On my way to work, over tired, annoyed that it had snowed over night, I turned on the radio for refugee. Instead of music, a guy was talking about women drivers. Usually the moment I hear talk, I tune to another station; I crave music in the morning. This topic, however, halted all thoughts. “Women drivers are the worst! They are too emotional and make all the wrong decisions while driving. They even apply make up as they drive. I hate it,” he concluded. “Well shit,” I replied as if he was sitting right next to me. Thanks to the weather and the time change, this guy had found me in just the right position–completely vulnerable to an absolute pissed off reaction. Do people still think stupid sexist thoughts like this? Still in 2014? I told myself to breathe; he’s just ignorant and more importantly not in my car. However, throughout the day and week, it kept coming back to me. This connection between women and emotions. Women can’t be great leaders because of their emotions. Women can’t rule a country because they are too emotional. And now apparently, I can’t even operate a vehicle because I may end up having an emotional breakdown and crash my car into a poor unemotional, unsuspecting man.
We are sex objects. However, we can’t be smart because our emotions get in the way of us making clear decisions. Most days, none of this gets to me. However, that day this comment caught me when my emotions were running at higher levels. So there it is, I have emotions. In fact, I will admit that once a month I can get emotional enough to need a good cry or a challenging run, swim, or hike. Does this make me someone who can’t make sound decisions? I mean, I would gladly, take sick leave and take care of me during that one week every month. I would gladly hand over my symptoms to a man who is oh so strong and smart. Now, I am not one to sit in pity–anymore, anyway, but I do want to discuss a few experiences that an emotional woman is strong enough to stand up to. In the past month, I have listened to a friend who is battling cancer and another who faced losing her babies too early. Watching these “emotional” women live through, no, prove their emotional strength has given me reason to write this post. It is for these and so many of my beloved friends and family whom I write this post.
What does it really mean to be a woman in 2014? Are we simply our emotions? What about all those moms out there who make a million decisions a day about their children’s safety, health, and education? Are emotions getting in the way of their ability to think and live? Or is it that men and women who aren’t mentally healthy the ones who can’t make clear decisions?
I teach my students that women are equal to men, but how many are actually seeing examples of this in media? I, too, struggle to define the female identity because all the muddled images that are supposed to represent my identity flood my mind from the internet, magazines, television, and films.
Perhaps in my experience a woman is…
- a daughter
- strong: physically and emotionally
- courageous like MB and KH and PG and MWA
- funny like Margaret Cho and Ellen Degeneres
- nurturing like my mom who can nurture by simply sitting next to me when I’m sick
- logical like my friend EBS who always reminds me to look to logic when I’m leading with emotions.
- loving, compassionate
The more descriptors I add, the less they become about being a woman and more about a human being. You see in my family, I have women who have led me, guided me, supported me. However, many of the men in my family are the nurturers. My grandfather is an example. My husband is an example. My brother is an example. My uncles are examples.
What bothers me about this comment is only partly because it is a flat-out judgement of all women; it bothers me more that he implied being emotional makes one lesser than. Emotions are a part of human nature. Why is it in our society we are not allowed to show them to show strength? I believe my emotions, my cheese, my ability to love and declare it right when I feel it–whether is it for my family or my friends–makes me brave, courageous, strong. It means I’m not going to hide behind logic everyday. It means I am going to share the true me in every situation. This trait is what allows meaningful, deep, fabulous relationships in my life. I refuse to look at it as negative and no, it doesn’t make me a bad driver. In fact, it makes me a smart and kind driver. One who calls the ambulance when she sees an accident happen. One who pulls over and helps the driver who got his car stuck in a ditch.
Obsessing over this man’s comments reminded me of the words of a female reverend who is a talented teacher. A few years ago, I walked into a church called Unity Church that finally felt like a place that aligned with my spiritual beliefs. Reverend Cherie often spoke about how each of us, women and men, have in us the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine; it’s keeps us balanced. Divine Feminine was the part of us that was nurturing, compassionate, restoration. Divine Masculine was the part of us that was clear, focused, and logically. She often said that both divinities existed in each of us so that we could make clear decisions and be compassionate. However, just because we have it in us doesn’t mean that all of us tune in to these divinities. It’s up to each of us to know how to access both the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine. So perhaps, it’s not that some men aren’t emotional and some women are too emotional, but rather that these same humans aren’t tuned into both divinities.
Although the first emotion I felt that day in my car was anger towards this ignorant man on the radio, I am actually grateful for the opportunity he provided me with–one that allowed me to create by using my emotions as the foundation! So thank you ignorant radio speaker.