On Being a Misbehaving Woman

I am not a well-behaved woman.

Granted, this depends entirely on what you consider a well-behaved woman to be. For many, a well-behaved woman is one who doesn’t rock the boat, who is demure and quiet, who doesn’t make a fuss. A woman who knows when to speak (which is rarely) and when to listen (which is, most often).

I used to be this kind of well-behaved woman. I was quiet, didn’t make a fuss, kept in the background. Not rocking the boat was almost my religion.

Of course, I had thoughts. I just chose not to share them. What if someone argues with me? What if I am wrong? Having someone think I was an idiot was once my greatest fear.

It’s been about 5 months since I’ve done away with that.

It’s funny: it was the smallest, most innocuous thing that set me off and opened a tidal wave of opinions, research, and ranting.

I am not a well-behaved woman.

I can’t shrug my shoulders and say “that’s just how the world is.” I can’t stop my fingers from typing a well-crafted response to something that does not represent the reality. I can’t keep myself from crying alone in bed when I am confronted with how terrible the world is.

I’ve had people tell me I shouldn’t be doing what I do, shouldn’t be working with kids. “I feel sorry for your students,” they say, knowing nothing about what I actually do in the classroom. “Someone so emotionally unstable shouldn’t be teaching young people,” having no clue that the passion he considers “unstable” is exactly why I can’t stop.

This has been an interesting time in my life while I’ve been doing this. I’ve gained friends and lost them, I’ve had great support and hurtful criticism. I’ve been energized, I’ve been tired, and I’ve felt self-conscious. What if people want me to stop? What if people want me to shut up?

The thing is… I don’t care. Yes, I have moments of doubt just like anyone else would. But I believe in what I’m doing. I believe in what I’m saying. It’s not about being a keyboard warrior: it’s that I have to fight for the good in the world.

I have this deep, deep desire to educate, discuss, argue, debate, and open a dialogue. I have to change the world in whatever ways I can – which isn’t much. My sphere of influence is small but I will throw myself into it with all I’ve got.

Sometimes people understand it.

Often, people don’t.

It doesn’t mean I do it perfectly. Sometimes I should resist, sometimes I speak too harshly, but sometimes the pain and frustration and rage bubble over – I am sorry for that. But I have to do this. I feel all of this in every cell of my body, and I would be doing myself and those I care about a disservice if I didn’t speak up.

Maybe we are all too comfortable with women swallowing their discomfort or their anger. Maybe we are all too comfortable with looking to men for the answers.

But now, we are speaking. Now we are expressing our anger.

I am not a well-behaved woman.

So watch me make history.

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