The Independent Woman – A Rage Letter

the independent woman

I remember the day like it was yesterday.

I remember how my drunk uncle grinned at me at a family’s dinner with his blurry eyes as the rest of my family sat around us and didn’t say anything. They avoided looking at me as if that would make the statement he just made not real. Like it could be ignored. Like it was just a dumb joke. 

So, after we had the whole annoying discussion again of “why the hell haven’t I had a boyfriend yet?!“, he suddenly and finally had THE answer! It came to him like a struck of lightning. 

“I know why”, he pointed out with a heavy tongue. “You’re too independent! And you’re too smart! That’s why men don’t get one up.”

Then he laughed at me while I was in total shock. 

Did he really just say that to me?

Did he just straight-out tell me that my intellect and independence would turn men off?

How could YOU?

This hurt me because I felt so insulted and humiliated by my uncle. But what made it, even more, worse is that he was my freaking godfather!

He was supposed to support me and tell me that I can do anything I set my mind to. And that there’s nothing wrong with ME. That I’m great and that the men who wouldn’t see that are idiots. He should have been on my side.

But instead, he told me straight to my face that I’m too independent and too smart and therefore, I would never get a man.

As I think about this, it makes me so furious! 

Because I know, there was a small part of me that believed him. There was a a small voice that whispered: 

Maybe he’s right? Maybe I shouldn’t behave like I don’t need anyone else. Men like to be needed, right?

I was in my mid-20s at that time and I remember how I sat there, while he humiliated me in front of my family, and I started to question myself. Maybe because no one from my family defended me or told him to “fuck off”. 

But thank the Gods, it was just a tiny moment, before …. 

Beware the rage!

Rage sparked in my body and exploded right into my soul. I started trembling and was struggling to control my words. But I knew this rage. It was an old friend.

I’ve been living with it for a long time. Ever since I had started to question the beliefs and conditions of the environment I grew up in. When I started to think for myself and didn’t like how “things” are said or done because it’s been like that forever. 

Unfortunately, even though I got really mad at my uncle and wanted to strike him with my intellect and independence, that’s when my family decided to drop in to “de-escalate” the situation.

“Come on, Jule, don’t be so mad. He’s drunk. He didn’t mean it.”  

“Yeah, that was just a dumb joke.”

“Don’t make a fuss about it.”

I don’t know what makes me angrier. That I swallowed my hurt and rage and tried to avoid a conflict because of my family’s feelings. Because I didn’t want to “destroy this nice family get-together”. 

Or that my family shut me down, instead of joining me with a battle cry and strike down the guy who humiliated me. 

The sad thing is that this wasn’t the last time I was confronted with stupid reasons why I can’t find a man. Especially with turning 30 years old (because that seems to set off an alarm with people if you’re still single as a woman), I often hear sentences like: 

“You’re just too strong”, “You’re too focused on your career”, “Men like to be needed. And you’re coming off as too independent”, “Why can’t you find a nice man?” “Maybe you should be more … like other women?”…etc

This list could go on and on. There are so many reasons why people think I should change, so I’d find a man. 

But why me though?

Why do I need to make myself smaller because apparently, some men can’t stand a strong woman? Why do I need to behave more dependently because some men feel threatened by an independent woman?

And why the fuck is the most important question of my relatives, family, and random strangers: 

Why are you still single, Jule? 

Because I fucking love it! 

I love being independent. I love following my dreams and working hard for them. I love my life and how it unfolds, while I don’t need to compromise. 

I’m enjoying the ride and if a man comes around, who loves me for who I am and who respects my independence and strength, then AWESOME! And welcome to the party, pal. 

But if not, well, fuck it.

I don’t give a fuck about if you get one up or not. 

Because I won’t change to please a man. I won’t make myself dumber to impress a man. And I won’t make myself fucking dependant on anyone. Especially no one with a penis. 

And if you feel the urge to tell me now: Don’t worry, you’ll find the right partner. There’s a man for you out there. 

Em, thanks? But I know that. 

That’s the other thing everyone keeps telling me after I proudly declare myself to be a single woman. As if to reassure me that I shouldn’t worry about it, while they worry a lot about my relationship status.

As if they think that this is my primary goal in life: find a man. 

No, it’s not. Actually. So, please stop telling me that.

Instead, ask me about my goals, my dreams, my favorite books or tv show, and maybe even about my latest obsession (it might be still about Marvel characters). Just ask me anything that would make me feel like you care about me as a person, and not just my relationship status. And then, maybe after we talked about all the other interesting topics, then you can ask me about my love life and respect my answer however it may be.

Why am I raging about this anyways?

You might be asking yourself why I’m telling you all that. And why the fuck I’m swearing all the time?!

Maybe it’s because I turned 30 this year and I can feel how my family focuses more on my love life than anything else, and it’s fucking annoying. Or maybe that topic has been raging in my soul for a very long time. Ever since my uncle humiliated me because of my intellect and independence.

Maybe this is a reminder for me that when a situation like this happens again, I’m going to leave the table or just smack him right into his stupid grinning face. Just kidding. I would never hurt anyone. Anyways, you should never allow anyone to talk to you like this. Not if he’s drunk, not ever.

Maybe that’s why I decided to speak up. Maybe that’s why I needed to write this to tell myself: you won’t stay silent anymore. You won’t swallow the rage. You won’t just nod and force-smile to avoid a conflict.

Man, family dinners will get very interesting in the future.

If you’re still reading this, I deeply appreciate it. This is something very personal that I needed to share. Also, thanks for letting me swear.

Also, my fellow independent ladies and gents who can handle us, when in doubt, listen to Destiny’s Child “Independent Women”:

Tell me how you feel about this: Do what I want, live how I wanna live. I worked hard and sacrificed to get what I get. Ladies, it ain’t easy being independent.

— Destiny’s Child

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