I have been labelled aggressive before. This week is not the first time, nor will it be the last.
That’s ok. I can tough it out.
The truth is though, I am genuinely not an aggressive person. I am not soft and meek or passive either.
But aggressive? Nah.
I am firm, and passionate and protective. I am strong and resilient and outspoken. I am an advocate for my family, I don’t back down from confrontation and I am unafraid.
That does not an aggressive Rachael make.
I had spent the day at my Mum and Dads place. I had spent the day watching my Mother running around doing things for her mother; things that she could/should be doing for herself.
She looks tired, my poor tired Mum. She’s running herself ragged; so, before I leave, I hug her and take both my hands on her arms and tell her in no uncertain terms that she needs to stop. Stop the endless doing and bringing and go getting and running around after my Grandmother. My Grandmother who is more than capable but willingly allowing my mother to do everything because she can get away with it.
I was firm. And I was outspoken as I told her not to do the things for her that she can and should be doing for herself.
I was not afraid to say the things that polite people don’t say. I told her that my Grandmother is capable but lazy. She’s 80. I might be lazy at 80 too. But I can see the tired in my mother and she needs to know that I care; and I can see; and I will be the advocate she needs.
So, with a barrage of instructions about the rehab and the ‘district nursing’ I left her.

I was firm, forthright, protective of my mother and an advocate for her when I can see that she feels like she’s just doing what she must.
My husband says to me later…. “That was aggressive; you were aggressive”
And I must wonder…
If it were he, or any man, standing in advocacy and protecting his mother’s interests so strongly, in the same way I did, would he be called aggressive?
No. He wouldn’t.
He’d be a ‘Good son, looking after his Mum like that…What a good boy he is’

Aggression is Deflector, my now 16-year-old son when testosterone washes over him and he reaches for an outlet; any brother will do; to lash out in a masculine show of strength or play violence.
It is my CC, now 14; when he follows Princess around mercilessly annoying and taunting and attacking her until she submits to powerlessness.
It is my husband, on the rare occasion that he becomes angry enough to release a violent yell at me; or when he simply says something so quietly cutting, it almost feels like it was a physical pain (he’s a Scorpio)
Aggression is an attack, it carries hostility and the intention to cause hurt, it overpowers with force.

What I do with my family, my husband, my children, with the people I care about, is stand up for them, sometimes stand up against them, but always stand for them. I advocate for them, I protect them, I do for them what is right when they either can’t or won’t do it for themselves.

I’ll advocate for my children to both teachers and family if I need to. I’ll have a difficult conversation and I won’t shy away from a confrontation.
I do it fiercely and with passion.
Sometimes I do it like I’m giving orders.
Sometimes I do it loud.
I always do it with love and my intention is always good.
It is the only time I am strong. And I am not afraid to be confrontational.
I am not aggressive.

I am a woman.
And because I am a strong, forthright, loud and frequently ‘too’ direct, women I am labelled negatively.
This week my forward, passionate, unafraidness has awarded me the label ‘Aggressive’
I wouldn’t be the first woman to experience this gender bias.

I am aware that this happens more frequently in the workplace, I’ve lived it. But I’m betting that it happens in homes all over the country as well.

Where a man is confident, his female counterpart is aggressive
Where a man is dominant, his female counterpart is bossy
Where a man is self-assured, his female counterpart is self-absorbed
Where a man is persuasive, his female counterpart is pushy
Where a man is dedicated, his female counterpart is obsessive
Where a man is committed, his female counterpart is selfish

So how do I/we/all of us, fight against eons of gender bias?

the way I see it we can do two things

  1. Be you anyway.
    I can be who I am and accept my strength and my passion and willingness to protect the people I love as a good part of myself. I could be brave enough to see it as something to be proud of. Loud, mouthy confrontationist and all. Because I will always advocate strongly and clearly and with passion for the people I love. Turning it down is asking me to turn down the love I have for these people; won’t happen.
  2. Be you anyway and don’t let labels hold you back. Do like Pantene and #whipit (watch the vid)






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2 Responses to #whipit

  1. I have more to say but kids to collect and a dinner guest so I will simply say, ‘I know how that feels.’ And it is always complicated because nothing can be wholly interesting subjective and…well, we gotta talk ontological relativity soon. It almost broke my brain then I got it suddenly and it smashed a heap of my core understandings. Anyways. Great topic and I do have more to say re gender! Glad you’re back!!!

  2. Jennie says:

    Well said as always Rachael, I’ve not much thought about the labels we sometimes give people until recently when for the last six months I have been labelled as “strong” I certainly don’t perceive myself that way. I’ve stopped pondering over it and accept it as how I came across to people. Fair enough, We all perceive people differently due to a small snapshot we see of their personality, or their reaction to circumstance, hence unnecessary labels.
    You are right with your comparison between the sexes as to how we can be perceived, I hope to see the end of this stereotyping.
    District Nursing are a fantastic resource, there is also a website myagedcare.gov.au (I haven’t looked at it) may be of assistance to your Mother and Grandmother.

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