So, earlier in the year I was informed during a conversation that women are “fragile” and as such cannot do things such as live abroad on their own… Well anyone that knows me, can be sure that that is 100% false!
Female fragility and toxic masculinity
First of all, what is fragile?! We’re talking about mental and psychological fragility here I presume?! Well, no one can be defined as “weak”, “fragile”, strong or whatever it may be on the basis of their gender. Men and women are not two magical separate species!
Firstly, I take great offence at this as no one should be stigmatised and judged as “weak” and “fragile” as opposed to “strong”. Mental strength is developed through adversity, with the support of loving friends and family and through life experiences. Each and every one of us has lived and is going through different experiences, challenges, trials and each and every one of us has different support systems, different thresholds and different life circumstances. Some of us may be battling things that others are not.
Every experience is subjective and individual. There is no 100% universal objective formula or response to what “mental strength” is and struggling in any form whats over is nothing to do with being weak, fragile or even female, it’s about being normal and human. We’re all strong in our own way – and so yes that includes us ladies.
Gender stereotypes which symbolise the “fragile crying female” against a tearless “rugged strong” male do not reveal what is happening on the inside of each individual. You never know what someone is going through. And , in any case: let’s be clear – tears are not a sign of “weakness” or “fragility”. Emotion or a demonstration or expression of emotion do not symbolise “fragility” or “weakness”, despite what social stereotypes towards affection, emotion and even mental health would say. Such toxic perceptions of “strength” and gender are false.
Ideas of “female fragility” are not only incredibly misogynistic and promulgate toxic ideals of emotionless masculinity but they also stigmatise mental illness, equating physical ability and both physical and mental health with ideas of strength, value and worth. They simply imply that crying or showing emotion is “female” and a sign of weakness. That is simply not true! On the other end, positive masculinity instead means that a man is not discouraged to show feelings and woman who do are also not seen as “weak” and “fragile”. This is what we need folks!
#notfragile: Women in action
Always keen to respond to misogyny and to show just how “un-fragile” we women are based on the basis of our gender, I put pen to paper and also asked lots of wonderful ladies to do to the same to share the difficult experiences and challenges that we’ve overcome and the fantastic achievements we’ve made.
Take a look!
One particularly inspiring video story can be found here.
So, what do you think? Quite awesome, no? Definitely not fragile by default at being female. Yet, I’d also like to share another message from a friend of mine to remind us of just how toxic it is to belittle people’s perceived “strength” and gender. You see, we all have our own struggles in life.
Take a look:
So ladies, keep on being awesome and don’t let any man tell you otherwise! And fellas, please support the women in your life, community and wider humanity! Misogyny doesn’t help any of us. We need to both say no to misogyny and yes to positive masculinity! Let’s build people up, not tear them down!
P.S. If you feel inspired, why not share your story? Don’t forget to add the tag #notfragile. You can either email Voice of Salam or tag on social media (social media handles can be found below)! And yes gents, please do share your stories of the incredible women in your life too!
Credits and acknowledgments
I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the lovely ladies who took part in this campaign and shared their stories. You know who you are! Thank you!