I have mixed feelings on the phrase “strong women.”
Years ago, a woman told me, “Most of my friends are…[pause]…strong women.” It came off slightly condescending, insulting, and confusing. Was she saying most women AREN’T strong? Was she using “strong” as a euphemism for “loud,” “difficult,” and/or “opinionated”? (Which women should be allowed to be, obvs.) At the time, I thought she was saying I wasn’t strong. I can definitely seem quiet, shy, and “nice” at first, before people realize I’m a diabolical witch with coals for eyes. But kindness and strength aren’t mutually exclusive.
Plus, fuck our culture’s obsession with strength! (See: the proliferation of “strong is the new skinny” quotes on Pinterest. YUCK.) Being physically weak DOES NOT mean you’re inferior. People who are weak, vulnerable, and/or marginalized need advocates and assistance–not in a paternalistic way, but in a way that acknowledges privilege and uses it for good. (Like donating to a homeless shelter or writing your local politicians or whatever.)
If lifting weights makes you happy, go for it. Be as physically strong as you want! But fetishizing strength seems harmful. The “strong woman” thing seems related to the “cool girl” trope: “I’m not like most girls/women [because most of them suck]; I’m more like a dude!” Yikes. Internalized misogyny 😦
Anyway, I LOVE Brit Marling’s quote! Femininity is not inferior. YES to listening, empathy, and vulnerability, now more than ever.