“Why would you want to look like that?”
It baffled her each time she heard it, especially coming from another woman. Far from wanting to be more masculine, she strove to add to her existing femininity—that of a strong, healthy, capable body.
“Why would you not want to look like this?” she shot back as she walked away.
The echo of metal on metal matched her thoughts. With 255 lbs at her feet, she grasped the bar.
This is my brand of feminism. My rebellion. My refusal to be seen as you want me to be seen. This is me being seen for who I am.
This is your discouragement shattering under the weight of my determination. Your disbelief proven unfounded. Your insecurities reflected back to you instead of projected onto me.
This is my silent refusal to participate in the charade of your dialogue with one of two possible outcomes: the outcome in which you are right, and the outcome in which I am wrong.
Most debates have no winner. The purpose of most debates is to soothe the person on the other end who can walk away feeling accomplished at having been so open-minded.
No longer a glass ceiling, she felt the bonds of an invisible cage surrounding her. Society had granted permission to rise to the top, yet still insisted she stay within the limits of the acceptable. Sit at the table, but speak no controversy, speak with a tone that questions its own right to be heard. Better yet—do not speak at all.
So much for a free country.
Is your freedom my freedom? Is your pain my pain? Have your assumptions like cookie cutters reshaped your perception of my experiences? Of me?
Is your flag my flag? Are those my stars scattered across your field of Navy Blue? Which of these stripes belongs to me, or do they all belong to you?
Am I sensitive or am I jaded? Am I irrational or am I angry? Am I that stereotype for feeling, or am I simply what you made me?
She was the one who refused to take minutes at meetings filled with male faces, peering at her as if it were her duty or at least it as if it wasn’t theirs. With each refusal, eyes rolled and thoughts crossed faces. Overly sensitive. Angry feminist. Words unspoken yet loud enough to be heard.
I am not servant to your belief system. I am not here to enable your blindness to truth. I am not here to spare your feelings at the detriment of my own.
I am not here to be weak so that you can feel strong. I am here to take my power back. I am here to lift myself up. I am here, not to grow strong, but to celebrate that I am strong already.
This is my brand of feminism. This is my rebellion. This is my powerlift.
(C) 2021 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.