I despise stereotypes.
I hate them like poison because they are the tool of oppressors. As a black woman (let's skip the politically-correct and mealy-mouthed "African American," shall we?), I have spent my entire life living down racial stereotypes. I refuse to be defined by the color of my skin.
I refuse to be confined by the color of my skin to certain foods or types of music or churches or neighborhoods or hobbies or friends or lovers or anything else. Freedom means the existence of options. Nobody takes my freedom away from me.
Beyond that, I detest stereotypes because I'm an intellectual snob and stereotypes are the product of sloppy, lazy thinking.
People are people are people. We are what we are.
And so it is with gender stereotypes, like the question of ANGRY woman versus QUIET woman.
This is not a simple question. If you want to know which of these best describes me, for example, the answer is "Yes!"
Who are you, Dawn? is what you really want to know here. I can answer it by telling you who I am from my own perspective, what it is like to live inside my own skin. Or I can tell you who I am from other people's perspective, what it is like to be around me, to know me, to live with me, based on what they tell me and how they respond to me.
It will be a very rare individual for whom those two portraits of self are an exact match.
My children, who probably know me better than anybody, tell me that I am very laid back and totally practical. It's one of the things that my kids love about me. I am not very excitable, I tend to think first instead of just reacting, and that makes it safe for them to tell me things. Mom doesn't sweat the small stuff. She speaks softly and, when she's mad, she speaks even more softly -- a terrifying prospect, or so I'm told.
I guess all of this makes me a quiet woman, right?
Not so fast. Inside my heart and head is a maelstrom. I am indignant about the many injustices I see around me. I am impatient with meaningless convention, especially when it is used as a substitute for meaningful connection. I grow easily annoyed with wilfull stupidity and I do not suffer fools gladly. Misinformation infuriates me. Hypocrisy makes me seethe.
I guess all of this makes me an angry woman, right?
Wrong again. All of this simply makes me a human woman -- sometimes quiet but never silent, sometimes angry but never vicious, sometimes discreet, always passionate.
There is no such thing as a woman (or a man) who is always angry, just as there is no such thing as a woman (or a man) who is never angry, no matter how quiet she may be.
And, for the record, we experience a lot of other emotions, too, so that we are often neither quiet nor angry. I don't know any women who are that dull.
ANGRY woman or QUIET woman?
That's what makes us so awesome. Women are all that and then some.
Dawn, I love the essay. my favorite line: I'm an intellectual snob and stereotypes are the product of sloppy, lazy thinking. I'm not sure you have to be a intellectual snob to see this about stereotypes :-)
The humanity of our emotions......it's a beautiful way to frame it. Blessings
|1421 days ago|
Loved it Dawn!!
|1422 days ago|
Ditto Ana and Dawn! Love it! So right on!
|1422 days ago|
I love this post, Dawn!!! Well said! Both.... Neither... :)
|1423 days ago|