“What a Nasty Woman!”
This is what we get called when our need for truth-telling outweighs our need for approval. When the anger, passion and injustice flood over the dam of societal convention that dictates women are to be small, quiet, uncomplicated and, above all, pleasant.
Why is that the first insult leveled at a woman who dares to step out in front and call a spade a spade, or, as in the case of a Mayor Cruz of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a disaster a disaster? If the Mayor of San Juan were a man, you know the narrative would be different. Just that one word, nasty, has the power to denigrate both a woman’s character and physicality. It is a uniquely misogynistic insult and an unlikely feminist rallying cry.
But a rallying cry it has become. Embracing your inner “Nasty woman” has been for a while the preserve of the third-wave feminist. Worn with a pink knitted hat, the nasty woman T-shirt is practically a 21st century feminist uniform, declaring opposition to the patriarchal put down in the most elemental way. But what if we, women who don’t fully identify with all the causes of a secular feminist movement, and yet full of vim and vinegar as many of us are, embrace it too? What does it mean to let the world fully see us? How much better will the world, and yes, even the church, be served when we use our voices and our gifts to full effect.
This is part of my journey in rediscovering my identity. The inner work of shaking off outer conformity requires me to look full into the face of the nasty woman inside. The woman who is loud, opinionated, and often angry in a culture that idolizes the quiet, submissive and gentle woman. The woman who comes out as a 7 and 8 on the Enneagram; Types exclusively reserved for my Brothers in Christ. The woman who is ENTJ on Myers Briggs, and DI on the DISC test.
For almost a decade, I have lived in the heart of Bible Belt society, I have learned the ways, tried to conform (mostly unsuccessfully), have thrown myself into “approved” activities and groups, but at every turn, I find that nasty woman rising up and challenging. Not challenging Jesus, but challenging a culture that many small ways (and some large ways) seems to say;
” A good woman would be quiet. An excellent woman would prefer caring for her family over speaking out over injustice. A woman is for the home, for the family, for her husband. The men don’t need your voice. Quiet, dear, the men are talking! Isn’t it enough for you to raise Godly children? Be satisfied with your lot. Don’t complicate it, the system is for your good. Be pleasant, that is how you win influence”
And herein lies the rub, most of those things aren’t inherently bad… and if you are reading this, you don’t need me to point out the egregiously misogynistic ones. But what those voices say, over and over to me is that I am not good, or excellent, or satisfied!
These voices declare that the very nature of me, which, to quote the Enneagram “exemplifies the desire for freedom and variety and for exploring the many rich experiences that life offers. Thus, they are probably the most enthusiastic, extroverted, and outgoing type of the Enneagram….Eights are assertive and passionate about life, meeting it head on with self-confidence and strength. They have learned to stand up for themselves and have a resourceful, “can-do” attitude. They are determined to be self-reliant and free to pursue their own destiny. ” … is unacceptable, is nasty.
I know I am not alone in this. I also know that this is not everyone’s experience, but in the interest of being a truth-teller, I will risk the inevitable censure of my peers to offer a hand of solidarity to the younger ones coming after me and to say, “Here I am.”
To you, my sweet younger sisters, I say,
“Come, let’s be whole together. Let’s battle and explore and fight injustice. Let’s discover and share and teach, because the world needs you. The world needs your voice, your passion, your creativity and your compassion. The world is not served by your shrinking but by your blooming into the fullness of the fierce warrior you are created to be!”