I am a difficult woman
Me, difficult? Most definitely and I’m aiming to become more so. And you know why? Because ‘difficult’ women get stuff done.
Women are labelled as ‘difficult’ when they don’t play the game of being the ‘good’ girl, ‘playing nice’ and ‘being quiet’. They speak up, challenge the status quo, push boundaries and yes, often make people feel uncomfortable.
Because sometimes (often) this is what it takes to make a difference and, instead of being valued for it, women are labelled with this pejorative language that is designed to put us back in our box and keep us quiet.
It’s interesting how we are encouraged to equate femininity with being soft, quiet, restrained, pretty, accommodating, yet it would be true to say that for most of us, life shows us every day how much strength and courage we need to call upon to deal with all the challenges we face, and to support all the other people who rely on us.
Speaking up and giving voice doesn’t need to be strident necessarily, but then again sometimes it does. Think of the mothers who protested against the Vietnam war in the ’60s – many of them very ‘nice’ middle class women who I bet had never been on a protest march before. Or the impassioned pleas of Greta Thunberg to the UN recently, urging action on climate change and repeating the words, “How dare you?”
Being quiet and playing nice isn’t always the answer.
When you reflect on world history and look around you today at women who are making a difference, whether in business, politics, science, medicine, the arts, design, engineering, journalism etc , each of them is giving voice to deep held beliefs, wisdom, knowledge, skills, values that may not always, and often don’t appeal to the powers that be.
I would like to reclaim the term ‘difficult’ and wear it as a badge of honour and I invite you to do the same.
If being difficult means caring enough about something to speak a personal truth; if it means speaking out about injustice; if it means giving voice to deeply held values – all with the intention of making a positive difference in the world – ‘difficult’ is most definitely the ‘new black’ as far as I’m concerned.