Dear Diary: 23 Characteristics of a Strong Woman

WORDS BY EMILY ZHENG / @CRINGING_

Art by ambivanlentlyyours.tumblr.com
I recently came across the list  "23 Characteristics of a Classy Lady" by Empowering Women Now, which is "a place for women to feel empowered and get to the bottom of issues that really matter." As a site that apparently preaches feminism, the list shocked me.

It seemed to be aimed towards satisfying men instead of inspiring women to be decent people. I sent an email to the website in an attempt to have the article taken down.

To the Empowering Women Now Team,

I recently came by your article "23 Characteristics of A Classy Lady," and it troubled me. As a website that claims to "change the modern feminist movement in the United States," you expressed some concerning views. Your list tells women to "Dress tastefully. The key here is to dress with dignity...[with clothes] that cover your bits" and "She does not call him. A classy lady knows her worth and knows she deserves to be pursued." 

The truth is women should wear what they feel most confident in. Women are not a prize for men. They're fully capable of pursuing relationships themselves. What your list neglects is the reality that women are complex individuals who aren't always prim and perfect.

If anything, your "23 Characteristics of a Classy Lady" is an anti-feminist piece that teaches women how to conform. Although it promotes positive characteristics such as "She defends the truth even when it isn’t popular. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and is passionate to see the oppressed redeemed," it is ultimately teaching impressionable women that they exist to please men.

Please consider taking the article down as it is unhealthy and detrimental for your readers to be exposed to this type of content.

Thank you.

As I have yet to receive a reply from the Empowering Women Now staff, I took it upon myself to create my own list, one that actually represents women.

Here are 23 Characteristics of a Strong Woman (any quote directly taken from the article by Empowering Women Now is italicized):

1. Refrain from using vulgar language. A strong woman speaks what she feels. If that means vulgar language, then she shouldn't be limited by petty societal standards.

2. A strong woman has big ideas and a powerful voice. She wants to change the world, and she chases her dreams.

3. A strong woman is compassionate. She's kind, down-to-earth, intelligent, but she sure as hell isn't boring.

4. A strong woman isn't afraid to be herself. She's confident, and she's proud of it.

5. A strong woman does not compete with her friends but supports them.

6. Dress tastefully. The key here is to dress with dignity...[with clothes] that cover your bits. A strong woman wears what she feels the most confident in. She wears skin-tight dresses and heels and red lipstick. She wears baggy sweatpants and over-sized t-shirts and no makeup. She wears dressy blazers and boyfriend jeans and sneakers. She wears whatever the hell she wants because attire does not define whether a woman is strong.

7. A strong woman is complex. She doesn't pretend to be the one-dimensional female character in movies, the girl who is completely driven by a man. She has opinions. She's independent. She's real.

8. A strong woman is beautiful before she takes off her glasses. She doesn't need some transformation to prove her worth.

9. A strong woman isn't fearless and she doesn't pretend to be. A strong woman is vulnerable. She has feelings, and they don't make her any less strong.

10. A strong woman is pretty. She isn't. A strong woman isn't defined by her appearance.

11. A strong woman does not perpetuate stereotypes. She doesn't impose unjust expectations upon others.

12. A strong woman doesn't criticize others for appearance, economic status, race, or sexuality.

13. Avoid saying “hi,” or “um” because that will make you look unrefined. A strong woman realizes that being unrefined isn't always a bad thing. She also knows that merely saying, "Hi," is not a shame.

14. A strong woman is a feminist.

15. A strong woman isn't afraid to speak out for what she believes in.

16.  She does not call him. A classy lady knows her worth and knows she deserves to be pursued. A strong woman calls him. She also doesn't. She knows her worth but doesn't need to be pursued to be satisfied.

17. A strong woman is not defined by her sexual history.

18. A strong woman does not have to be born a woman. Transgender women are strong women.

19. When you order on a date have consideration for your gentleman. Don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu. A strong woman doesn't assume that the guy will pay for the first date. She also isn't necessarily straight.

20. A strong woman does not tear down other women. She respects and supports them.

21. Have your date pick you up on the first date. It may not be convenient but the last thing you want to be is “convenient”. A strong woman does not trouble her date in fear of being "convenient".

22. A strong woman is someone who others call a slut, a prude, a tease. Others call her obnoxious, reserved, funny, smart, boring, complex. A strong woman is strong no matter what people label her.

23. A strong woman doesn't need anyone to complete her. She is whole.

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