By J.A. Moore
You don’t have to look far on social media to see uplifting posts about women taking back their power, as strong, intelligent forces to be reckoned with. But in an odd dichotomy, the same sources through which we receive these positive reinforcements are the same ones that shoot us in the face with false narratives about what “womanhood” means.
Society tells women to be educated, but not too smart–we don’t want to intimidate our male counterparts. And if you’re looking for a black man, studies show the more educated you are, the less likely it is that you’ll find a black male partner on the same level or get married. I’ve known this sad fact since I was in college.
Under the system of patriarchy, the code of conduct for women is centered around the opinions of men. Women are not encouraged to seek authenticity and self-actualization in the same ways men are. While women having professional careers has became more normative over the past 50 years, young girls are still being socialized to become servants to men rather than individuals.
We are told to focus on our crafts and careers, but to be prepared to give it all up for our future husbands and children–even if we don’t want to. We learn that our future husbands should always take the lead, as we put up with their destructive behavior–even if he doesn’t have his wife’s or the family’s best interest at heart. Many Christians believe that women should follow their husbands and consider them the head of the household. But those who have this mentality seem to forget the biblical backing that’s imperative in order for that to work. Men are not supreme beings–they’re human.
Women are also expected to look flawless at all times– but why? It’s like there are mixed messages saying that an impeccable physical appearance is necessary in order to keep a man–despite knowing a woman cannot “keep” a man who doesn’t want to be kept– or to initially attract and secure a man. The emphasis on women maintaining perfect looks also contradicts our desire to have partners value us beyond our appearances. The pressure for women to be pretty is so pervasive that we’re even expected to ensure men are attracted to us when we already have a significant other. A woman putting in effort to look good shouldn’t be about catering to men–it should be about making herself feel good.
Then there’s the notion that having a man choose you to marry is the ultimate goal–no matter how much of a bum, liar, abuser, cheater or dog he may be–before it’s “too late”. Because if you’re a woman over the age of 30 and you’re not dating, engaged or married then something must be wrong with you or you’re simply not desirable. If you ask older women, they’ll tell you, “Oh, we’ve all been there and done that baby. All men cheat–it’s a part of life .” Personally, I refuse to let a broke down, lost, insecure clown take me off my God-given path.
Now listen. I’m a devout Christian, but I also have a potty mouth. So to all of the aforementioned I say, “Miss me with that bullshit!” I’m sick and tired of getting trapped in my womanly feelings (just talk to my journal–she’s sick of it too). The reality is, I’m falling prey to societal expectations of what I should be. But here’s the twist: society doesn’t even know what I should be. Look at all the mixed messages I’ve presented.
When us women muster up the courage to say, “You know what? I’m me–not perfect in the slightest–but I’m an evolving creature, trying to make it in this beautiful thing called life”, we’re often looked down upon; if not looked down upon, we’re side-eyed or even pitied. Thus, the cycle of playing by the rules continues.
So I encourage all women, no matter what aspect of life you’re in, your age, or your relationship status, to truly see your worth outside of attention from men, and other external sources like superficial friendships, social media, status, career, education, family, etc. At the end of the day, your internal sense of worth is all that matters.