“it actually doesn’t take much to be considered a difficult woman. that’s why there are so many of us.” (jane goodall)
and because of just exactly this, i will tread lightly as i write.
for the rules are still different in this world – the rules for men, the rules for women. the word “difficult” – and arriving at the word “difficult” – should present its own debate. how does one get this label, one would ask. does difficult mean speaking up, speaking out? does difficult mean raising the bar on expectations? does difficult equate with uncompromising? is agile adaptability difficult? does talent or education or expertise or experience make one difficult? is difficult attached to success? does difficult mean not accepting discriminatory treatment? is difficult shunning a lack of respect or other indignities? does difficult mean pointing out the lack of transparency in an organization, an institution, a company? does difficult mean urging truth? does difficult mean following process? does difficult mean requesting financial equity between genders, between races? does difficult mean asking to be rewarded on one’s merits? does difficult mean asking hard questions? does difficult mean – heavens forbid – talking back? does difficult mean suggesting change? does difficult describe “good trouble“?
do those things applied to a woman make her difficult? do those things applied to a man make him difficult? is the measuring stick different? might there be a double standard? just where is the dividing line and why is there one?
if indeed those define “difficult”, i’d further suggest that a difficult man is considered a powerhouse, a strong leader, a go-getter whereas a difficult woman is considered, well, difficult, out-of-line, disrespectful, even egregious.
jane goodall is right. it doesn’t take much to be considered a difficult woman. not back in the day. not now.
and for that, i would hope that all women would get mighty difficult.