’t look like those around you most of the time, having to work harder than others to prove your merit, having to rise up out of poverty others don’t face, having your own crushing pressure to conform to what society expects of you as a man or woman, having to show others you’re NOT who they think you are among a myriad of other examples. Yes sometimes, you just have to suck it up and work around what holds you back…

Do I advocate for a lack of empathy for the challenges others face? Absolutely not! We should all be conscientious of how fortunate we are and how others may not be. Every one of us has their own life journey and struggles that go along with it, so why are your life challenges more important than mine?

Image result for conservative cartoon triggered SJW's