Women who make hard, conflicting, selfless, sacrificing choices.
Women who accept, adapt, reinvent, persevere, and survive.
Women who learn, grow, forgive, surrender, and transform.
Women, who nurture, teach, create, and give back.
Women who pour unconditional love and passion into all they do while handling the standard business of the day and whatever else life throws their way.
I know these women. I study and observe them. And on most days, I try to be one of them.
There seems to be no limit to what women can hold, what we can give, and what we can create. The extent of our power may not be fully known, but it is felt within us and always there to draw from.
Collectively we do have some work to do — resentments to release, divides to mend, and wounds to heal. But as individuals, we can start by tapping into and trusting our inner power, as we help others do so as well.
There are many important messages out there right now, and not all of them are about a fight or a movement. Although extreme and symbolic approaches are necessary and effective, some of the most impactful action we can take is in our everyday life.
Be the change. Live your truth. Love yourself and others.
While some of us vehemently throw our justifiable anger and frustration behind lofty causes of black and white, others of us grow weary and apathetic as we navigate the gray confusion between opposing sides. Maybe we have known neither; maybe we have known both.
As I float on an ocean of calm between two fierce rivaling nations of women, a simple truth rises within me. I believe we are all fighting the same fight. Yes, even our male counterparts. We all want respect. We all want to be heard. We all want to be enough.
All of us.
My wish for women, which mirrors what I am working on personally, is that we stop being so hard on ourselves and on each other so that we can get out of our own way. Because we all know that nothing (and no one) else can stop us.
I remember being a young girl and thinking about gender for the first time. I am not sure what provoked it, but I clearly remember asking myself if I was thankful to be female. There I was – at a public middle school in the deep south in the early 90s, the oldest daughter of divorced and struggling middle-class parents – and my immediate response to myself was that I felt lucky to be a girl!
I knew my power, even then. I loved sports, fashion, babysitting, and every single thing about school. I had two sisters right behind me, and a baby brother. Both my parents were educators, and I idolized the amazing female teachers that guided my day. I looked forward to becoming a mother one day just as much as I looked forward to being the first female President (gasp!), and my favorite TV show was Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. In that simple and naïve stage of life, I felt empowered and saw so much opportunity for women. And I still do!
Those boys, they had it harder. They had to be so tough. It wasn’t as acceptable for them to outwardly love school like I did. They couldn’t show that they were scared or sad. Their friendships didn’t seem deep enough. They had to take the lead in love, which had to be terrifying! And they just weren’t as smart and capable as us girls.
That was my perception at that time, and of course it changed over the years as I came of age. But I still feel lucky “to be a girl,” and with each passing year I embrace my power even more. Even after the life-changing devastation of divorce and through the daily struggles of being a single working mom.
And sometimes, I still do feel sorry for those “poor boys,” only because I try to be empathetic. If I want them to understand and respect me, I feel I must do the same. The men I share this world with are not responsible for the male-dominated history of the world (or recording of it), but they must currently take the brunt of the blame. They are the ones we are holding to the fire and demanding change from.
As we should; the time has come.
But do we want to battle our male counterparts or do we want to join forces with them? Do we want seize power or negotiate a compromise? Do we want to kick them out of their seats or sit beside them?
If what we want is a seat at the decision-making table and respect for the unique, irreplaceable balance we bring to that table, then let’s make that our mission and ask for it.
It is a rhetorical question as we are not seeking permission; we are going to sit down and get to work regardless. It is about respect. And showing respect, even when there are a thousand reasons not to, reflects more on you than the other person (or entire gender).
We can continue to demand what we deserve and contribute in meaningful ways without treating others (women and men) with the same disrespect we have felt ourselves. We are loud and proud when we discuss the obvious double standard between genders, but the giant elephant in the room is the very real double standard that also exists among women.
It has angered me to read/listen to so many women label and attack entire segments of people just because they hold an (seemingly) opposing viewpoint. And it saddens me to see women stereotyping other women, making dangerous assumptions, dismissing their life experience as irrelevant, and calling them stupid, uneducated, racist, and sexist. The hypocrisy is counter-productive to say the very least.
We need to recognize how different we are and promote an acceptance (even a celebration) of these differences. You want reproductive rights; I want to protect the unborn. You want more government support; I want less government intervention. Your top priority is the environment; mine is the economy. Fundamental differences will always exist between us, as they do among men.
But my hope is that we can stop marginalizing each other based on assumptions and stereotypes. Everyone has a unique perspective based on their life experience and autonomous thought process. Dismissing that reality isn’t conducive to progress; it only breeds apathy and resentment. Instead, I must offer to others what I myself am so desperate to receive . . . respect.
That being said, we can and must do better. We have all walked unique paths and acquired a vast array of strengths and talents that balance us even within our gender group. Women have so much to offer the world both individually and collectively, it is unreal (and probably more than a little intimidating)!
Highest on this list of unique female powers, in my opinion, is our ability to connect and create, both of which involve very little ego. Ding, ding, ding! Imagine pulling up our chair and offering even just those two superpowers. This is what we do well, what we do better, and what is often missing from leadership in business and politics. We don’t have to be just like men. We don’t have to play it their way. We only have to bring the (much-needed) balance, and demand respect for it.
What women want, what we think, what we know, and what we have to offer all matter. Whether it’s at home, at work, or on the political stage – our perspective and input is equally important.
“I’m every woman, it’s all in me…
Anything you want done, baby, I’ll do it naturally.”
As I channel my inner Whitney, I hope that we can harness the energy of change that seems to be peaking now and use it to come together and collectively guide the progress of the world. It’s a big undertaking, but the world needs us.
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