The word ‘strong’ has two meanings when entered into Google, which is obviously a great way to start an intelligent piece of writing.
having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.
able to withstand force, pressure, or wear.
Related synonyms include not only words that imply physical toughness; but those that evoke a broader, all encompassing strength; like security, resilience and fortitude. To me, true strength is something that’s inside, something that isn’t necessarily manifested by anything physical. It’s not what you can lift or how big your quads are, it’s the amount of space you take up in the universe, and how strong your convictions and sense of self are. It’s also a little bit about withstanding the ‘force, pressure and wear’ of other people’s bullshit.
I’m very lucky to be surrounded by women of this calibre; women who are strong not only physically but in their values, their opinions, and in standing the fuck up for themselves. These women are athletes, entrepreneurs, and experts in their fields; they are basically strong at life. Their courage and strength inspires me to be stronger, they will tell me when I’m being a dickhead, and encourage me to not allow anyone else to treat me like one. To me strong means confident, strong means un-fuck-with-able. It means mental durability, and it means setting your bar high and not letting people get away with piece of shit behaviour, or engaging in it yourself. As a strong, single, and (mostly) straight woman, I find that the majority of the bullshit I encounter is from men in the dating arena, and there’s this thing that I keep hearing which I feel needs to be addressed.
It’s that they love/ are attracted to ‘a strong woman’. Now don’t get me wrong, this does SOUND like a good thing, and I used to find it complimentary as it would give me hope that perhaps this one wasn’t just intent on crossing ‘tattooed chick’ off his sexual bucket list (yes, my skin feels like anyone else’s, and no, not EVERYWHERE is tattooed but great question and one way you are guaranteed to not find out for yourself) before moving on to whatever the next conquest was. When I have a guy tell me that they are attracted to, or value my strength, it suggests to me that they genuinely respect my values, and that they also hold themselves to a similarly high standard of behaviour. To me the only relationships worth having, whether romantic or not, are with those that challenge you, with people who have your back but are also unafraid of difficult conversations, and will tell you when you’re being a dickhead. Basically strong means having character, values, and respect for yourself and others, which are things that are more important than the size of your snatch (open to interpretation) or how good you look naked.
I don’t think that’s what they mean though.
What I’ve been discovering, is that when (some*) men claim they love strong women, what they mean is they like looking at them, or relentlessly heart-eye-emoji-ing their Insta stories (please stop this literally pointless behaviour.) They don’t mean that they appreciate their ambition, their drive, their strength of character or their convictions. They don’t enjoy that they stand up for themselves and expect to be treated with respect, in fact as a rule they find this part tedious and eye-roll-y, like *oh there she goes again with her standards and opinions*. I’ve come to realise that when a guy tells me he loves how ‘strong’ I am, what he really means is he loves that I (sometimes, not today) have abs, that my legs and my ass are (fairly) solid, and that I can hold him down pretty successfully if we’re getting into that sorta territory (sorry Mum). He likes watching videos of me lift things like it’s this fun kinda novelty (oh, how cute that she has a hobby) as I’m though I’m the last remaining figurine (equipped with stick-on tattoos and a barbell) of some set he’s trying to collect.
I feel like what they mean is that strong = hot.
Strong doesn’t mean hot though. Strong means being clear with others about your boundaries, and how you expect to be treated. Strong is holding yourself accountable to the same standards you hold others and constantly inviting the chance for self improvement. I’ve spent a lot of time recently on this, and on defining my values and actually leading my life in accordance with them.
This is not easy and means I have to hold myself to the same standard of behaviour I expect from the others. It basically means in terms of relationships that I am super clear with people from the beginning what my intentions are, and if they don’t align I simply won’t be wasting my (or their) time. It’s taken me a long while and a large amount of bullshit to get to the point that I refuse to be treated like a Netflix episode, where you can pause when you feel like it and then press the ‘continue watching’ button when it suits you. Yes I’m strong, and I’m strong enough to continue to be aggressively single and keep building my golden empire with the aforementioned wonderful women in my life while I wait patiently for a guy who won’t send me dick pics.
So before you attempt to interrupt a strong woman’s busy schedule and otherwise genuinely-fine-without-you life, ask yourself this…or do you actually value all aspects of her strength?
*To all of you wonderful men in other aspects of my life; thank you for giving me hope that there is more of you
Sarah currently works for Active monash in their fitness programming department andcoaches out at CrossFIt Richmond. She's a legend and is one of a kind. You can follow here instagram @sarahgetsbetter which is a source of constant entertainment, with training, trying to wear dresses and videos of her anti-social cat Graham.
This is her blog. It’s cool, you should check it out. But no breadcrumbing now..