I believe that all women are warriors. In the words of Master P, we are some “No Limit Soldiers”. However, there is a dichotomy between the warrior and the woman that must be expounded upon. Women are expected to be able labor emotionally and maintain femininity - which is WORK. Whether you are a corporate CEO or a stay at home mom, your labor is valuable, and you need to believe it! Every moment of every day, women war with the chatter and stigmas placed upon women.
In 1983, Arlie Hochschild, professor emerita of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, coined the phrase “emotional labor” in her book The Managed Heart. This term was initially used as a workplace term and referred to the need to keep your personal life at home when you got to work. I think this term has been expanded in the 21st century to encompass the pressure put on women to be:
strong and weak
smart, but not too smart
sexy, but not slutty
curvy, but not stomach
freaky, but not loose
natural, but like the models of tv
understanding, but not confrontational
anointed, but not more than… I’ll leave this alone
approachable, but taken
Here are just a few of the many ways that us women are expected to perform emotional labor without compensation or acknowledgement throughout our lives:
Women are asked to watch, entertain, or help take care of younger siblings, cousins, and other children more than men because people automatically assume that women must love kids and be naturally nurturing. If you’re a single auntie, family members perceive that you don’t have a life, so you can just give them your time because being husband-less means your time is not valuable.
Many people believe that women of distinction should provide the multitudes with the “secrets of God’s favor” in the name of asking to “pick our brains” with no pay or reciprocation in the name of “networking.”
Women are expected to take part in “heart to hearts,” “girls’ nights,” and other emotionally intensive occasions that we may or may not have the energy for or interest in. Remember, every woman is not a safe place. Church people will make you feel bad for not wasting your time with swine (Matthew 7:6).
When men explain things to us that we know as much or more about, they expect us to listen as if they are educating us in order to stroke their egos. I’m the “smile and nod” type, I’ll stroke the ego for the sake of femininity, but it gets tiring after a little while.
We feel pressure to avoid looking or acting too “masculine” out of fear that people will ridicule us, deem us undesirable or distrust our gender identity. Don’t swear, don’t have too much bass in your voice, make sure your hair is long and luscious, right?
Women are judged more harshly if we don’t keep our living spaces neat, succeed at cooking and other forms of homemaking, and do a great job entertaining guests.
We’re expected to grit our teeth and put up with disrespectful and objectifying behavior from men because “boys will be boys.” Try Jesus with this…. not me.
When we have children, we’re shamed for everything from how we give birth to how we feed them. Grandmother and Aunties believe that there opinion matters concerning YOUR baby.
When black women are angry, we risk being labeled as “angry black woman”. For other ethnicities, you’re labeled an “angry feminist”.
I’m happy to be a woman, but it’s exhausting. It’s so much pressure, ugh! As a woman who is fatherless, I feel lost most days. But, I’m expected to chop my father’s death up as a trial that has been overcome and move on to the next trial, give advice, be the giver because it's a new day, right? As a woman in ministry, I’m expected to be some sort of Heather Lindsey figure (I love her ministry) because of my testimony, but that’s not what God told me.
I don’t want a bunch of followers, attention, servants, maidservants, armorbearers, midwives (did I miss anything?) following me around. The only person that needs to be praised is YAHWEH. Don’t idolize me, I’ll fail you every time. I AM NOT GOD. I AM NOT A GOD. I am Dee, a beautiful mess. I still get hype when I hear "cash money records takin' over for the '99 & the 2000". I am a secret chef. I am a complete nerd. I'm completely lovable, but guarded because I know better. If I had it my way, I would be in obscurity, but my light is a beacon that God requires - so I stay lit.
I have watched women who aspire a measure of public success get 20 more Facebook likes than last year and suddenly think that they are social media influencers. Why? They think attention = promotion. WHY IS THAT WOMEN ARE FORCED TO BELIEVE THAT BEING SEEN AND LOVED BY THE MULTITUDES MEANS THAT YOU HAVE ARRIVED? There is a distinction that comes with being known by the king of kings. I remember standing in the middle of my room one day worried about my outfit. I was self-conscious about my clothes and the Lord spoke in this still small voice, "You're beautiful". I went to church that same evening, and during the service, five people walked up to me and said these exact words, "Hey! The Lord told me to tell you that you're beautiful".
I honestly believe that when women are raised as warriors in the wilderness (with the lions, tigers and bears, oh my), and they are not heal