Why the Woman Who Does Not Require Validation from Anyone Is the Most Feared Individual On the Planet

Originally published at the Huffington Post

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I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve been told that I am “too assertive”. It starts off with friendly smile and a seemingly caring comment about how what I am saying is correct, but how I express it is the problem. I have thought a lot about how I can alleviate my methodology of communication so I do not come off as “assertive” and I’ve wondered about why it is even a problem in the first place. It took me a long time to realise that my confidence is not the problem; society is.

As a woman, I have always noticed how my words bear a heavier burden than my male colleague or counter-part. They call me “feisty” and they label him as “confident”. It is a mystery why women today are still characterised by their emotion and not their rationality. In her fantastic book “Delusions of Gender” Cordelia Fine writes about how discrimination against women extends far beyond something we read about in history books, It is something blatant and evident even in our modern, developed societies. Despite the fact that there is no solid, irrefutable evidence to suggest that men and women are wired differently, the world continues to push gender stereotypes down our throats and we suffer collectively as a result.

“Well-behaved women rarely make history”

Women in general are so undermined in today’s world and harassed from every corner- the beauty industry, archaic traditions, media and the government. It is very hard for women to be confident in their own skin. Not only do most women feel physically inadequate, but we are constantly silenced and trivilaised. The great documentary “Miss Representation” highlights how women are terrorised from their teen years onto their adulthood through the realms of mass media and popular culture.

Some have asked me why I chose to focus on women in particular when addressing the idea of validation. My answer is that in a world where 1 in 3 women are victims of physical or sexual violence, 53% of young girls feel unhappy with their bodies and 65% have eating disorders, women suffer the greatest amount of insecurity, low self-esteem and a general lack of confidence. There are some individuals who argue that women’s development has reached its culmination in the western world. Such claims are too quixotic considering ofrecent studies that reveal one in three women across Europe have been physically or sexually abused. Women struggle globally and the threat of abuse seems inescapable no matter where you live in the world.

In our global community, when a woman becomes an authoritative figure- it scares the world. She is no longer giving into traditional patriarchal notions of submissiveness, she does not require validation, and subsequently she becomes one of the most feared individuals on the planet. So much value is placed on notions of “modesty” and “ladylikeness” and through gender-role allocation- women who do not fit into the straightjacket of what is considered as “womanly”- are considered as too “feisty” and in need of some taming.

More people than not attribute a woman’s assertiveness to an emotional response and not her confidence. Even an individual as authoritative as Hillary Clinton is discriminated against and treated as an emotional being who is defined through her husband and not by her intelligence and incredible skills as a leader. I mean for goodness sake, if the U.S Secretary of State cannot demand the respect of the world, what hope is there for the rest of us women?

It is clear that society applies the standard of confidence disproportionately to women and many women as a result fear exerting power in the case that they come across as “intimidating”. The circular cycle of women being told that they are “emotional” and they in turn acting out this non-evidence based claim and essentially becoming purveyors of it- is a tangible problem. Indeed, confidence is a genderless emotion yet women in positions of power are still characterised as irrational serial complainers who cannot escape their inherent “nagging” nature, while their male counter-parts are admired and even worshipped for their confidence. Most people have heard of the ex-President of Argentina, Juan Domingo Peron (there is even an ideology named after him) yet less know of his wife Eva Peron, who was actually one of the greatest female orators politics ever saw. Additionally, women leaders are judged more often on their looks and fashion choices than their astute abilities as authoritative figures.

My view is that a woman who goes through life without taking any notice of society’s perception of her becomes the most feared individual on the planet. This is because patriarchy wants to reduce her to an insecure, submissive female and as long as she rejects the notion of validation, she is perceived as a threat to the status quo.

“It is time for women to stop being politely angry” – Leymah Gbowee

I want to point out that women need not be strong in order to inculcate fear- this is not the aim of rejecting notions of validation. The fear is a by-product of our society that is so seeped in patriarchal culture. Historically, women have been treated as second-class citizens and up until the first wave of feminism; this trend dominated much of the world. This is why a woman who does not require validation is so thoroughly feared because she challenges the age-old male privilege and patriarchal notions. So many men in my life have tried to “fix me”; they viewed me as a “fiery” being who is in need of taming. I want all women of the world to throw out notions of validation and act whichever way they want regardless of how they are perceived. The best thing we can do is be comfortable and happy in our skin and in this way no industry, system or group of people can subvert our energies or try to break us down.

