Maya Angelou's poem "Phenomenal Woman" elevated even the most insecure woman to a level in which she could hold her head high. Her words drew imagery of a proud woman who carries herself with the grace of a regal and rare creature.
Confidence emitting through her every action, this woman was the essence of unquestionable beauty and charm, catching the eye of even the most distinguished men, even though her features were nothing extraordinary. What shone through her feminine facade was beauty that did not need to be classed by the shape of her body or anything physical at all. Just her being and knowing who she was in her own skin, in the presence of onlookers and alone. What has happened to this woman that Maya Angelou penned these words so effortlessly on paper?
Much debate has been made about statistics surrounding the single status of black women in particular. Although this state cannot be confined to just one group of women, there is a certain universality that crosses ethnic boundaries. There has been created no longer this image of a phenomenal woman, but a stereotypical one. Who is she and is she in you?
Television and movies have permanently captured women as they once were: so worthy of honor that men rose to their feet out of respect in their presence. Today we have seen that this tradition has completely fallen away in this part of the world. Is it because men have lost their respect for women? Probably. Is it because women have lost respect for themselves? Definitely.
Many women bristle at the idea that they may fall into the stereotypical category, but we see these stereotypes perpetrated all around us. Women who are just as rude and brash as any man and women who lack the basic tenets of respect for the men in their lives, whether they be their romantic interests, employers or employees. Let's look at womankind today as if we are looking at ourselves in a mirror. What would our reflection be?
We live in a society where independence among women defines us. Women, regardless of background, unequivocally state on a regular basis that we don't need anyone to do anything for us. And it's true. Sometimes we don't. We also have a laundry list of qualifications that any potential love must meet before they can come into our lives, and rightly so because our choice in whom we attach ourselves to determines our future.
However, unlike Miss Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman," the stereotypical woman defines herself by her ability to have her own life and to depend on no one, even to the point of emasculating the very men she wants to attract.
The stereotypical woman refuses to carry herself with dignity and grace as she chooses to embody the bravado of a man within the confines of her femininity. The stereotypical woman regards beauty as the prime thing, but inside her heart is shallow and lacks the depth natural to her gender. Determined never to succumb to the charm of any man, the stereotypical woman aims to take any and all authority over her emotions to the point of cold calculation.
Unlike Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman," who was the poetic invention of the writer's reality, the stereotypical woman has become the reality of many. She too is a woman though, stereotypically. Stereotypical woman, is that you?