As men are to honour and respect, so are women to strength and dignity. Speaking of quiet strength does not mean that the woman is to be intimidated and down-played. It does not mean that she should only be seen and not heard. Quiet strength is neither crying foul over perceived male dominance in a free society nor yapping for unmerited consideration on the nuances of femininity.
I would say that quiet strength in a woman is about challenging the many self-imposed and societal conventions that limit our potential, constrain our efforts and contest our mental and intellectual capacities. It is the kind of strength that raises its voice, not to shout, but to cry for the voiceless in society, its echo resounding for generations. It is the strength that perceives injustice in the face of adversity and battles it out in the protected occupation of womanhood. She perceives that keeping silent is as a slow cancer advancing towards the soul. It is the hint of cowardice.
It is encouraging that our society today is bringing up its girls more like boys. The boy child and the girl child have equal opportunities. A girl is allowed the freedom to dream and dream big while at it, not plagued by dire prophecies of doom that men would be intimidated by her. For strength is an admirable badge of honour on a woman and any man worth his salt would do himself good to ensure his woman’s strength is fortified. A girl today can be anything she wants to be. I believe that the greatest gift society has given the woman today is the opportunity to contest in the arena of life on equal grounds.
Growing up and surrounded by fairy tale books about Disney princesses who were lucky enough to find their prince charming, I would get lost in the wild garden of my imagination. It is at once my strength and also my weakness. It would carry me to the very thrills of the lucky princess but bring me to the ground with a thud into the reality of the world. A reality in which a girl is forced by circumstances to grow up too quickly and be a woman, when she would much rather remain a girl; Climbing trees and skinny dipping in the village rivers (excuse her innocence). But the fact that a woman should learn to fight her own battles is an admirable trait. Such a woman grows into one who is not flattered by the makings of fortune in a man but is flattered by the strength of his character and nobility of his actions. She does not wait to marry into success but defines success on her own terms, and gets it. She has dreams in her heart, intelligence in her head and faith in her heart.
It is something for every girl to aspire for. To aspire to establish her confidence and self-worth in whom she is and not on the definitions labelled upon her by people. To aspire to build her esteem so high that she cannot be suckered into dressing too tight too short dresses and wearing her makeup so hilariously as to attract the attention of a man with as weak an ego as hers, mayhaps weaker. To aspire to be the kind of woman who inspires elegance in others, awakening an intrinsic desire in women to up their game in life. To arouse intelligence in women such that they learn they do not have to conform their thinking patterns to that of a man to imply some modicum of chemistry. That they do not necessarily have to laugh at every joke he makes to imply some rhyming sense of humour. That they should be fully committed in their journey of self-discovery, learning the girl within who never grew up, the elegant lady whose inner strength draws others to her with great charisma and the woman who knows that the game of life and its outcome thereof is up to her. That intelligence on a woman glows more than her makeup ever would allow.
Then, dark raisins of womanhood will rhyme with the illumination within.
Let the woman be born and handled warmly. Let her dance to the melodies in the soft strings of Zoe. Let us celebrate the women who have reached the end of themselves but persevered to the end of their own rainbows.