Women! The hot topic of the moment. It’s all about women everywhere you turn. Yes, I am a millennial woman, but quite frankly, I’m exhausted from it all. Everyday there is something else that a woman should or should not be or do. Check out social media and you’ll see: do this, don’t do that. Speak up, shut up, me too, you too, enough already. American society says women should be feminists and speak up, shaking our fists angrily in the air because we can’t take it anymore. Can’t take what exactly?

Here’s what I can’t take anymore. I am tired of society telling me what I should and should not be and do as a woman and I’m tired of society judging me. According to the political world, you’re a good woman if you vote Democrat and a repressed woman if you vote Republican. Republican women vote the way men tell them to, says Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. Hillary Clinton said, “We do not do well with white men and we don’t do well with married, white women. And part of that is an identification with the Republican Party, and a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.” Hillary, stop, please. I vote the way I choose, end of story. Women are also expected to vote for female candidates just because they are female. Sorry, again. I vote for the candidate I see as the best for the job regardless of gender or anything else.

Another issue that women get scolded about is protesting and attending marches. Doing this unites women and galvanizes “the cause,” or so they say. No thank you. I don’t protest, and the only time I march is when I’m working out. It’s not for me and news flash I am still a woman. When did these activities make women real women? Why do I need to be a part of the so-called “cause” to be a woman? If you decide to participate, that’s your choice and I respect that. But don’t chastise me if I disagree and choose not to.

I think, say and do what I choose. Why? Because I decide, and I live in America. I am a strong woman who can make informed decisions on my own. This is how strong women do things. They decide. I decide what I watch, who I listen to and what I do. And if I don’t like it, I say so. I do not need to wave my fist in the air and yell to be heard. If you don’t like what I have to say, I’m fine with that and respect your opinion, so please respect mine and my decisions. Being a strong woman and a role model means just that; Standing up for what you believe in, not what anyone tells you that should believe in.

What else do I think makes a strong woman? To me being a strong woman is also about being an overall good human being and respecting other’s views and opinions. This also means being kind and respectful to others. Likewise, it means, trying your best every-day to be the type of person you would like to encounter and doing this with compassion. I am my own voice and I don’t need someone else to speak for me. I am woman hear my hashtag? Really? I don’t think so. I don’t need a hashtag to validate me.

Regarding men, according to social media and society, women need to scrutinize men more closely. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to chastise men who espouse traditional values. Regardless of where you stand on this, remember that polite behavior goes a long way and that it has nothing to do with gender roles. Man-hating does not make a woman strong, nor is it necessary. Men are not the enemy.

Women have long been standing on their own two feet before they were “with her” (eye-roll). The women who stood before me did not need a bumper sticker or a hashtag to get the job done. They just did it. Those are the women I look up to. My mother, my grandmother and all the women in preceding generations who kept the home fires going while war was waging and who were there when we needed them. They didn’t need a hashtag or a march and neither do I to define me or make me feel strong and recognized. Just let me be. So, the point is, I decide and that’s what matters to me and don’t forget that you too have the power to decide.

 

Lauren E. Forcucci is an educator, writer, and proud American. She is the daughter of an immigrant, the granddaughter of a veteran, and a friend and supporter of active-duty military, veterans, and police.  She’s also a proud Whiskey Patriot.