I Will Never Be a Well-Behaved Woman

By: Kathleen Burk

I Will Never Be a Well-Behaved Woman

Tags: women in business, women leaders, women for women, real estate

I Will Never Be a Well-Behaved Woman


At 43 years old, at a round table discussion of matters, something happened....as I got up to refill my coffee, I asked the others if they too needed a refill. This I was taught to simply be good public manners. “Thank you Grandma.” This was met with a yes please and it was also met with a “No Thank you” but not the kind you may think. It was met with a gesture of a back handed maneuver sliding an empty cup in my direction with the intent to have me clear an empty dish and no eye contact. Hmmmm.  

I would have been happy to remove the clutter from the table if the request came from a place of humility and service. It did not. The strange thing was I had no problem with where the request came from, I don’t particularly care that it likely came from a misogynistic lens. I don’t care that it was directed at me personally. I realized....I don’t care to crusade for change. I do however care about how I react. I didn’t take the cup, I didn’t joke, I didn’t twirl my hair to masquerade the fact that I was insulted and hurt and now distracted from a meeting. I said “I’m not here to clean up after you.”  For the first time I acknowledged the fact that I was embarrassed at not being treated with respect, and that was a gritty place to land and there was no shortage of “realness” in that realization.  

I don’t think my comment was heard, or if it was, it was certainly not acknowledged and I realized that it wasn’t my job to change another’s view of my duties or god forbid this person's general view of women. It was however, my job to stay true to my reaction. My reaction of remaining dignified and somehow indignant to the un-evolved mindset, not of chauvinism but of being unaware. I was there as a human being and I was willing to accept the indecency and meet it head on. 

Fast forward to 44. The second time ever in my life it was made obvious to me that I was not, as a woman, respected as a human being BECAUSE I was female. It was so obvious it was palpable. Again, I realized it wasn’t my duty to change the source, it was my duty to be principled and steadfast in my response. My response this time “No. That’s not going to work for me.” My No was not responded and that was just fine.  

My whole life, the example that has been modeled for me is one of reverence toward women, public outcries from my father, uncles, grandfathers, pastors, teachers and my husband that without women the world may stop spinning. My closest friends are men and I trust every single one of them to see me as an autonomous person. All my life I have been encouraged and supported by the men in my life not to have to be a well –behaved woman. I assure you I am not. 

I am not a well-behaved Woman. I am committed to myself. I will do what is best for me. I will not ask you to change but I will change parts of me to continue to honour what feels right for me. I will not succumb to views that don’t align with what is right for me but I will not ask you to change yours either. 

I will meet you from a place that is real, and educated, independent and authentic. You might not like it but that’s alright. I am not here for you.  

To my tribe of Women, you inspire me. To the women who are too afraid to not be well-behaved, you will get there and we will be waiting for you. Most importantly to the men who love women who are not well behaved, you are heroes, we are not easy. You are the bravest of the brave. To my husband thank you for the space to be anything I want to be. To those that are afraid of us.....You are missing out.