With everything that is going on in our culture today I have been giving a great deal of thought to what it really means to be a “strong woman” and how do we empower the younger generations to be strong women.
It seems that many people use the word “strong” synonymously with “independent” and “equal.” However, these terms are not synonymous. Being strong doesn't mean being independent and equal. Being strong doesn’t mean we don’t need other people or that we “don’t need a man” or that we can “do anything a man can do.”
Don’t get me wrong - I am a firm believer that a man and a woman who are doing the exact same job, with the same level of education and experience deserve to be paid the SAME salary. Women should not make less money simply because they are women. No.
Women and men are different, we were created differently and we serve different, unique purposes in the world. Purposes that are not in competition with one another but rather, complement one another. Part of the problem we have today is that women are in competition with men for “equality.” But we are unique, not equal. We can do things that men cannot do and men can do things that we cannot do. And that’s okay. It was designed to be that way.
There is so much more to being a strong woman than wearing “pussy hats” and dressing up in vagina costumes and parading down the streets. I love the idea of women supporting other women and standing together, united. But we have crossed a line. We are not showing our strength when we behave like this.
Strength is using your experience to help others, to clearly articulate what your needs and desires are and to fight for them in an appropriate way. Strength is knowing how unique you are and that needing a man in your life to complement you is not a threat to your strength but rather an amplifier to your strength. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by strong men of integrity. It would be easy for me to be a “man hater” but because I’ve consistently been surrounded by these men, I know that the bad men that came into my life were a result of my own doing. These men have taught me that strong men will empower you to become the strong woman you were created to be. A strong man will not attempt to put a damper on your strength. He will desire to help you grow and he will enjoy seeing you in your strength.
All of that said - what IS a strong woman?
It’s pretty safe to say that there is a wide range of opinions in answer to this question. I’ve met many women in my lifetime who I consider to be strong women. Some of them are outspoken and some of them are very quiet in their strength. Some of the traits all the strong women I know have in common is - a sense of self. They know who they are and they know whose they are. Strong women keep getting up over and over and over again - against the odds and when they are tired and frustrated and beaten down in so many ways. Strong women stand up for other women, men and children. They encourage and inspire others to be the best that they can be. Strong women don’t compete with other women or compare themselves to other women as a means to build themselves up or tear themselves down. They know they are unique - not better than anyone else, but unique and special in their own right.
The characteristic I find most among strong women is that they are givers. They pour out to others in so many ways. The strong woman is the one who will smile and encourage you and hold you up even when she is having a hard time standing herself. These women give and keep no record of debt owed to them in deeds or otherwise. Strong women are selfless and humble.
I aspire to be like many of the strong women that I know. Strength is multiplied when we pour it out. It’s not strong to flex our muscles and show off our strength. Our strength is in our actions, in what we do and give to others. Our strength is in how we think of ourselves and the standards we hold ourselves to and the people we surround ourselves with…strong women and…strong men.