Society » Culture, Gender: "Independence Can Be Empowering; But It Does Have A Price...."
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Independence Can Be Empowering; But It Does Have A Price....

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Just like any other hard-fought battle, there can be casualties. Most of them are worth it, but some of them... well, that is for you to decide.

  Don't Speak Unless Spoken To...

Around the middle to the end of the teen years, many girls are cultured through media, books, magazines, and by parents to be 'more agreeable' or 'rescued' by the man. They are conditioned to let the man take care of them and make the big decisions. In other words, do not disagree as much with men as you do with other females.

Even today, this concept holds reasonably strong. We are taught that men do not like strong, powerful women. How many times have you heard someone call a woman boss, senator, or other woman in a position of power a bitch, shark, or other derogatory term?

Unfortunately, in a bid to compete with other, more acceptable females in the romance game, this is where many women lose or tame down their bid for independence. They start seeing it as a bad thing, as if it is not a good trait to possess. After many experiences of agreeing with others, it becomes a habit. "It's up to you", "whatever you want", "I will let you decide"... these are all common phrases uttered, and who thinks much of this? We hear it all the time.

I know from my own past experiences that this may breed passive-aggressiveness. You can only repress so much of what is inside you, and then it must break free -- especially for "strong willed" or independent thinkers. My "sure, whatevers" became "sure, but I will make you pay." A shrug was next to torture for the person involved and the smile -- ooooh, do not get me started on that smile! That was almost a death threat!

What about those who are beaten, abused, and taunted into submission? The small look to the side at the person whose approval is so costly? The agreements and cowers, ulcers and eggshells? That utter dependence on another person for survival, physically or emotionally. It's pretty sad to see, and even harder to overcome. I have known many courageous women who were able to overcome the submission, but it was at a cost! These women had to break first to get stronger.

  Independence, Empowerment & The Price You Pay...

Don't get me wrong; there are many women who never lose their independence, who refuse to submit to society's ideals, or who are taught to be strong and to think for themselves. These are the lucky ones, and I was very lucky to have a friend that was strong and independent when I was not. All I had was that voice inside of me -- the one that never was heard.

Until I saw from her example that being independent did not mean what I was taught to believe. Being independent meant having the ability to stand on your own two feet, give an honest opinion, have your own thoughts and ideas, and to earn respect for being your own person. It also meant tempering it with commonsense, sometimes tact, being sensitive to others, and not just being argumentative. Most importantly, it meant respecting others rights to their own independent thoughts and feelings. I drew from that strength until I was independent in my own right.

Was it tough to break through? You bet! Did I cower inside the first few times I voiced my opinion? Oh, yeah! Did it feel good? Definitely! I learned the feeling of empowerment, not just by the tasks I could do, but by being my own person and voicing my own thoughts and opinions. I learned that making me count was the most powerful and rewarding feeling I have ever known -- even when another person did not agree.

I wrote essays, had educational debates with friends, argued... well, we will not bring that one up. Okay, I can argue until the cows come home, but another important lesson I learned was that I was arguing for the independent thought, not for who was right or wrong. I also learned that it's okay to agree to disagree!

Granted, for every action there is a reaction. I did have to pay for this. I lost some friends who were intimidated by my new found independence. I did lose a couple of boyfriends who did not like the fact that I was a strong person with my own thoughts and feelings. I was called a bitch by a few people who expected me to agree with them all the time. And, when I fixed a couple of guys cars... let's just say that they were very, very unhappy that a woman knew what to do when they did not. Okay, they did not care as much about the knowledge, but more about the fact that I was not scared to voice my opinion. They didn't like that I showed them that I could back up my opinion, and that it worked!

Now, I have a relationship where my knowledge of motorcycles is valued, and my mechanical abilities are praised. Now, my interesting fixes for odd problems are listened to, and sometimes fixes are tried. I do admit, however, that some of them are better off left untried... Trust me on that one! You should see my brilliant, yet broken bathroom sink -- broken after the wonderful fix that was performed, of course. It is not clogged anymore, though, as I got all of the change ($5.27 worth), earrings, hair, a few paperclips, a key, and a couple screws out of there! Of course, though, the elbow is a bit, um... unusually shaped and has a new opening... But, where was I?

Was the price I paid worth the independence? You better believe it! When more women stand up and allow their voices to count, then maybe, just maybe, the negative connotations to being an independent woman will be removed and respect will put in their place. So, as Shania Twain said, "Lets go girls!"


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Contributor: FieryRed

Very nicely done! I've noticed the very same things, about how children in general and women in particular are raised, and how difficult it can be to overcome that inhibition of one's true self, and how doing so will piss some people off but will be worth it--especially when you find the people who appreciate you for just that reason!



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