Women Talk

A Hard Heart is What Makes a Strong Woman. Right?

Decoding the misinterpreted meanings of Strongness for a Strong Woman

How many times does a woman vacuums her mouth to hold her sobs? How many times, she faces her fears compromising with her identity? With a stone on her heart, she conceals her emotions to prove herself, a STRONG WOMAN.

The understanding of gender has always been confusing in a patriarchal society. Considering gender as white and black, the two binaries, man and woman, are still associated with masculine and feminine ideas. Where we are seeing an improvement in society’s understanding of gender, it is a fact that there is still a long way in achieving gender equality.

( Decoding their secrets)

Considering the psychological shift men and women are put to, because of the changing narratives, we often see the female members making and supporting statements like “Be a Strong woman”, “We are fearless”, “queens, let’s be strong and fierce”, “a woman can be as strong as the man” and the like. It is always amazing to find out people who represent strongness and associate it with mental and moral strength instead of making it a physical strength game. There is nothing good in representing oneself as weak or less eligible. This situation appears satisfactory only till the time, this redefinition doesn’t intend to meet with the patriarchal definitions of strongness. The patriarchal definitions refer to the preset conservative behaviours of men, where feelings and emotions can not be associated with the so-called primary gender, Men.

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Bringing here, the fictional character of Jo March, in the Novel and the Film ‘Little Women’, we can find in Jo, the strong women we desire to make. Jo is a bold, outspoken, loyal, and principled woman. She dreams of becoming a writer and we always see her burning herself out to support her mother and three sisters, emotionally, financially, and morally. Jo certainly resembles what we call as a perfect, strong woman. But is Jo really strong? Is Jo really perfect?

In the later stages of Little Women, Jo confesses, ” I just feel like, Women, women, they have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts, and they have got ambition and they have got talent, as well as just beauty, and I am so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman can do! I am so sick of it. But I am so lonely”.

Throughout the novel and the film, we see Jo trying to dismantle the stereotypes society has around women (loving, kind, emotional, and caring). Jo’s ultimate quarrel throughout her life has been to become successful, supportive of the family, and become strong. There has been no scene where we see Jo sobbing, not even when she is at her lowest. We see her gulping her cries because that is what a strong person does according to society. For her, if she expresses her emotion, she will fail to break the stereotypical definition of women.

(Remember that)

Well, Jo March is a perfect mirror to the Strong Woman, women are trying to become. Their effort to attain equality is so strong that they find debasing the conventions associated with them to be a crucial option. Well, what’s ironic is that we have started discussions advocating the normalcy of a man, crying, being fearful, and sensitive, what is disturbing is the women’s act of concealing their emotions to prove their strongness. Imagine, that every time, a man was told “Ladkiyo ki tarah mat roo” and “Ladke Rote Nhi”, a woman must have thought “kya ladkiya sif roti hai” (All that women do is cry?) and  “kya sif ladkiya roti hai?” (Is it just women who cries?). And, this is from where the idea of redefining and breaking the stereotypes starts.

In the present times, we are seeing open discussions around human psychology which suggest that one should acknowledge and rationally express their emotions. What should be noted that this expression is not subjective to any gender but here, what is being seen is something completely opposite. The conservative ideas and beliefs of society are so strong that they have made women question their normal and natural emotions. Her understanding of sensitivity – perhaps is amalgamated by toxic ideas – resembles someone with a cold heart (which men were ideally supposed to be).

(You can be strong and you can be emotional)

Well, Can we say, this is not what we wanted? Obviously not! It is quite disappointing to see how confusing the equation of feminism has become. In order to achieve equal status in society, women try to prove that they are equal (as strong as men). They try to redefine their character which is closer to the conservative ideas of manliness. The psychological impact of it is so strong that it makes us fear that in order to make a strong woman, they are becoming vulnerable to losing their natural emotion.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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