Friday, February 10, 2012

Independent Women Part 1: Syntax

independent |ˌindəˈpendənt|adjectivefree from outside control; not depending on another's authoritynot depending on another for livelihood or subsistence 
not connected with another or with each other

  From time to time in the English language phrases become trendy. However people often use these phrases incorrectly, or the colloquial usage of these phrases are ambiguous or confusing if taken to literally.

One example is the term Independent Woman. I cringe whenever I hear this term because I can't but view it as one of the contributing factors to an influx of single women and the ever so popular 'cougar' in modern society.   Primarily because women follow up this phrase with "I don't need a man for NOTHING" which certainly liberates your mind but if you say something long enough you begin to have faith in it and live it- such is the power of words- eg. Muhammad Ali, Deion Sanders, etc.  Men on the other hand may mess up, say and/or do many stupid things but we will never utter that phrase about  women- because WE KNOW BETTER and it's not even halfway true.  A classic anthem for men is A Man's World by James Brown, whereas a classic anthem for women is Independent Women by Destiny's Child, so I'm sure that some man somewhere had this thought but he soon realized he was wrong if he tried to test the theory.

  There is a major difference between needing and depending on people.  Ultimately most people need companionship which is most likely a key factor in one's happiness, but don't have to depend on that individual to live life.  On a base level we all depend on others for companionship and survival at some point, even if you may not need a specific person in your life, a quite humbling experience.  So making such a blanket statement is a recipe for disaster because you begin buying into unattainable ideals. The truly independent person would never ask anyone for even a favor and would live isolated in the woods off of the fat of the land so to speak, with a generator. However this would ultimately result in relinquishing a major component of happiness that many fail to admit their love for in the first place: POWER!  Inevitably our power depends on our relationships with other people, and let's face it, nobody rises to power or success without a helping hand along the way;  even the ever so mundane occasional "you dropped something".

Now let me say that I'm not oblivious to struggle of women for centuries, combating gender roles and narrow minded ideals that allowed discrimination against them, in the job market for example among other thing, based solely on gender.  Feminism found it's origins during War War, where women heading families became common practice.  Furthermore the term independent woman is more prevalent in black culture as black women suffered a double entendre with racism and sexism.  So I completely understand that this phrase has more to do with liberation and equality than being militant, but it certainly brings militant overtones.  With that said women experience more equality in 2012 and in 1912, so progress is certainly visible.

However, chanting independent women and protesting for equality seems a bit contradictory when the same independent woman expects old fashioned chivalry like holding the door, paying for dates, pumping gas, carrying heavy bags or anything else a lady is traditionally above doing herself.  Objectively buying into the notion of the independent woman forces one to question continuing these practices.  I'm all about chivalry but these are luxuries that ultimately reinforce to the notion of helpless and inferior women; after all men don't feel the same need to rescue other men, we expect them to figure it out.  In short you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Everything gain comes at some sacrifice, even ideals. So perhaps we should re-evaluate the use of this term and opt for a term that celebrates self-suffience. Lightbulb- I like that term Self-Sufficient! - because a truly independent would likely be the ultimate mogul, a modern day Queen Elizabeth I, but she would be lonely.

C.Mitchell  for VM

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  1. Chivalry is only a notion of respect and admiration just because a women wants this out of a man doesn't mean she isn't able to do then herself, women just want to be romanced and made to feel special. Even though a true independent women doesn't need anyone to reassure her self worth or self respect. - Lady C

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