How Aggressive Women Prepare for the World

People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.

-Michael Foucault

I’ve been called aggressive in more ways than one.

This is probably the worst thing you can call a woman. Besides Cunt.

In one instance, I was called this by another woman, in the presence of Men. Men who are figures of power. I say figures because there is true power and then there are figures of power and all they really have is control.

As a woman I come into the workplace with several setbacks to begin with. Two being my breasts, which have been stared at, discussed and pressed against. I’ve been mansplained, ridiculed and quieted. I’ve pumped milk in storage closets with no locks.  I’ve played up compliments to get through it, I’ve worked harder than I’ve had to. I’ve not gotten what I deserved.

But now to be called aggressive?

This woman who labelled me in this way. She should have known better. She must have known that what was she was implying would humiliate and condemn me. And for the most part, it fucking worked.

Women have been oppressed for centuries in the name of aggressiveness. For having their periods. The menses, the monthly reminder that women can create and carry life. With that comes fluctuations in our bodies and moods and yes, blood. In many cultures, women were not permitted to enjoy sex out of fear of what that type of pleasure would do to her personal power. The feminine mystique.

Remember that hundreds of thousands of women were hunted, tortured and publicly murdered in massive numbers for showing “independence of spirit.” They were deemed dangerous and labeled a witch simply for being themselves.  But in reality they were tender, nourishing healers. They were curious and courageous and because of that, society feared them and inflicted great violence, terrorize the surviving women into submission and control. To criticize a woman for being aggressive in 2019 perpetuates ages of violence towards her female ancestors.

Because you are a woman, people will force their thinking on you, their boundaries on you They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go. Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgment. Make you own choices in the light of your own wisdom. -Amitabh Bachchan

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In my workplace there is a very masculine energy although we are majority female.  Law enforcement requires a very structured, confrontative, and productive means of dealing with others. I have learned to be assertive and self-assured. I’ve got moxie. To condemn me for these skills is so harmful. I would not label myself as aggressive. I would say I am courageous and diligent. I am clear when confronted. This is not what the world wants me to be, but this is what I need to be.

I’ve been put in my place time after time after time, I’ve actually engaged in the notion that perhaps it is me, maybe I am too much after all. Thankfully this fog never lasts more than one sleep.

To call me aggressive is to deny my softness, my ability to be both.  Believe me that I am both.

Honestly don’t give a fuck ’bout who ain’t fond of me, Dropped two mixtapes in six months, What bitch working hard as me? I don’t bother with these hoes, Don’t let these hoes bother me. They see pictures, They say goals, Bitch I’m who they trying to be. – Cardi B

How foolish of me to forget what I learned a long long time ago, that even the hardest of hearts is just a really a scared person. Each time I am called aggressive, it is out of their own cowardice and fear of my personal power, true power. Although calling me aggressive implies so much, what it truly implies is more about them and less about me.

Empathy is perhaps the stout and righteous thing one could be, and only I can decide to be that.

I suppose the antidote to all of this is to own this supposed aggression. Is to accept the label as it were a gift. I guess I could channel someone like Cardi B but remember that Cardi B has her vulnerable and softened days too, we’ve all seen it.  In fact it was she who said “the women that inspire me, to be honest are the women that struggle.” 

Maybe it is actually the adversaries that bolster our strength. When faced with flood of judgement, we hold our heads higher; when they throw fighting words, we fight; when they call us aggressive, it is our softness and smarts that recognizes that it hurts and more so, why it hurts. What is stronger than that?

I wish I could end this with a solution–obviously I’m trying–but there is none. Today I will put on my nicest outfit, eyeliner, mascara, perfume and every piece of jewelry that I own, I will flat iron my hair, I will be flawless–you know, the way us aggressive women prepare for the world.  I’ll go to work and continue to do my best, even if no body notices, but it will most likely occur in a quieter, more muted way. These events always seem to pull me back into myself a bit, and maybe that’s okay. I choose to be persistently myself, which is gentle and exposed and amusing and messy and intelligent and dreamy and magic and extremely soft and perhaps at times, aggressive, when I need to be.

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