Me Tarzan. He Jane ?

Redefining the term “feminine”

‘ She is the strong one.’

There we go again. You know how they politely downplay that adjective? It’s almost like they are afraid you will take out the whip with which you allegedly discipline your nearest and dearest, and use it on them. Some brave the lions and cackle it out loud and clear. My response remains the same.

I defend myself.

Over the years, many strong willed women have apologised, justified and denied that they have minds of their own. A big part of the reason for my personal denial is because it is naturally assumed that my man has to be henpecked and weak willed, for us to survive twenty four years together. I am lucky to be married to a man who is equally strong willed and does not suppress my very vocal opinion. It is a battle of minds, points of views and which movie to watch. We are happy in our crazy, verbal volatility but people around us seem to wonder why. Time and again, I find myself citing examples of my husband’s strong man persona just to prove ‘He Tarzan. Me Jane.’ and not the other way around.

Why do I do this? Stereotypes, conditioning and Mom’s old fashioned advice have often forced me to protest vociferously. It doesn’t help the cause, by the way.

Even if I tried, I could not camouflage these dead giveaways which are branded aggressive and therefore less feminine.

  1. Standing up for what I believe in and acting on it.
  2. Expressing my opinion even if the entire room is in disagreement.
  3. Looking you straight in the eye, standing tall and laughing heartily. Being taller than average adds to the image.
  4. Using a cuss word, cracking up at dirty jokes, outdrinking the men, on occasion.

It adds up, all of it.

Then there’s this side.

I cry at movies. My writing is pure emotion. Motherhood has been my greatest career. My husband makes fun of my irrationality. I am terrible at maths. I hate super hero films.

Yes, I am strong but that is who I am. I fight for what I believe in, for friend, for family, for a cause. I speak my mind because I have one. I speak loudly because I have been blessed with powerful vocal cords. I take charge of situations because it comes naturally to me.

Yes, I am soft because that is who I am. I listen to a friend all night if she needs to talk. I guide my husband towards being sensitive and empathetic. I teach my girls to be nurturing and loving. I understand the suffering of others and it pains me, so I write my stories to reach out to them.

Though the New Year is long gone, I have a new resolution. No apologies. Only acceptance.

I am proud to be me. A principled, sensitive and caring woman. A strong woman.

There I said it, at last.

Alisha “Priti” Kirpalani is the author of a “A Smattering Of Darkness: Short and Shorter Twisted Tales,” a collection of short stories of varying lengths encapsulating the grey shades of the human psyche. Her new novel will be released later this year.

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