When You’re A Strong Girl In A Man’s World: A Personal Statement

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I come from a middle-class family that, to a far extent, does not exercise gender roles; a family that never justifies their criticisms with “because you’re a girl.” I am proud to say that I’ve grown, and am growing, into the woman I desire to be, the woman who does not believe her goals are limited to social assignments; the woman who thinks beyond social acceptance, obsession over appearance, and the looks of dismay on the faces of those who’ve deemed me “too loud,” “too self-assured” or “too much” of anything. 

These do not bother me anymore.

But, as I breathe in the atmosphere, and as my eyes become greedily aware of this little world I’m in, the more I realize that this “gift” I’ve been blessed with, the gift of independence and the strength to say “I do not need you,” is a double-edged sword.  I’m starting to notice people aren’t very much into that. Had I been less assertive, less confident, and less determined to achieve, I believe it would’ve been easier to mingle. I believe I would’ve been easier marriage-bait. I believe it would’ve been easier to approach me without telling me “Mona, there’s a shield around you!”

I could go on and on how I’ve always felt like I’m the bossy self-absorbed girl I’m frequently told I am, but that’s not what this is about. What it really is about, though, is that I had a personal dilemma with myself over my character.

At one point, I tried to beat myself down. I tried to dress better, be “cuter”, less assertive, less intimidating to my male-counterparts; afraid I would threaten their robust aura and self-worth. A lot less of myself, I turned out to be.  Although the “dress better” part got me attention – which, I admit, was enjoyable – it wasn’t the type of attention I sought for. My mind buzzed anxiety over my internal struggle in social situations, and everything just felt awkward. I felt like my mind could not take another word on my existence anymore. I refuse to feel bad for what I am anymore.

Till this day, I am still stubborn about not being a feminist. I don’t like collective labeling. But, what I can say, is that this so-called man I’m careworn to give excuses for being “stronger,” or more assertive than me, will not get me my dream job. He will not get me that extra grade I deserve from that professor. He will not be the one driving to the pharmacy in the middle of the night to get my mom meds when she’s sick. He will not be the one holding the weight of the world on his back when my father retires. He will never be me. He will never be me.

So, why are we so caught up in not being ourselves? I’ve simplified the math.

I’ve let go of the idea that authority is a binary factor. Human instinct is coherent with patterns in nature. So, gender-based authority is simply a social construct, whereas it should be a game of the “survival of the fittest.” The stronger entity survives and leads the change. Simple. We must change how we view things around here. Authority is simply a matter of capability, and not a matter of what’s born in between your thighs. If strength should be a matter of gender, then I believe everybody should have strength for their sake. Everybody should have the power of will. Everybody should know self-love, self-worth and be goal-oriented. Imagine the things we could prosper, if we cheered each other on, instead of pushing ourselves into little corners…instead of drowning potential.  

Whoever it may be, male or female:  your character will only be monopolized if you allow it to be. As for everyone else in this windmill, whether directly or indirectly,

stop shaming strong young ladies.

Mona Issa

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