I have been told, as a woman, I am strong, but why do I still feel weak?

Bridgett Bardot at Cannes

Modern times has had society discussing femininity in whole new ways. I am grateful that our discourses have changed, for the most part being broadened, and I had been cautiously optimistic about our futures as women. But the rising crime rates in Malaysia has got me rethinking this…

Recently, my parents had gotten into the habit of getting my younger brother to escort me places. I’m really thankful for my brother’s presence, but a part of me feels, taken back into times of the pre-modern. Here is a young man of fourteen, having to “protect” me, a woman of twenty-two. “Me”, a woman who cared for him as a baby, who watched this baby grow up, and now this baby is meant to take care of the older? There was a warring within my bones that there was something wrong here, that though I understood the reason of having someone physically larger than I am, offering protection, the other part of me felt insulted by society and life, that my younger, baby brother is capable of offering some sort of buffer between myself and some probable assailants that I am not capable of doing myself.

It’s an unjust of life that even with all these rights, and newfound privileges a woman has, there’s still an unlocked part of the world that still puts me under the mercy of “men”. Is it still a man’s world? That no matter how much freedoms and rethinking of womanhood, there are still rapists and robbers, and pragmatism still calls for pragmatism.

Why with all my strengths and abilities am I still “weak”? For example, if I had decided to take up wing chun ( I had seriously considered it), a larger man’s brute force would still be able to overtake my defenses.

Then there’s this other emotional situation. A man who loved me treated me like a complete lady. He pointed out puddles and said “watch out!”, he wouldn’t let me go anywhere alone, he wanted to fix my problems – mostly computer and technical situations, and he loved me. And as anyone knows, being loved is one of the greatest things on this earth.

So why, was I still unable to enjoy it? I hated that he constantly does things for me and protects me. It made me feel weak, sometimes stupid and incompetent. And it is horrible, that even a man expressing his love and expression had turn into some feminist discourse, and even if it wasn’t a conversation about the state of “womanhood”, at a personal level, I was used to handling my affairs myself, to being independent, and the moment he stepped in, all that “strength” gets thrown out the window and I turn into a bumbling, not so cute baby that wanted this care and affection. So I do what I always do- self-sabotage relationships. I had to turn back into the ” independent woman of the twenty first century” and NOT let a man take over my life.

It’s stupid. It’s not poetic, and I am unable to stop myself.

There are those that say this is what love is. You are supposed to feel vulnerable and weak, and there is a mutual weakness that he faces in his giving. There are those that say we can’t measure love on these terms, and its intrinsically different from the “practical” side of safety. There are also those that think I am being ungrateful.

They are all valid responses. But what I truly think this is about is- pride. Its an unwillingness to let someone else take care of me, because I think he is incapable, because I think I can do better.

The fear of losing control of my life and to pave out my own terms scares me beyond belief. There’s also a lot of anger, anger that even in love, as a woman, how much I am loved and cared for, is defined in binaries of how I am vulnerable and how he is strong. Yes there is a lot of the re-imagining of womanhood, an on what “strength” really is about, but there’s also a lot of idealism and romanticism in it that these days, that I find myself unable to relate much to. These times seem to call out for a realism that my wish of being a dreamer contends with everyday.

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2 comments

  1. I totally agree wee! I feel that love isn’t about being protected or that love is measured by how much he sacrifices for you or how much he does for you. I feel that woman don’t have to lose their pride or independence just because they are in love, or has to feel loved. I would hate myself if I had to depend on someone.

  2. I know what you mean, especially as the older sister of another young man (also 14!). This resonates so very much with how I feel. I’ve just never had the courage to voice these thoughts out, as you do.

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