Since my first year of primary school, I have been bossy, aggressive, ruthless. I have been a cold hard bitch. No—it’s not because I have an attitude, nor is it because I am rude and inconsiderate. It stems from an expectation placed upon girls from a young age. We are imagined to exude emotion and warmth as feminine beings, so where a woman is not expressive is where femininity goes to die.
There is an age-old idea that women’s emotions face suppression because of masculine norms that promote reservation and calculated action. Consequently, it is voiced that women do not need permission to express anger, sadness, and intense passion. But where does that leave those of us who do not find it necessary to broadcast our feelings? Why does it make both feminists and the patriarchy uncomfortable that we are measured in our actions?
Women should be allowed to express strong feelings towards anything under the sun, but we should be allowed to practice reservation. It should be acceptable to exhibit immense passion. Still, it should be valid to reserve emotional thoughts for intimate settings. The bottom line: women should express themselves in any way that we see fit. It’s not our job to make others comfortable with how much (or how little) emotion we choose to express.
For some women, it takes a hell of a lot to make us angry. A catastrophe must ensue to bring us to shed a single tear. We are not around to constantly make sure that others feel comfortable and happy, and we’re not the kind of women who will give loads of hugs. That precise lack of emotional investment eventually becomes lost in translation. To some, it seems to mean that we are cold. To others, it means that we are complicit in an agenda to suppress female emotion.
Either conclusion is not well founded and honestly incorrect. Frankly, it’s not that deep. Several women calculate emotional responses because we have an inherent desire to reserve emotion for settings that demand it. Many of us only feel comfortable sharing our emotions with those who we are closest with. Few seem to discuss women like us. Women should not be made to feel as if we only have one option for reaction to any circumstance. And I know that I will never comply with expectations of where I should place myself in emotionally-charged situations.
The need to keep my feelings to myself does not arise because I am complicit in views of feeble female emotion. It’s an exhibition of who I have been since my days in the womb. My reservation doesn’t stem from the notion that men make me feel like I cannot be passionate. It is inherent. Does it make me less of a feminist because I choose not to broadcast my feelings? Absolutely not. I am exercising my right to portray myself in a way that is true to who I am. That is how I operate, and no expectation of supposed femininity will change that.