The Strong Woman Rhetoric

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Women of character. Women of Substance. Femmes. Mujeres. Strong women. They have both feet planted on the ground. Loving yet not indulging. They have strong arms to herd a throng of small children, to administer punishment yet to gather them into an embrace. Their voice is firm yet loving and knows when to increase in decibels and when to lower into a whisper.

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These are the women that don’t always make the Hollywood posters but are revered by all of us. They are the ones from whom we draw inspiration, as girls (and boys). When I saw my mother walked unaided, a couple of miles today despite her feverish state, repeating “I’m strong enough to do it”, it made me think about the long lines of strong women that I’m linked to:

-the one that bravely restarted her life in a new country, learning a language that was once foreign to her, working multiple shifts as an employee, a mother, a sister, an aunt and confidante

-the one that raised her 5 children on her own as an entrepreneur

-the one that raised 7 children and many of her grandchildren

-those whose stories I’m still just discovering: the one that was the first girl in an entire country to attend secondary school and to later become a teacher, the one that was a wrestler and competed against  men from neighboring villages, the mystical healer and many who still remain unknow to me.

I’ve been called strong before, but next to these women, I’m not that important. I feel a sense of awe and humility for being linked to them. My aunt used to tell me that to become women, girls must become strong because there will be many things to deal with, many skills that would need to be developed to maneuver oneself in this world.

It made me wonder whether or not all women are Strong or if Strength is a character, a virtue reserved only for the few of us who have proved ourselves to be the definition of the word. As women, are we born strong or do we become it?

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