Note: I wrote this poem after teaching fellow at Oklahoma Writing Project shared her “Just Because” poem activity. Our group pre-wrote “Just Because I’m a teacher,” but I had to think about all the stereotypes many of us as teachers face simply because we’re women. So I started this poem. At first, I only had five stanzas, so I shared the poem with my writer’s group, and asked them for their experiences with female stereotypes. They made several suggestions based on their experiences, and I incorporated them into my poem.
Just Because I’m A Strong Woman
By Michelle Waters
Just because I’m a woman who knows what I want
Doesn’t mean I think less of you.
It means I expect you to step up.
Just because I’m a woman who knows what to do
Doesn’t mean I’m bossy.
It means I’m a good leader.
Just because I’m a woman who holds back my tears
Doesn’t mean ice runs in my veins.
It means I’m fighting a battle you will never see.
Just because I’m a woman who listens
Doesn’t mean I’m weak or unable to lead.
It just means building community is more important than building me.
Just because I’m a woman who loves her career
Doesn’t mean I don’t care about my family.
It means I’m a person created with a purpose that my kids will see.
Just because I’m a woman who is independent
Doesn’t mean I hate men.
It just means I need someone willing to be vulnerable.
Just because I am a woman without children
Doesn’t mean I’m unwomanly or useless.
It just means I have room in my heart for the motherless.
Just because I’m a woman who is strong
Doesn’t mean I don’t want you to hold the door.
It just means I need someone to be strong enough to hold my heart.
Just because I’m a woman who is quiet
Doesn’t mean I’m not powerful.
It means I’m choosing my words wisely.
I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my Master’s of Education in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education, and a NBPTS candidate. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify my students’ voices and choices.