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. jennifer says:

    AMEN.

  2. Merdeka says:

    The leaders of the world are psychopaths who are going to kill us all. Nobody should be like Eva peron or Hilary Clinton, mass murder isn’t a way to defy gender stereotypes.

    Copying men or acting aggressive just to show men you can be as obnoxious as them is still letting men control you & defing yourself by them.

    1. Wow, Merdeka.. I suggest you re-read this eloquent article and take something positive and inspiring from it. Happy NY!

  3. Penny says:

    To Merdeka
    I feel as if you missed the point of this whole article:

    “Despite the fact that there is no solid, irrefutable evidence to suggest that men and women are wired differently..”

    So please explain to me how it would be ‘copying men’ when every human being is capable of such things. Furthermore it’s funny how you assume that if any woman were to be obnoxious/act in an aggressive manner, it would be for validation from men???? Your stupidity astounds me. Please go and review your life :))))

    1. I second that, Penny!

  4. April says:

    Many occasions I’ve been told to that I was too upset or too aggressive about things I thought that I had the right to be upset about and mostly by men. I always assumed it was because they didn’t want me to have the burden of anger but it never occurred to me that it was a method of control or to avoid being accountable! I’ve been totally waiting for someone to tell me that my anger was justified but I DON’T EVEN NEED THAT! I have to trust MYSELF! Uh, WHOA!

    A friend of yours used to go to our school and brought us here for help with a class final paper. This is so AWESOME! Mahalo!!!

  5. Kadena Tate says:

    Mohadesa, I thoroughly enjoyed this article. Thank You for taking an extremely complex subject and communicating how many of us feel with confidence, clarity and brevity. I wish you continued success in both your personal and professional endeavors

    Although the advice of my parents that “leadership is the only acceptable path”, was of tremendous benefit, it took me a very long time to totally embrace its nuances. Now, at the age of 49, I am finally comfortable in my skin, excited that I am presented with opportunities to be a catalyst of change and thankful that I am able to experience the sacred spark of the Divine made manifest. It is a daily journey but thank goodness, we are on the path of courageous action + spiritual truth.

  6. Laurie Gagne says:

    Gloria Steinem wrote about how “women must always maintain a certain degree of self-hate so as never to empower themselves fully.” In other words, cultural norms of beauty serve a distinct purpose. Think of the energy a woman would have for herself, for her chosen work and causes, for sisterhood, if a large portion of our minds and selves was not distracted by these poisonous comparisons to impossible standards of beauty. As women age and become non-competitors in this pointless game, many feel more peace and power than they have ever felt. I know I do. The same is true for cultural norms of “niceness” and other so-called “womanly” qualities. I’ve stopped trying to protect people from the impact of my own personal powerfulness. I refuse to “tone it down.” Free yourselves.

    1. kadenatate says:

      Laurie, this is so good. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I feel the exact same way, you just said it in a wildly wonderful way. LOL . Blessings to you, Kadena

  7. Karen says:

    Wow. Just today i was thinking about “behaving” myself and piping down and that quote just caught my eye. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I will continue to be fiery. Burn baby burn!

  8. Tessie DeVore says:

    Great read and mostly agree! Facts on Eva Peron are wrong though. She was, and still is, more well known and respected than her husband was. Plays, Broadway plays and movies have been made about her life. She was no saint – but her legacy is respected.

  9. An amazingly written piece. I connected to it deeply and am glad to see my exact thoughts have been written down so concise and precise. Be true to yourself, even should you intimidate those around around you.

  10. Great article, excellently written and summarised my thoughts and feelings exactly! I connected to the words deeply. It’s important to be yourself regardless of gender or fear of intimidating others.

  11. Rebeca says:

    Hallo dear strong woman Mohadesa Najumi,
    I’m surprised in a really good way about this article.We met tonight in a store.
    Hope you remember me “Heaven”.
    I loved your article and read the comments.I totally agree and I think women can be so much more and yet still “intimidating” when they use their full set of skills with confidence.I think confidence is like the glue that puts our skills together in a way that makes us a complete being.Our levels of confidence are different everyday because of that need of validation,appreciation and acceptance for who we are as individuals.
    There is much more to discuss about this subject.
    Glad to have met you ,
    Rebeca

  12. We can all learn from this.
    Always be Yourself, and make no excuses for that, unless you feel you need too !
    In my world, women are equally admired but they probably hear it less.

  13. 🙂 Good read. Highfive

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