25 January 2017

Can I be a strong woman without being independent?

Can I be a strong woman without being independent? Nourish ME: www.nourishmeblog.co.uk
This post has been loitering around in my drafts (unwritten I might add, but with the idea there) for months, but it seems important now more than ever. The recent Women's Marches against Trump and his policy have seen a weird strike back, with a whole load of people asking 'why did their husbands let them out'. In a disturbing way it's a little reminiscent of the old classic, 'who let the dogs out?', so why are people asking that about women? Everyone who joined in on the marches is simply exercising their autonomous right to go out and do what they believe in, and yet it's caused such controversy.


You see, there's this obsession on the internet with the #girlboss, the strong independent woman 'who don't need no man' and it's more than a little damaging. Before I go on, I think these notions in themselves are brilliant. Women don't need a man to be complete, or to be strong. But it creates this weird atmosphere around the woman who does rely on someone else for support. 

When I was at uni I remember hearing somebody say 'yeah, she says she's a feminist, but she wears makeup and has a boyfriend, so it must be bullshit' about a fellow student of ours. And that's where the obsession with independence goes a little haywire. You're either alone, or you're 'let out' by the man in your life. There is no in-between. Except there is. And it's a big in-between. And it's been neglected and vilified. 

This avoidance of the in-between is as old-fashioned as the notion that a woman can have a career or be a mum. And there's only one option that a feminist would choose, right? Wrong. You can have both. The whole point of feminism is that you have the right to choose. Some women don't want to be mothers, and that's cool; in the same way, some women want a family, and that's okay too. 

It really all boils down to society's wish to categorise things. To label things. To wrap them up into neat little boxes and shut them away. Being a 'strong' woman must come through independence, or so it seems. But that's not necessarily true. Yes, it takes a lot of strength to be independent, but having people in your life that you rely on does not make you weak

I personally get so many comments about why I consider myself to be a strong woman and a feminist when I cook dinner for me and my partner. Seriously. And I have to explain that cooking is something that calms my anxiety and makes me happy. And that's okay. Except it's not in the eyes of the media and so many individuals. Cooking for your partner fits into the 'anti-feminist' (I use quotation marks because it's simply incorrect) agenda, so I can't be seen as feminist. Or as a 'strong woman' because I support my partner in this way. But I am. Feminism is about choice. I choose to do it because I enjoy it. And I'm still strong, even though I support my partner. The fact that I've got to a state where my mental health is good enough that I can choose to support my partner shows I am strong. And he supports me right back too.

It's not just him I rely on though. I have my sister too. She's kind of my rock. if I need a pep up, or some advice I go to her. And she makes it all okay again. But that doesn't make me weak. I simply couldn't be a strong independent woman. I don't exist alone, in a little bubble of just me. I make my own money, I take care of my pets and I make my own choices about everything in my life. But I'm not independent. And that's okay.

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12 comments:

  1. I completely see where you're coming from and totally agree! Thanks for sharing :)

    http://www.myclusterofthoughts.com/

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    1. I'm so glad that I'm not the only one that thinks this!

      Steph x

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  2. I think what Feminism means has been muddied a little bit, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who said 'I am not a feminist because I want to be a 1950s housewife' and I had to explain to her that all feminism means is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. That women should be free to do whatever they want without any judgement or unfair barriers placed in her way. It also encompasses the need for men to be vulnerable and be able to cry and be sensitive.

    You are a strong woman, I am a strong woman and I need people. You don't have to be strong and alone.

    Great post, I think it is really important to talk about so the word feminism can go back to what it means and not create a fear of hating other people.

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    1. Me too! Feminism seems to have been taken over by weird, outdated and extremist definitions in most peoples eyes. It's so upsetting to hear people think that they have to be excluded from the feminist movement because of things like wanting to be a housewife

      Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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  3. This post is so important Steph, thank you so much for writing it! I think that the attitudes of the people at your uni are such a misinterpretation of feminism - the movement is all about EQUALITY and as you rightly say, women having the opportunity to choose. And if you choose to wear makeup and cook dinner for your partner, that doesn't make you any less of a feminist! I do both of those things and I certainly still think of myself as a feminist! I certainly don't plan on being independent my whole life, I intend on getting married and living with my partner, but that won't stop me being a #girlboss!

    Abbey ❤️ www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

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    1. Thank you! It really is all about choice. Exactly! You can choose to have a family AND a career if you want. It's all about the individual. I'm so glad you agree with me

      Steph x

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  4. This is such a great post! I actually have something similar scheduled in for a post next month, so I'll be sure to add this to the end of my post as a 'suggested reading' type thing. :-) It bugs me to no end that a woman who wants a family or likes to cook and clean, or is in love with her partner, is seen as subverting feminism.

    Zoe Louise | http://bit.ly/zoelouiseblog

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    1. Aw thank you! It is so frustrating - feminism is all about choice, and I can choose to cook if I enjoy it

      Steph x

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  5. This is such a great post! Recently somebody made a comment on the fact that I drove me and my boyfriend on a day out, instead of him driving me. Apparently because I have a boyfriend, he's supposed to do all the driving? Em, definitely not (as much as I like him to drive simply because I'm lazy). People also make comments on me cooking for him and it annoys me so much!

    Lauren | Lauren the Daydreamer

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    1. Than you! That's so rude that someone would make that comment! I usually get ones because I don't drive and he does, ugh

      Steph x

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  6. "Can I be a strong woman without being independent?" Yes.

    I am a (Black) feminist and I believe that at the at of the day, it's about women having the right to choose how to live their lives instead of being oppressed by society's expectations.

    Chichi
    chichi-writes.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I agree! Feminism is all about choice for me

      Steph x

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I read each and every one of your comments, and really appreciate the time you've taken to add them! If you want or need a more immediate response then contact me through my twitter @stephhartley4. Thank you!