THE STRENGTH OF A WOMAN
By: Preleen Alexandria Pillay
They say that it is a man’s world. They say that women must know their place and that women must be strong and tough.
But what does that even mean and who are “they” to be saying this? Do they know what it is like to be a woman? Even if it is a woman who is saying it, why do they ask us to be something we already are?
It is impossible for one to respect strength if they do not first, understand what it truly means to be strong.
History books pour out knowledge to us about every strong women that ever lived, namely Joan of Arc and Marilyn Monroe. One was a fighter, soldier, and a noble woman. The other the beauty that was, the face of every young man’s epitomised dream of a woman. But we don’t remember Lady Godiva. Who? Exactly!
She was a woman of the twelfth century, who had long blond hair and something she stood for. She was ordinary and a congressman’s wife. Nobody in her time listened to her, her own husband did not take her seriously, and he did not even consider her proposition saying: “The only time I would listen to you is if you rode through town naked.” So … she did. Lady Godiva, the ordinary everyday woman changed perceptions with her act of courage. She stood up for woman of her time, allowing women of the future to be able to be heard.
So it causes one to wonder why it is that she is not the poster woman for strength? That is because people do not see strength in the average. Women bring different kinds of quality to everything they do; they work hard, they persevere because it is not easy to be a woman. In fact, it is tough to be a woman and then we are asked to be tough but we go through so much. Many men would say that they too go through situations. Yes, indeed everyone goes through situations, but females experience the worst kinds of treatment and that by the hands of males.
This was brought to the forefront by the #MenAreTrash movement. The basis of this movement is women saying we are tired of men treating females badly, undermining them, and discriminating and then blaming women for the things that happen to women. Undoubtedly, we do live in a patriarchal society where men have a lot of privileges and benefits due to their gender.
An equalist male, Avaran van Niekerk (21) whose a documentary producer, commented about this ideology saying, “You may have never harmed or mistreated a woman. But odds are that you know someone who has. How many women do you know that have harmed men? The numbers are not equal. Is it not relevant that the majority of our species is raping, abusing, killing, disenfranchising, undermining, patronising, policing, mansplaining and widely victimising woman?”
The fact that most of us survive mistreatment and continue to love, nature and to exist, is substantial in proving that females are strong as they are. This being without the need to be more masculine or use our feminity as a means to an end. It should be that way. The media should not be selling us this idea.
What it means to truly be a strong woman goes far and beyond what the media portrays. It is inner strength that we consider as feminine energy. Men and women are equal but our situations are not. Therefore, a female’s strength should be judged by her ability to be a female who is just herself.
Student, Sphume Madlala (22) said, “A strong woman builds; a strong woman supports. A strong woman loves and cares. A strong woman is every single person’s pillar of strength. A strong woman is every single woman that is able to reflect on life; that is able to guide, that is able to protect. A strong woman is a strong structure for every single person.”