Saturday, December 4, 2010

Strong and not strident: Inner conflict and strength

“As a woman who was raised in a society where it is implied that women should be agreeable and amenable, where speaking up for yourself can label you 'difficult', I personally have found it difficult to do that very thing. Why is it important to have personal boundaries and make sure they are not crossed? More importantly, how can we keep them while coming off strong and not strident?” (http://goop.com/newsletter/107/en/)

Monica Berg, a spiritual leader and writer, in the recent Goop newsletter, asked this question. In addition to her own response (see link above) stating, "Our own beliefs are only threatened when we don't know what they are,” several seemingly very intelligent and well-spoken women responded to her thought-provoking dialogue, as well. My brain turned as I pondered the different responses, which I sincerely appreciated: the importance of integrity, how we are "molded" by our environments, the successes of standing up for oneself, definitions of "strident", our fear of assertiveness and the implications of it, and just the complexity of the issue for women.

What I find strange is that amongst all of those intelligible women's reactions, I never heard how the intriguing nature of the question itself makes us wonderful and insightful creatures? How that we, as women, are nurturers by physiology, and yet we conquer ourselves and our environments to become powerful and meaningful products of society and of the world through the exact struggle we are attempting to conquer. Our bodies and minds are developed for the purpose of caring for and nurturing others. Yet, we are thrust into a world of situations in which our nurturing instincts are challenged, we are put to tests of integrity and mindfulness, and still we hold onto that which makes us feminine and individualize our patterns and decisions.  We still manage to care and nurture those whom we desire to, including ourselves.

I am proud that this question is even pondered. I am proud that a woman faces this issue. Why? Boundaries specific to our gender, and more importantly ourselves, are an important topic of discussion. We have personal boundaries and social boundaries that are individual and then we have those that are socially “mandated” to identify, define personally, define socially, and apply within a certain context. Complex? Yes, this is true (an understatement, really..haha). But, isn’t it the very complexity that we struggle with that makes us so special, that makes our struggle so unique, and that will empower us beyond the stratospheres of politics and elected roles. Isn’t it this very question that sets our facilities of communication and our desires aside from our male counterparts? Isn’t it true that we cannot know what our own beliefs are in a society if we are not knowledgeable about “society” itself? Definitions are not constant standards. They are malleable by context.

It is the search, the questions, the inner-reflection, the hope, the viability of integrity, and the mistakes that we learn from that give us our power and strength. It is the daily fight a woman has within herself and within her society that makes us so strong and promising. It is the decision to personally challenge the past and tread unknowingly through the present with our heads held high that makes us so grand. It is the choice to become and not just be that gives us our strength and helps us determine our boundaries.

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