Laura Ulrich used the above sentence in her history of unknown puritan women. You may have seen the slightly altered “Well behaved women rarely make history” on anything from a car to a mug to a t-shirt to a book. I read it in a book by a Christian Female Preacher. The Sweet Potato Queens put it into their theme song.
I admit it’s a brilliant quote.
But I wasn’t surprised to read in Ulrich’s account of the slogan’s impact that it had caused a lot of women to justify the most wild and uncouth behavior.
Bad girls have more fun they say. Kind of like nice guys finish last.
Well I submit to you that nice guys only finish last with women who don’t like nice.
I wouldn’t be one of those. Though I admit I can’t stand tame.
And that’s the thing, I don’t think the term wild is a bad word. I hear it used as if it were bad. Wild is used as synonymous with out of control, crazy, rebellious, and bad behaved.
But in my book, wild just means something is in its natural state. Untamed by man. But it does not mean something is at odds with man.
Wild things can be a gift. The only way to survive in the wilderness is knowing how to live off wild stuff. A wild animal tends to have instincts that a domestic one doesn’t. There is something raw and yet vulnerable about wildness that touches us.
But what about being well behaved? I don’t think being ill behaved is the way to make history, not the kind of history I want to be remembered for. The attitude about this seems to be that as a long as a woman is making history, she is doing something noble and brave, no matter what kind of history she is making. In that way a sex icon is as important as Marie Curie.
I don’t think so. Every one has heard of Helen of Troy, everyone has heard of Joan of Arc. Which do we know more about? Which do we want to be like?
I love famous women, if they are good, and I love empowered women. I just never understood empowered to mean “Do whatever darn thing you want to get attention; talk trash about men; and abandon motherhood.” Come on ladies, is that really what it means? I bet you don’t agree with that idea either.
I think few women really think that’s how to be a real woman. Just as I hope few men think that shooting each other and getting girls knocked up is how to be a real man.
Now just for context, you guys should know I am not the kind of woman who sits back and shuts up by nature. I have been strongly hinted at that I should do this. And I can’t say, after what I’ve been reading about it, that I don’t wonder if I might have been treated differently had I been a man.
It’s hard to picture the same people telling a guy who was as enthusiastic as me to tone it down a notch. When does that ever happen?
I mean, it does happen to my dad, who’s like me in that way. So I guess it does happen to men.
I will say this, I think part of the problem is women who make themselves heard can have a very snooty attitude about it. Like we should listen to them just because they are a woman and outspoken. Funnily enough, don’t you immediately feel more interested in a woman if you hear that she’s outspoken and opinionated.
And also oddly enough, I rarely hear a man described that way. Men stating their opinions forcefully seems to be a given.
A woman who really is outspoken will be whether it’s considered normal or not. Take Katherine from “The Taming of the Shrew” as a fictional example. Women like that won’t shut up no matter how much men shake their heads. And that’s not always a positive.
I know women who will give their opinions when applied to, but they prefer to talk about more personal stuff. A woman has political opinions, sure, she probably has strong ones. She doesn’t let her husband speak for her because she’s afraid, she lets him because it’s not what she likes to talk about.
Women don’t like arguing with their friends. (Though they may like arguing with their husband or their mother.) So they don’t talk about hot topics amongst themselves. It gets too heated. It’s that simple.
I know I don’t bring up hot topics when I want to have fun with people because it’s too explosive. And I know men who don’t care if it is, but I don’t know any women like that.
This isn’t a lack of confidence, it’s just women preferring to bond without conflict. Men bond through conflict.
Not that a woman never can enjoy conflict. I enjoy it. Typically more with men then with women. I consider that to be a thing men bring out in women, for a good reason, strength calls out to strength.
In fact, women want to be part of a man’s world because the man is in it. I don’t care if I just ticked someone off. It’s still true.
How many women say they are independent of men even while saying they’ll beat them at their own game.
If you’re trying to beat the men, you’re not exactly independent of them. You have to have someone to beat.
It also backhandedly admits that men have done a lot of amazing things. And I think men have every right to keep dong amazing things. I get a real kick of beating men at stuff. But I don’t grudge them their right to win also.
I think the wild side of men is what stirs up the wild side of women. I see it all the time, women sneak into men’s conferences, women read books about what men should be like just to know what to look for, women like movies that are geared for men. (I liked Braveheart. Most women who saw it did.)
That’s not because women are weak. It’s because women are smart. We know there’s something for us in both worlds. And if men are smart, they’ll pay attention to what women like too. I don’t begrudge a man the enjoyment of a few chick flicks , some of them are meaningful stories.
Some men enjoy more feminine dominated stuff. That’s okay. In the end, it’s not what you do but the way that you do it that shows the differences between people and between genders.
I win like a girl, because I am one.
Until next time–Natasha.