Where does a woman get her strength from? Alas, we never get to asking that question in the world where we still have to prove in the first place that women are strong. For long we have been called the weaker sex; physically, mentally and emotionally. Strong, muscular, level-headed, determined, these are still not the words that get usually attributed to women. A woman is usually bestowed with compliments like beautiful, gracious, empathetic and dainty. While there is nothing wrong with these compliments, it is amusing how attributes associated with strength are seen as, un-feminine. As if physical strength and determination make a woman, less womanly. How misplaced is this notion!

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • A woman recently saved her husband’s life after he fell into a dormant volcano, during their honeymoon.
  • She had to hike two miles to the base of the mountain, while supporting her injured husband.
  • We know so many stories about strength, courage and determination of regular women.
  • And yet somehow, these tales are overshadowed by the fables of male bravado.

We don’t see wives supporting and nursing injured or physically challenged husbands as strong. We surely do see them as dutiful mothers and wives, but the courage and strength they display, we never attribute it to their womanhood.

I recently read about a woman, who rescued her husband after he fell into a dormant volcano, on their honeymoon. Acaime Chastain hiked two miles to the mountain’s base, with her injured husband, Clay leaning on her. This got me thinking of the innumerable women that I have known, read or heard about, who’ve shown courage, physical strength and stamina and determination, in the face of hardships. My grandmother reared four children while her husband was away serving the country. My mother who got up at five in the morning to lug vessels filled with fresh water, just days after giving birth to her second child. My mother-in-law, who raised a son while caring for a physically challenged husband; was doing everything from fetching electricians, hurling monthly grocery and mostly holding the fort on her own.

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Then there is a woman who lives in my society, who must be well in her sixties, who cares for her paralytic husband. Till a few months ago, she was also caring for a bedridden mother-in-law. I often see her pushing her husband’s wheelchair singlehandedly on the uneven terrain that our society is situated on. Where does this waif-like old woman find the strength to do this, that too day in and day out? She isn’t alone though, as there are millions of women who go around putting physical and emotional labour into keeping their families functioning smoothly. There strength is subtle, but one thing is for sure, they aren’t weak.

Being a woman also means being resilient, adaptable, with a will-power forged in steel. These qualities don’t make us ‘manly’, they infact ensure our survival when the tide of time turns against us.

Women’s everyday strength often gets overshadowed by tales of male bravado in our society. We never look at a housewife as an inspiration in that department. We don’t see millions of single mums raising their kids as gutsy. We don’t see wives supporting and nursing injured or physically challenged husbands as strong. We surely do see them as dutiful mothers and wives, but the courage and strength they display, we never attribute it to their womanhood.

Being a woman also means being resilient, adaptable, with a will-power forged in steel. These qualities don’t make us ‘manly’, they infact ensure our survival when the tide of time turns against us. However, it shouldn’t take a woman racing into dormant volcanoes for us to acknowledge that. The examples of feminine strength are all around us. All we have to do is to look closely and learn to appreciate them, be it around us, or within us. So next time someone calls you strong or muscular or competitive or even gallant, take that as a compliment. Don’t let stereotypes tell you what you are or aren’t capable of doing.

Image Credit: Autumn Goodman, Unsplash

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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