Women are expected to be sexy, to be kind, to be in tune with others and meet everyone's emotional needs around them. When women don't fulfill these expectations they are labeled most often as a bitch. Women of color in particular face a compounded standard of expectations around womanhood with the added bonus of navigating the world as a person of color. And are expected to help others navigate the emotional landmines of race including our partners and children.
The Superwoman of color can do it all! Be the boss needed in the boardroom, the exotic lover in the bedroom and of course Mother Nature incarnate. I used to think striving to be superwoman was the goal. And ever step closer to becoming Superwoman a badge of honor. What I have come to realize is that striving to be Superwoman can be dehumanizing.
That Superwoman is expected to be strong, expected to bear it all in stride, to bear insult and injury with grace. When woman of color "don't grin and bear it"; emotions of dissatisfaction; sadness, anger and the feelings that make us human are dismissed as a chip on a shoulder. We are reduced to stereotypes- the angry black woman, the over dramatic Latina and [insert stereotype here].
It's a tricky reality to navigate as to where your humanity can be fully expressed all while risking of labels and dismissal. Pain becomes a currency spent frugally and anger a luxury. Vulnerability is a path that needs to be defined with markers leading us to the places and spaces where we can allow ourselves to be cared for and admit when we are not fine. We need people- our partners, mothers, brothers, coworkers; to see us and really ask how we are doing. It takes a community to keep us going and give us to the strength necessary to brave the world. Without this care from something larger than ourselves, we carry around these expectations of being super without the strength to do so. We become a caricature rather than full authentic selves. The world does not need more caricatures, the world needs us to show up being who we are with our vulnerabilities, our failures, our mistakes and our humanity. And in this we can continuing calling out the dehumanizing discourse that confronts us with our counter examples that are no less amazing than any caped crusader.