The Fallacy of "Unbreakable"

There is a meme circulating in popular culture, from song lyrics based on Nietzsche's "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger", to rape victims holding signs quoting their attackers in a take-back-the-night-style social sharing moment, to memoirs and consultancy books extolling the virtues of "unbreakable" - what it is, how to get it, and how wonderful we'll all be when we get there. Much of these books, and projects, and works of art may be individually good, they may make the author or participant feel individually empowered, but the overall affect of these soundbited, shallow messages pelting society is ultimately corrosive, especially for women.

Women have been told that if we aren't all we are nothing, that if we don't "lean in" it therefore means we've opted for the sidelines, that if we don't unquestionably love every flaw of our bodies we are therefore self-hating. Such cartoonish extremes find themselves in the shallow "unbreakable" meme, in the glanced-over reading of Nietzsche's infamous phrase (one notes that glanced-over readings of Nietzsche, specifically pertaining to the Übermensch and the Untermensch, have dire consequences, indeed). Such two dimensional arguments, forced upon women to flatten out our flaws, our mistakes, and ultimately our individuality do not serve the ultimate goal of feminism, which is empowerment, which means acceptance of the individual as an individual, both by the individual and by society. 

Joy is found in the flaw, in the breakage, in the strike-through on an original manuscript or a doodle scrawled in a scientific journal. We come alive through our imperfections, they are the basis of our art, our storytelling and our compassion: to attempt to rob women of the ability to be broken is to rob women of our humanity, to put us in metal safeboxes and stick us up on the highest shelves of society to be admired, untouched, from afar. We deserve a more intimate acceptance, based on a leveled, mutual respect, and an understanding that our failings are our strengths, that we are neither superheros nor delicate flowers, but rather real, flesh and blood, mothers, and daughters, and sisters, as normal, and boring, and exceptional, as the men we work with, and live with, and love.