An online chat took an unexpected turn recently when a male friend informed me that when it comes to my opinions, I’m a little too “tough,” I “don’t know my role,” and I “don’t cede to power easily.” In other words, he was broaching the subject of submission and my lack thereof. I was really puzzled by his egregious statements considering that this is a man I’ve never slept with, have no intention of sleeping with, have established boundaries with, and consider nothing but a friend. But somehow, he still thought I should put myself in a position to submit to him.
“For what?” I typed back.
I anxiously awaited his response as I watched the little typing icon dance, disappear, and dance again across my laptop screen. I could feel my facial expression and it was frozen in a confused frown. I couldn’t believe what I had just been forced to read.
The typing icon finally stopped and there it was – “You’re defiant.”
So just to recap, to have an opinion as a woman is to be disobedient apparently–even with your male friends. We’ve been denied so many things as it is. Allow us to keep our own thoughts, at least.
And then the biggest crock of crap popped up on my screen – “You don’t know the natural order of things.”
Order of things? Even species in the animal kingdom have female leaders. Does my vagina somehow qualify me for a life of submission to the male species as a whole and I didn’t know it?
This was someone I regularly went to for advice, as I look at him like a big brother, so his statements were shocking to hear. He was supposed to be on my side, but at that moment I felt like I was talking to an adversary. It felt more like an attack and an unwarranted one at that. We were having a very casual conversation where opinions were being expressed and we didn’t agree.
With a quick eye-roll I started typing, “I just need to understand why my being a woman disqualifies me from being able to make sound decisions and hold on to my own power?”
I didn’t even wait on a response for that one. I could answer it on my own: it shouldn’t.
Author Zora Neale Hurston said it best in Their Eyes Were Watching God: “De ni**er woman is de mule uh de world.” As a black woman, it sometimes feels like we’re attacked from all angles at all times. Show me a problem and I’ll show you where a black woman was blamed for it. In fact, we’re attacked so much that I can’t help but feel that this is where a lot of our root anger stems from. We’ve built up this protective wall to deal with being called the opposite of submissive, which is disobedient, a word better suited to describe a child that is out of bounds.
Since when did having an opinion that doesn’t line up with a man’s make a woman defiant? What if she truly debated her opinion better in terms of the situation being discussed? Must everything be a battle? I personally believe that ego can be the death of a person, male or female, and this whole gender superiority debate is based largely off of ego.
In my opinion, I’ve never truly heard a logical explanation as to why women need to be submissive to men as a whole, so I don’t plan on doing it. In marriage, maybe, but as a whole? No.
I’m over this age-old debate. Really, I am. It’s just maddening to think that just because a man has a different set of equipment between his legs, his opinion should trump mine, and that in every sector of life, I need to bow down in some way. I think not.