The Myth of the Respectable Woman

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No respectable woman would behave that way!

How many times have I heard someone, usually a man, make that remark, usually referencing a woman who had the audacity to be imperfect?   In their minds, a woman should be honorable, intelligent, well-educated, feminine, a great cook and homemaker, a devoted wife and giving mom, healthy and athletic, but curvy and sensual and able to able to put away a hearty meal, one that she cooked of course, vulnerable and fragile whenever it suits a man’s ego, but also strong, independent, ambitious and career-oriented.  Anything less, and she can be expect to be labeled a poor role model and bad example, an embarrassment.  If you are able to be all these things everyday of your life – you have my adoration and undying respect.  But, I realized a long time ago I was never going to be all of those things at once to everyone, and I’m perfectly okay with that.  In fact, I’m overjoyed.

Usually men who make comments like this have a very twisted view of what womanhood actually is. Women are either playthings to be used and discarded at their discretion or paragons of virtue and respectability.  They’re pigs.  Do we really want these men dictating how women should behave?  It’s absurd.  Besides, it’s okay to be flawed.  I love creating female characters who are complex and multi-dimensional, who have secrets and dark pasts, who make mistakes.

When I was younger, I sometimes felt an immense pressure to be respectable.  I judged myself so harshly.  When relationships failed, I blamed myself 100%.  I wasn’t enough.   Not gifted enough in the kitchen, not skinny enough, not smart enough or ambitious enough.  Not respectable enough.  Now I’m much easier on myself.  I know that failure is a part of the learning process of life.  I also know my value as a woman is not linked to my ability to hold on to a man, as some would have you believe.  I am enough.

Some days I eat salad for lunch, make it to the gym after work, then go home and cook a cozy dinner for two, others I duck home early, order greasy take out and watch bad television.  I’ve put more emphasis on being healthy and strong than skinny.  I strive to be a great wife, but other days I miss the mark there too.  I’m not a mom yet, and I’m fine with becoming one on my timetable, not the world’s.  I’m not where I’d like to be in my professional life, but I’ll get there.  I found out just being me, and the journey of figuring out exactly who I am without judging myself or caring if anyone is judging me, is a lot more fun.

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6 thoughts on “The Myth of the Respectable Woman

  1. It’s so nice to hear that as a woman you let no man dictate you.
    I’ve always adored women like that and many young girls have begun looking up to women that too.
    Women should be confident with who they are.
    It’s so good to see women who are content with themselves.
    Have a nice day 🙂

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