Diva. Arrogant. Too emotional. Insensitive. Changeable. In a hurry. When Maranda Pleasant, Founder + Editor of Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine asked me all the names I’ve been called on my way to where I am/who I am…well that was easy to recall. I’ve also been called Flakey. Too poetic. And as if it was going to lead to the downfall of humanity, I’ve been called Romantic and Idealistic. Gasp.
Unfortunately, I was not surprised at how many other women in this magazine feature have been called Too Emotional. It reminded me of a time when my first company was going up in flames. One of the investor dudes told me, “You know Danielle, you shouldn’t be too emotional about this. It’s business.” Hunh. “First of all, this is not what ‘too emotional’ looks like,” I said to him. Because I could have shown him ‘too emotional’ and thrown some coffee pots, or cried uncontrollably, or e-blasted some people’s dirty little secrets to the entire database. That woulda been too emotional. I took a deep breath and said, “You know, maybe if I’d been more ‘emotional’ this shit wouldn’t be going down.”
And by that I meant…maybe if I’d been more in touch with my heart, with my body cues, with my feelings — I would have played it very differently. I would have — and this seems to be the universal learning/regret — I would have spoke the fuck up a lot sooner. Instead, I muffled my own agency to play along. Because I didn’t want to appear, you know, too emotional. And it blew up.
Of course mental instability can present itself with wild mood swings and extreme emotionality. We’re not talking about instability here — we’re talking about strength. I should also mention that feelings and emotions are different things. That’s a conversation that I get into in The Desire Map.
What’s important for the topic of women being mislabeled and put down, put out, put off is to know that strong feelings from women are often labelled in a derogatory way. Too much anger, too much passion, sadness, grief, lust, compassion, caring. Except “too much” is a relative term, inn’t? It’s ESPECIALLY relative — and destructive — when a male is trying to tame the inner power of a female by belittling it…inn’t?
To plumb the depths of this in one elegant dive, I bow to radical feminist and civil rights activist, Audre Lorde:
As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge. We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world, which values this depth of feeling enough to keep women around in order to exercise it in the service of men, but which fears this same depth too much to examine the possibilities of it within themselves. So women are maintained at a distant/inferior position to be psychically milked, much the same way ants maintain colonies of aphids to provide a life-giving substance for their masters.
Hunh. Now that’s some truth-slinging. Did you think being called “Too emotional” was such an act of oppression? Maybe you should think about it.
And then stop thinking and start feeling — a lot more. And start talking about how you feel — a lot more.
And you know what will happen? You will start to be more aware of how you feel, more of the time — the tenderness, the rage, the genius, the sorrow, the Love. You will feel your power, and you will direct it into the world. Notice that I did not say, “let your power loose into the world”? No. Direct it. Because that’s the respectful thing to do with that incredible, deeply feeling, intelligent heart of yours.
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