1468536647.png

I was attending a meeting with a bunch of amazing women whose goal is to improve conditions for other women in the workplace. Yes, it is very union driven, yes, we advocate for equality, no we don’t man bash or burn our bras. Anyway, one of the women was sharing a story and in its telling she was using a word that for some reason was bothering me. Sometimes when this happens it’s more of a Princess Bride thing ‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.’

0*1PvbVpmiHkzFfkhz.jpg

This wasn’t one of those situations, it was more that she was using the word because we are so used to it being used to describe women dealing with things emotionally. The word she was using was ‘weak’.

Before going further let’s look at the definition of that word:

  1. Lacking the power to perform physically demanding tasks, having little physical strength or energy.
  2. Liable to break or give way under pressure, easily damaged.

Now let’s hit the thesaurus: delicate, puny, flabby, flaccid, debilitated, feeble, frail, sickly – you get the idea.

Why the English lesson you ask? Simple, this woman was talking about women and using weak as the descriptor, ‘women should be allowed to be weak, have weak moments.’ Being puny, flabby, frail and easily damaged is not at all what she meant. (OMG it is a Princess Bride thing.) She was talking about visibly expressing emotions. In the course of what she said she unwittingly changed ‘weak’ to ‘vulnerable’ and I thought that was a better word:

Vulnerable – exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. Coming from the Latin vulnus – wound; vulnerare – to       wound.

So then again maybe not.

Expressing emotions, being emotional doesn’t mean easily damaged or weak. I think it is time we start changing the words we use, especially the ones we use unconsciously.

Women are not the weaker sex!

quote-to-call-woman-the-weaker-sex-is-a-libel-it-is-man-s-injustice-to-woman-mahatma-gandhi-82-26-53

Yes, I said it. Oh, I’m not going to deny that generally men are physically stronger, but we all know that’s not what we are actually talking about. It is entirely possible that is where the phrase started from, a general physical descriptor, somewhere along the way though it came to mean so much more.

It became a way to limit woman’s participation in society. We weren’t allowed to learn on an equal footing and so we were considered intellectually inferior. We were restricted in the types of employment we could get, limiting our independence, meaning we were rather dependant on men for financial survival – therefore less capable which meant weaker. Women process things differently – there are research papers and books galore proving this – but because a lot of that processing involves emotions, men say we are weaker.

10511874-3x2-340x227

I know I am not the only one who cries at really irritating moments. There was this one time I was sparring with this guy and he clocked me one in the head. I freaking belted him till I was pulled out. I was fine until someone asked me if I was okay and I burst into tears. I wasn’t hurt, I hadn’t lost – not that it was a fight, I was just processing and the adrenaline and frustration of him not being censured for breaking the rules resulted in me losing it momentarily. Which just made it all worse because I came down on myself for being weak. I say again, I wasn’t hurt and I’d gone hard at the guy after – there is nothing weak about that. Perception is though that tears equals weakness.

What a crock of shit. Emotions are powerful and can be overwhelming. What they are not, is a weakness. So how about we consider that women have inherent strength due to the fact we were created to process the full tsunami impact of emotions (oh and go through childbirth) and men were not. In fact, that men have determinedly refused to allow emotions a place has been proved to be damaging, hence the push in recent years to say it’s okay to get in touch with what is going on inside.

22Our-greatest-glory-is-not-in-never-falling-but-in-rising-every-time-we-fall22-Confucius.png

Women have been restricted, persecuted, belittled, abused and debased and we still keep pushing forward. We then get back on our feet and take the next step towards where we want to be, with tear tracks marking our faces as we do so. This is strength. The ability to endure, to overcome. To keep raising our voices even whilst being told to hold our tongues, or just plain ignored.

So let us go forward now, no longer saying women need to be allowed moments of weakness or vulnerability when what we are referring to are periods of assessment, processing and growth.

article-2266092-00505C871000044C-374_468x560.jpg

Embrace all the differences, all the moments and reach out a hand when you need to, knowing it isn’t weakness, it is simply understanding what it is you need as you journey through life.

Women are resilient, determined, creative, instinctive, smart, driven and powerful, and we can do all of it whilst laughing, crying and experiencing every emotion in between.