Women are wonderful humans! We are smart, capable and perceptive. We are resilient and passionate. In the face of calamity, we find solutions….
We are deep and creative thinkers. In the face of poverty, we extend our table. We are connected to the earth and its struggles. We are connected to one another.
Image Credit: Chelsi Peter – Pexels.com
Despite our strengths, our beauty and our intelligence, we have been subjugated to centuries of oppressive attitudes and practices. We have experienced all kinds of constraints and disempowerment. We have been second class citizens and did not have the right to land or financial ownership, sometimes to our children, and to our thoughts.
I work mostly with women and get to hear their thoughts, concerns and struggles. What I always think to myself is what a beautiful person she is and how unfortunate that she feels so bad, so critical of herself.
Criticism is an undertow of women’s experience. “A survey of 2,000 women conducted in the United Kingdom by Weight Watchers’ #WomanKind campaign found that the average woman in the study criticized herself at least eight times a day—and she got started on this criticism bender before 9:30 in the morning.” https://www.allure.com/story/women-self-esteem-study
One can hear the self-criticism in the frequency with which women apologize. “I’m sorry,” we say often, even when it is not needed. How often do we hear a man apologize?
Or, we doubt our ability to undertake something that we are completely capable of doing. Just today, I took a walk with a most wonderful nineteen-year-old young woman. She is about to embark on a several months long cross-country trek and would like to lead these someday. She asked me if I thought she would be able to do this. I was astonished at the question, as I see her as completely capable already. I said to her that she had shown leadership qualities in the way she followed up with me about getting together, in communicating her time line, and affirming her wish to spend time with me. It was a great experience of someone leading a get together and showed all the qualities needed for leadership. The crazy thing was that she did not see this in herself.
This year the theme of International Women’s Day, March 8th, is the Challenge to Change; “A challenged world is an alert world.” The goal is for all of us to notice and to speak up and speak out when we encounter “gender bias and inequality.”
Another approach is for us to affirm girls and women wherever we can. We can treat our sons and daughters with equal love and hold similar expectations of them, like in the Poem Judy Chicago wrote,
“And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another’s will…
And then all will live in harmony with one another and the Earth
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.”
We can let our children be the complex human beings they are. It means that boys can cry and girls can wrestle. It means that girls can be drawn to computers and science and a boy to psychology. It means that girls will not need to apologize for being smart and boys will not need to be ashamed for being soft-hearted. What a much happier place life will be when this range of being will be available to all. With a bit of support, women can be the powerful people we are. We can be like Kamala Harris, proud and confident. We will know that we deserve an equal place under the sun. We can celebrate ourselves and each other and, with confidence, we can change the world!