Saturday, December 3, 2011


Men are often encouraged to take up more space.
Women are often encouraged to take up less space.

Men "should" be big and muscular.
Women "should" be petite and willowy.

Men "should" speak up.
Women "should" stay quiet.

Men "should" be bold.
Women "should" be soft-spoken.

Men "should" be aggressive.
Women "should" be kind. And smile.

I find myself regularly torn between wanting to be a culturally acceptable woman and wanting to be who I am.

Sometimes, I want to take up less space. I want to float into a room in a wispy gown. I want to be shorter than my boyfriend. I want to weigh less. I want to be less. I want to blend in. I want to be quiet. I want to let men dominate the conversation, the room, the hallway, the gym, the road, the political forum, the church, and the sports arena. And they do. I'd rather just take up less space because that requires a lot less work.

At the same time, I want to take up more space and I end up feeling bad for it.
I want to enter a room confidently. But somehow that's un-feminine.

I want to be taller and weigh more than men, especially when I feel threatened or afraid when I'm alone with them. But somehow, I'd be too big.

I want to be more. But somehow that's asking too much.

I want to stand out. I want to speak my mind. But then I'd be labeled a "controlling bitch." Because that's just what culture calls women in power.

I want a place in the conversation, the room, the hallway, the gym, the road, the political forum, the church, and the sports arena. But then I'm just being too needy.

I'd rather dare to take up more space because that demands more of who I was made to be. But unfortunately that is challenged every step of the way.

It seems difficult to "win" in this model and I'm not sure what winning would look like. Recently, I've been watching and reading a lot about gender. I'm better educated and more frustrated than ever. The most important resource I've encountered recently, is the film Miss Representation.

You really should watch this movie.
Because we can't be what we can't see.

I think the "moral of the story" is regularly assuring myself that it's okay to take up as much space as I need. It's not okay by everyone's standards (good thing I'm not a super-model, a politician, a movie star, or any female figure in public view). But it's okay by my standards. On a good day. Sometimes.

I can have a voice.
I can challenge authority.
I can dance and move and play.
I can lift weights.
I can stand up and speak out.
I can write a book. And be proud of it.
I can wear what I want.
I can be a size 10.
I can eat what I want.
I can be proud of myself.
I can take a compliment without disagreeing with the person giving it.
I can have confidence in my skills and abilities.

I can hold my ground as a woman--proud of the space I embody--even when it feels like I'm wrong for doing so.

Because as Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better."

I. Know. Better.


Anthony said...

I appreciated this blog. The video had a powerful message. ...