Dear Woman with the “attitude” and “short fuse,”
Dear “angry,” “ungrateful,” “loud” Woman who cannot accept the way things are and does not find it admissible to smile through your pain, trauma, and frustration,
Dear Woman who is “impossible to please,” “difficult,” and therefore “less likable,”
Dear Woman who is physically unable to separate the personal from the political,
From the moment we open our eyes until we close them at night Women are taught we must exude patience and politeness.
Our very existence seems to demand it. Our safety requires it.
Anger is not an option. We must trade our strong voices for silence and passivity.
Depending on how many intersecting identities you navigate, society will expect more or less patience of you on a daily basis just to maintain some “normal” order in your life.
I’m writing this so that you know that you are not alone in your frustration. In your inability to dig and maintain a well of unlimited acceptance for a society and world that justifies and silences not only your pain, but your joy and experiences.
But more than that, I write this to remind you that since you were a girl, taught to be polite and submissive, you have trained yourself to have all the patience in this world. To carry all of your weariness out of site and replace it with surface-level tolerance in order to make others comfortable, or to save your own life.
I don’t believe we need any more patient women.
We are suffocating in our collective patience.
What we own are a spectrum of emotions that can change the world if we refuse to suppress them. A throwing away of expectations to be “agreeable.”
But I do understand that raising your voice and renouncing patience is a privilege within itself that not all Women have the access or promise of safety to express.
In one single day:
I have patience for the man who cat called me in front of the business I OWN.
I have patience when an article reminded me that November 20th was Latina Equal Pay Day. This means that Latinas had to work all of 2018 and until that day in 2019 to catch up with what white men were paid in 2018 alone.
As a Woman and a Latina Business owner, I acknowledge the sacrifices of my mother and I work hard to lessen that gap. Aware of the privilege I have from looking more white than Mexican, from having the last name Wilson, instead of the last name Corral. I have patience as I reconcile my identity daily.
I have patience as I work through this generationally slow process of “progress” built on the assumption of “gender equality,” the myth of merit, and the positive spin of color blindness.
I have patience when I remember that “domestic labor,” care for our elders, and childcare in the home is generally unpaid and done by Women. This is “normal,” and when we ask for a thank you instead of the paycheck we deserve, we are being “unreasonable nags.”
I have patience for my clients choosing between a career and children. Or work and childcare.
I have patience for my friends who’ve lost children or choose to be childless when people ask why they’re not pregnant yet.
I have patience for the husband who says he “helps out” with house work as if he does not live in that house.
And for the father who “babysits” his own kids.
I have patience when a man at the coffee shop tells me to smile as I wait in line.
I have patience when I remember that more than one out of every three women in the US will experience sexualized violence in their lifetime.
I think about this every day when I move my car to the front of my business because I feel unsafe walking to the parking lot in the dark at 7pm. Yet, I am patient.
I have patience when I think about my experiences with stalking, harassment, and emotional and verbal abuse. I try my best to be polite when I am triggered and expected to remain “emotionally stable” and “grateful” because I am no longer experiencing those things on a daily basis.
I have patience when I’m asked if I’m upset because I’m “on my period.”
I have patience when I learn that women are the fastest growing prison population with their incarceration rate currently growing at twice the pace of men’s. Roughly half are in prison for nonviolent drug and property offenses.
It is still legal across much of the United States to shackle women giving birth in prisons, or to deny them prenatal care altogether, forcing them to give birth alone in a prison cell. I have patience when I read this.
I have patience when I read about a woman in Alabama being charged with murder for killing her rapist in self defense. Aren’t Women allowed to “stand their ground?”
I have patience thinking of all the women and girls without access to food, clean water, health care and education.
When I’m told to be less angry and vocal about this injustice because I am “lucky” enough to have these things, I have patience.
In the US, 3-4 women will be KILLED by an intimate partner each DAY. I read this and remain patient.
To the Woman who experiences more injustice in one week than I have in my entire life, I know this letter will fall short. But I try to be aware of my privilege and address it as such.
This letter is not meant to be a compete rendering of every injustice.
It is an open acknowledgment of how impossible it seems for Women to be patient and polite in this world. But we are. Because our survival has, and still does, depend on it in many cases.
Despite every hint and clue that would lead someone with any bit of common sense and emotion to scream and shout with anger, disappointment, frustration, and sadness, we still find the strength to remain “composed.”
Dear Woman who continues to live, experience, and learn about these realities and remain “agreeable” at the end of each long day,
Dear Woman who goes home and simply cannot fake politeness for one more second and is accused of being “short-tempered,”
I hear you. And I’m done being patient.
The easiest way to disregard a woman’s voice is to package her as a scold.
– Michelle Obama