Confession: I don’t like the term “strong woman,” because I think the only reason one would say strong before woman is because women aren’t associated with strength. Yet, there isn’t anything about navigating in the world as an individual that identifies as a woman, that doesn’t require STRENGTH (navigating daily discrimination, catcalling, etc.).
I am not strong AND a woman, I work in the world as a woman, this requires heavy lifting, this requires flexibility. This requires assumed responsibilities of doing others’ emotional labor. And that isn't even considering the intersectionality of it all, which for me personally is the multiplicity of being a Latinx cis queer woman of color, who is a 1st generation immigrant, all of which together make a specific context, and make me have to carefully navigate around varying injustices.
And I get it, I get it, when you are telling me that you’ve grown up with strong women, a sentiment that is floating around several circles lately, you are trying to say you grew up with women that took up space no matter what the obstacles. But if you aren’t known as a “strong woman” than are you a “weak one”? What exactly is being weak, and why do you get to define who is strong or weak?
Even to the most reductive level of what a woman is thought to be, a nurturer, is a ridiculously strong thing to be, because it is assumed you will take care of your feelings and everyone else’s feelings, making sure everyone is ok all the time. Being a holder of all the feelings, and especially making sure to never stop stroking the fragile male egos that surround you. On the flip side, a woman whose very existence questions the gender role of women also requires incredible strength. Just her existence is in direct opposition to the rules, so she will not go unquestioned, constantly having to explain why she should be allowed to be, herself.
There simply isn’t anything about being a woman that doesn’t require strength. There isn't a day that I don't find myself calling on my Peruana ancestors and Selena Quintanilla to give me fuerza to keep fighting just to take up the space that my whole presonhood requires.