In the turmoil of today's world - a combo of pandemic AND America falling apart at the seams - I've been finding myself becoming more "difficult". Asking more questions, unapologetically stating opinions, and challenging the path of the conversation. I believe I was always like this, but maybe I'm leaning more into it. Am I a difficult woman?
When I say difficult, actually do I just mean another word, powerful? And not in an ego sense or a "boss babe" millennial way. Powerful as described as curious, emotionally intelligent, authentic, as well as compassionate and empathetic. Brave to step up and be me kinda powerful and articulate my values.
There's no question we live in a patriarchal world (for now), where powerful women are labeled difficult and likely to be challenged by the alpha male. I begin to ask myself, why? Why are men so afraid of powerful women?
To start with the construct of society is obvious, which teaches men to be the alpha. What does this even mean? Competition, territory, the simple act of believing they are always right. Mansplaining is in our vocabulary for a reason. Also, if you haven't seen this tedtalk by a transgender woman, who lived as a man for 50 years, she explains her own observations of being treated differently based on gender.
Then there is the media's portrayal of women. Perpetuating women are meant to be demure and that powerful women are at times even demonized. A damsel in distress is the narrative that most men have grown up with, that women need to be picked and we need their help. Most romantic comedies that we grew up with like this or this. And when powerful women don’t need their help because we’ve developed our own self-love, anti-cinderella syndrome, badass queen life, it confuses men. I've witnessed this confusion many times more recently and instead of the men asking questions, they tend to speak louder, with more alpha-ness. Which in my mind, there's a time a place for more fight and assertiveness, and then there's not. Why do some reach for attack versus understanding?
One friend described it as them not understanding "the goddess." Feminine energy, empathy, etc. I have to agree. Recently, I've had two different conversations with alpha males, both on different parts of the spectrum but making me think they are stuck in their own masculine bias. It was a zen eating class and the teacher asked about our relationship to food. One male participant said, "I eat for sustenance, I'm just a guy." As if being a guy related to how you liked food or not. Another time, describing a gallery, these two men said, "We're straight guys we don't know that place." I had to ask, what does sexual preference have to do with knowing an important gallery in your area? We all have had experiences like this and to be honest, I'm in awe how even gender is tied to our actions. The phrase "throw like a girl" I mean, are we still this primitive?
Perhaps we need to tell new stories where the gender divide isn’t the same as our grandparent's era and we aren't stuck to our own biases. As women, we can start teaching men how to treat us with equity. It’s time to create new standards of behavior as part of this 'new normal' world.