“Are you always this loud?”
“I feel like you are being aggressive.”
“You are crazy.”
“You need to calm down.”
“I just don’t think that’s very ladylike.”
“You seem bitchy.”
I’ve heard it all. I’m too loud, too excitable, too aggressive, too bitchy, too sensitive. The truth is that I am a lot of those things, but I’m not actually “too” much of any of them.
The problem (for them) lies in the fact that I am a woman who communicates directly. I’m not overly apologetic, and I do not preface everything I say with “I’m sorry, but…” and “I don’t mean to sound bitchy, but….” I’m not rude. I’m not unkind. I’m just not going to dance around the issues so that I come across as polite or sweet. The patriarchy can kiss my ass.
I’ve been told that I “talk like a man” more times than I could ever count, and they were not referring to my affinity for the word “fuck” — they were talking about how I say what I need to say when I need to say it. I make my thoughts, feelings, opinions known. I don’t just go around bullying people into conversation or debate, but I don’t sit idly by when I’ve been wronged or when I think I deserve better.
If I want a raise, I will ask for one. If you hurt my feelings, I will let you know how and why, so we can be done with it and move forward. Since when is being honest and direct a “man” thing? I don’t attribute those character traits to any gender, but it seems when they are assumed by someone who identifies as female, that the person becomes “bitchy” or “pushy” or “rude.” To be clear, I can be those things (so can you) especially when I’m being negatively stereotyped, but I don’t fall into that category more than any other imperfect human.
I’m not too bold or too loud or too aggressive. I’m passionate as hell. I’m passionate about so many things from mothering my amazing kids to social justice issues to reading awesome books to finding the best cup of coffee the West Coast has to offer (Stumptown). I’m passionate about intersectionality, feminism, equal rights, and paid parental leave. (The patriarchy really dislikes a passionate woman because passionate women get shit done.)
I’ve been told since I was a child that I need to “calm down” or “relax.” It took a long time for me to realize those were not my burdens to bear, because I used to be so self-conscious of my voice being too loud or my laugh being awkward or appearing too hyper among friends, and then I became an adult and realized those qualities helped me to achieve my goals, to be heard in a crowd (literally and figuratively) and to make other people laugh. And you know what? I fucking love making other people laugh. I’m not too hyper; I’m witty and sarcastic. I’m not too loud; I am bold and brave.
And I damn sure do not need to calm down, and nobody better tell me to calm down, because pursuing your passions means not calming down. It means moving forward full-steam a-fucking-head. I no longer allow people to patronize me for personal qualities that I am proud to take ownership of. If you tell me to calm down and relax with condescension, I will not be a shrinking violet. I will tell you to fuck off. (I communicate “like a man,” remember?) I can’t keep calm and smash the patriarchy, so it’s not an option for me to change, nor do I want to. This is who I am.
And the “acting crazy” and too emotional trope? That’s a tale as old as time. When women get worked up, sad, or angry, and the world loves to shut us down, depicting us as “crazy” or “emotional.” We have to stop letting them shut us down! I mean, we might be emotional, but there is a hell of a lot to be emotional about right now. Am I right? The world is as cruel as it is beautiful, and there’s so much work to do to make it a better place for our children.
So yes, while we dismantle the patriarchy, we are going to be expressing our damn emotions. It’s healthy. It’s cathartic. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I will not internalize my emotions and hold them back, so that I appear more put together. I wear my heart on my sleeve these days, and I truly don’t give one shit what anyone thinks about that. If that’s “too much” for anyone, then you can find the nearest exit or the unfriend button.
So, if you feel me on this, if you have nodded your head in agreement alongside me, then just know that you are definitely not “too much” of anything. Do not let your partners, your friends, your family, or your co-workers hold you back. Society might have you believe you are an outsider, and you might be, but only in the way that you are rising up to be who you truly are, to demand progress, to say “no more.” Don’t be fooled or knocked down by the patriarchy any longer. Stay passionate. Stay loud. Persist. The world needs you now more than ever.