The myth of the “strong, independent woman”

“Men can’t handle a strong, independent woman like me!”

How many times have you heard that one from the perpetually single women out there? It’s bandied about quite a bit these days, especially when ladies over 40 are complaining about the dating scene and their collective inability to be successful in it. To wit, here’s a comment pulled from the blogoshere on a post discussing love after 40:

I hear all the time about people trying to help women who are 40+ find a partner, in fact I was talking about this just last night to one. Through this conversation I found out: Women feel like they *have* to find someone because everyone keeps mentioning it. They tend to put up with partners that aren’t a good match, just to prove a point that they’re trying. Men in this age range tend to prefer younger women, which annoys and discourages the 40+ year old women. Correct me if I’m wrong, but men are usually wanting to support, protect and care for women, and this is harder for them to envision with a strong, busy, independent woman.

I’ll spare the unfortunate blogger’s name because she isn’t the only one who believes this tripe. Much of society—men and women—willingly buy into the myth that the “strong, independent woman” (SIW) is somehow the unfortunate victim of a dating world that devalues these catches. Sadly, it’s this kind of enabling that allows these repugnant, combative women to once again project their problems onto men. (The dark legacy of feminism rears its ugly head again!) It’s high time this SIW mythology was deconstructed and exposed for what it really is. And who better to do it than a man who’s dated his fair share of SIWs.

First, let’s look at the term itself. Proponents of this self-ascribed moniker use it to describe a woman who is not going to be any man’s doormat. An SIW, according to them, is loud and proud, and she freely speaks her mind whenever the dreaded sin of patriarchy and/or male privilege rears its ugly head. In other words, these women enjoy being combative with men and they seek out every opportunity to argue, berate, and belittle men. What’s worse, they truly believe that this obstinate behavior is a “right” and “duty” of all women, and anyone who doesn’t agree with it or understand it is just a controlling, patriarchal knuckle-dragger who is living in the Dark Ages. SIWs are on a crusade to show dominance over the male gender, and they take no prisoners and grant no quarter. In other words, the term strong, independent woman is simply a code phrase for a stubborn, entitled, selfish, and uncompromising bitch.

Take a certain SIW from my past. Long story short, my former beloved decided to take a male co-worker with her to her grandfather’s birthday party, only informing me of this after returning from said party. When I expressed my discomfort with her decision, she hopped up on her high horse and had it trample me underfoot, loudly proclaiming that a “strong, independent woman” doesn’t need anyone’s permission to have a male friend. “Okay,” I said. “What would you say if I took [name of an exceptionally hot female co-worker] to my friend’s cabin up north?” Within seconds, my SIW’s eyes became lit with the fires of righteous indignation as she declared, “You better not!” I broke up with her on the spot and ironically, eight years later, this particular 39-year-old SIW continues to live alone … not counting her six cats, of course!

Have you ever listened to a woman use the SIW excuse for being alone? I mean, really sat down and listened to her? If you do, you’ll soon realize she’s really saying it to convince herself and you’re nothing more than a surrogate audience. SIWs prefer to blame their situation on external forces rather than look within themselves to find the true source of their problems. Saying that “men can’t handle a strong, independent woman” shifts the blame onto the male gender of men (as per usual), thus sparing these miserable wretches the arduous task of indulging in even the slightest modicum of self-examination. And there is an army of like-minded SIWs out there willing to enable their sisters in their times of suffering, further perpetuating this mythology.

Given their definition of SIW, it’s no wonder why most men avoid SIWs like the plague. These women are too busy being exactly what they say they are— independent—and that’s the polar opposite of what relationships are all about. Humans are pack animals by nature, and we expect our relationships to be a partnership where both members love, respect, and above all compromise with each other for the betterment of the union. SIWs are oblivious to this concept because they’re too busy trying to prove how “strong” and “independent” they are, usually by picking fights with the men in their lives over every matter, big and small. They believe offering men love, respect, and compromise is being weak on their part, even though they demand these very same things from the men in their lives. They’re still women after all, and they better damn well be treated as such … or else!

Perhaps the saddest thing about today’s SIWs is that they have no clue about what true strength really is. All they know is the false bravado of the self-righteous. True strength comes from a willingness to be vulnerable enough to tell your partner that you are much better person with them in your life, and that you love and appreciate them for it. But then again, I’m a man, so what do I know? Maybe everything in this column is a complete fallacy. Perhaps all the SIWs out there should just ignore these words and simply continue doing what they’ve always done and hope to achieve different results.

What’s the definition of insanity again?

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: