Today is Independence Day in Trinidad and Tobago, the twin republic where I reside. It marks 52 years that we have been independent of British rule, which means that the Queen and the Royal family are no longer our monarchs and that we have a self elected government.
I am thinking how the phrase “independent woman” disturbs me even as there are so many songs celebrating it. The words of Destiny’s Child’s song “all the women who are independent throw your hands up at me” particularly worries me.
When I go to parties and the DJ shouts “all the women who pay their own rent, buy your own clothes… scream” and all the women raise their hands and scream, I usually do not join in.
The term bothers me, because now that I am a “reformed independent woman” I know how the term can set us wrong, tell us to expect less from the world, settle for less than we deserve and makes it difficult for us to receive.
The way that popular culture touts female independence builds the expectation that we are some sort of super humans who can stand on our own, we never take crap from anyone, we don’t need anyone and we are strong. This conjures up an image, for me, of a trailblazing woman, who is always on point, and never has doubts. This is so not me.
While I am grateful that as a woman I can pay my own bills and take control of my life, I know that as a female human that I need people in my life. I like celebrating with people, and being treated kindly and courteously. I enjoy empathy and commiseration when things go wrong. I want to be connected and I yearn for true relationships and deep friendship with both men and women.
I removed the S from my chest a long time ago. I want people to know that I need attention, caring, kindness, love and interest. I am not trying to do this alone and I am not trying to be self sufficient. I need help. I am also willing to give as I receive and even when I don’t (receive).
I am not codependent. I make my own choices and decisions, and I take responsibility for my actions. I just need support, mentoring, friendship and to be heard and seen on a regular basis.
Don’t call me independent, it does not let you off the hook. I am not a survivor, and I am not going to make it in a way that honours who I am without you. Treat me well. I am female in need of the authentic human touch.
What do you think of the term independent woman?