I have been following the Instagram account Girlgaze for some time now as they post beautiful photos taken by mostly female photographers. They share plenty of gorgeous work but one post that really captivated my attention was about “radical softness as a weapon“, an idea created by an artist called Lora Mathis. Girlgaze explained it as: “Radical softness is the idea that unapologetically sharing your emotions is a political move and a way to combat the societal idea that feelings are a sign of weakness.”
Though I’m not sure about the wording exactly (‘weapon’ in particular sounds too violent to me), the idea that sharing your feelings as a way of fighting the stigma of being “emotional” did strike a cord with me. I’ve always hated how talking about how you feel, which is great for your mental health and creating healthy relationships, is generally seen as being weak… Whereas staying silent, keeping it all in and retaining a composed facade whilst having an internal break down and staying distant from people is seen as being strong by society?
The more I think about this idea of silent equals strong and vocal equals weak, the more I am convinced it is down to sexist bullshit. Even now, people love to throw around the word “emotional” as an insult, and it is usually associated with women. “Don’t be so emotional, are you on your period or something?” are two common phrases that go together, for example. Emotional means feminine and therefore weak. It’s the equivalent of “Stop being such a girl!”.
It’s 2018 now, and we have had thousands of years of evidence that girls are strong as hell, so first we need to completely get rid of this idea that women are weak. Secondly, humans are not robots. We all have emotions, whatever gender we identify as – being open sinply varies from person to person.
I’ve always been fairly open, particularly with my feelings, and despite many small digs about it over the years from people, I’m proud of it. For me, the only time I was hesitant to share my feelings was when I was really depressed, because that negative voice in my head was telling me that I would be annoying people with my feelings. Now that I’m feeling better, I know that if someone does get annoyed by listening to how you feel, then they aren’t a good friend and you shouldn’t let it affect you. Talking about emotions is better for your health, it’s essentially an act of self care.
Rejecting this stigma is something that I’ve been doing for years without giving it a name. Being emotional is not a bad thing. It is not a feminine trait – everyone has emotions and it varies completely between person to person how naturally open we are, regardless of gender. I think it’s important to see the strength in sharing and I for one am going to continue being radically soft.