Sunday, August 02, 2015
Fight Like A Girl...
We don't know
how STRONG we
are until being
strong is the only
CHOICE we have.
He didn't mean to offend me. He was probably in his early to mid seventies, maybe even eighty, and walked with a cane. I knew his comment came from ignorance. Or perhaps he was just trying to be funny...and it wasn't. Not funny at all. I hate to think he just said this to be mean.
He saw her at the grocery store wearing a sweatshirt that had a breast cancer symbol and on the front of the sweatshirt the words...
We don't know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have.
She was probably in her late twenties. She might have been wearing it for her own battle with cancer or her mother's or sister's or best friend's battle.
On the back of the sweatshirt it said.."Fight Like A Girl!"
He stopped her, chuckled and said...
"What is it with you women that you have to make such a big deal about everything. You don't see men going around with sweatshirts that say they have prostate cancer and need everyone to support them."
She was stunned and looked at him, staying right where she was, almost afraid to move.
I was stunned. I was in complete disbelief.
I reminded myself that he was a child of God and that I should treat him as such. Really...truly...I wanted to pick up boxes of cereal with the pictures of the women who won the World Title in soccer and throw them at him. I know. Not a kind, first internal response.
The words "fight like a girl" take me way, way back. Back to the days when women wouldn't have considered being a doctor or dentist or surgeon or lawyer or President, or boxer or professional soccer player. Back to the days when there were no sports teams for the women at my high school. Not a single one. Nada. Nothing.
Back to the days when women didn't work out or go to a gym or run a race. When women were called "the weaker sex" and never said a word when that was said with a slur.
Back to the days when women were afraid to be too smart or too bold or too strong. It wasn't "feminine" you know.
The words "You fight like a girl" were almost a slur. They were a putdown. Underneath those dangerous words was the notion that as a girl I wasn't strong or tough or brave.
That was then and this is now.
Maybe the gentleman at Safeway just hadn't caught up with the times. The teacher in me wanted to educate him.
So I said, as gently as I could muster...
"Sir, if you don't mind my asking, how old are you?
He replied that he was 83 years old. I explained
that now a days many women wore sweatshirts with those words to support themselves and others as they fought cancer. I suggested that many of us women found strength in community. I mentioned that the words "fight like a girl!" were now a battle cry, a reminder of how strong we are.
Now we, as women, go into battle and lose our lives for our country, just like men do. Now we, as women, are proud of fighting like a girl. It was no longer something to be ashamed of. I mentioned that I was 68 and remembered very well how that phrase got used, then. And even gets used, now.
I reminded him, ever so gently, that we made a "big deal" about cancer so we could get funding as well as support each other. I suggested that he had probably meant no harm, but that the young lady wearing the sweatshirt might have hurt feelings because of what he said.
And then I just looked at him, praying all the while.
Brandon, that was his name, turn to her and said, "I'm so sorry, that wasn't nice of me to say." She nodded at him and then walked around the corner.
Two older women down the aisle looked at me and silently clapped and smiled. Brandon thanked me for teaching him "how things are today" and moved on.
And to all of the important women in my life, and those of you I don't know, may all of us feel our full strength and not be limited by the expectations of others. May we not buy into old labels and putdowns, but instead use all the strength God gave us to do His work!
And to all of my breast cancer fighting sisters...
How proud I am to say that you...
Fight like a girl!
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