Marie Roker-Jones teaches us how to be independent without disrespecting an entire gender.
The other day I saw an image on a Facebook page in which a mom and her daughter stated “I don’t need a man” with a shadow of a man leaving the house in the background. The picture represents one of the most celebrated statements uttered by women. I have to be honest and say that I hear this most often from black women than any other group of women.
Some women use this statement as a defense mechanism to explain being single or express their disappointment or distrust of men. Where does that leave boys and men? In the effort to raise girls to be strong and independent, women are conveying the wrong message by telling girls that they don’t need men. First of all, we should teach all children to be independent and self-sufficient. People shouldn’t need other people. However, we were created for human relationships. By nature, we are social creatures and benefit from connecting and interacting with others.
Stating “I don’t need a man” doesn’t help girls or women become strong, confident, and independent. I get it, we want to ensure girls and young women understand that they don’t need a man to be or feel complete. What we really should be telling girls is:
- You don’t need a man who’ll disrespect you
- You don’t need a man who doesn’t appreciate your efforts and contribution
- You don’t need a man who is too insecure to let you own your greatness
- You don’t need a man who only sees you as a sexual object
My mother taught my brother and I life skills so that we can care for ourselves and not rely on anyone for our financial, emotional, spiritual or physical well-being. She never stated to me “You don’t need a man”. When I was a child, I never doubted my mother’s confidence, power or strength. She didn’t depend on my father to make her feel whole. I understood the difference between “want” and “need”.
Also, let’s think about what this statement tells boys. If our sons overhear us saying this, what are they learning about themselves as men? We don’t want to undermine the roles that boys and men play in our lives. If we want to raise a generation of empowered women and compassionate men, we must begin to change our what we say. It’s not about needing anyone, it’s about being true to yourself, practicing self-care and maintaining your individuality, even when you’re in a relationship. Let’s not dismiss boys and men as an inconvenience in our lives.
Image Credit: myravery/Flickr