Article by Ava Marques
Taming the Shrew
Today I was called abrasive! Although it struck a nerve, it didn’t surprise me one bit. Why, simply because it was not the first time that such a word was used to describe my manner. In fact, the word abrasive was not the only adjective ever used -words such as bossy, controlling and aggressive added to the tongue lashing my accusers are willing to give. Of course, I believe from my standpoint, that those words were not an accurate representation of who I am.
Especially, as I choose to see myself as assertive and unapologetically unafraid to draw boundaries but, the truth is, not all of society is ready for a woman like me- resolute, honest and direct.
Before swearing my innocence, further investigation was needed to get a better understanding of what the term abrasive meant. And, in an effort to do so, I of course ran to my old friend Google for a definition. One definition stood out as it suggested a person with an abrasive manner shows little concern for the feelings of others or has a harsh demeanor. Wow! This definitely confirmed that this could not possibly be an accurate reference for a nice caring gal like myself. The refusal of acceptance of that label was also established by the fact that my intentions for my directness and honesty has never been deliberately designed to cause any discomfort but rather was geared to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of communication.
However, what really stood out to me, was the phrase used to demonstrate the word’s usage: “her abrasive and arrogant personal style won her few friends.” Hmmm! Was the use of the feminine personal pronoun ‘her’, a subliminal representation of the view society has of women who choose to be bold and stand up for what they believe in?
Are We Confident?
As progressive as some societies believe themselves to be, they are not ready for change! And, in spite of all of the singing along with Beyonce’s chants about women running the world, women have been called out for daring to go against the meek and mild personas which have been sculpted by a past of oppression or emphasis on gender roles. So, it is not uncommon for females who emit a certain air of confidence to face a backlash and a similar or even worse fate as I did.
This has become increasingly evident especially with the rise of women in leadership positions, as they are being labelled and perceived as having “manly” traits, therefore their femininity being questioned.
In my experience, there is no real difference between how men and women view an assertive woman! The difference only comes in the form of how the judge and jury respond to the commanding women. Of course, some females may react by gossiping or name calling.
In my opinion men react more negatively. Many men led by testosterone rebel in some form or attempt to match or dominate the energy of the perceived threat.
When intentions meet perception
In conclusion, this article is in no way, shape or form designed to discount or bash the individuals who believe in traditional values in terms of the manner a woman should hold. Instead, it intended to highlight the struggles that women who choose to be spirited and insistent often face. It would however be remiss of me not to acknowledge the emotional strength it requires to interact with someone who has no regard for hedging or linguistic dances. Although I cannot claim to be the mouthpiece of others who share similar direct traits as I do, to the husbands, boyfriends, sisters, colleagues, employers and whosoever we may come into contact with, all I can say is “We come in peace!”
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