Today is International Women’s day 2017. What are we doing to build each other up as women? Support each others’ families, businesses and lives? How are we rejoicing in the victories and embracing each other with love as we wail over loss and defeat? How are we showing up for each other day to day?
We listen. We care. We create community with other women. Whether it is a stich and bitch night, volunteering with a non-profit women’s organization, or finding a support group, we need other women. Men are great, but they just aren’t the same. They communicate differently, think differently, and all too often fall into slightly misogynistic ways that have been woven deeply into our society and that they are often completely unaware of. Many of these wonderful men ARE TRYING!! Some of them are trying really, really hard and we should applaud them for that. However, let’s face it, most of them truly don’t get what it feels like to have your ass slapped at work, or worse, to get less money for the same job while having to endure systematized sexism. They don’t get talked over in meetings, questioned of why they married yet, get called “girl” instead of woman, or be denied funding for their company due to their gender. We are playing on a different field. It is changing, thank God, but it is still there, and unfortunately, societal change statistically takes a couple of generations.
Look at how far we have come!!! 130 years ago we couldn’t even vote, and in 2016 we almost had the first female President (sigh). We used to be openly referred to as property, unable to divorce and to have our own property and money entirely deeded and given to husbands. It is heartening to speak to women in their 20’s that have never experienced a gropie boss at work, and if they do, have resources in which to take appropriate and legal action. To be heard and vindicated. Unfortunately, quite often this does not happen. Too often, HR departments are merely sounding blocks for broken and morally corrupt managers and owners. If you haven’t read the story of Susan J. Fowler’s experience at Uber, you should. It is disturbing, but all too common. When I was funding my tech company last year, I heard comments from board rooms full of middle aged white dudes like, “We love your company, but we just don’t invest in women owned companies. Sorry.” Or my friends who have young children and have been asked “Why aren’t you home with your kids? Shouldn’t your husband be here running the company?”
We know that, on average, women are paid sixty cents to every dollar a man makesin the same position. I don’t know about you, but in my household, I do the majority of the “domestic” chores of shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, taking care of the pets, and creating general good juju. And, I know I am far from the only one that lives this reality. How do we change this dynamic at a systemic level? How do we stand up for each other, help each other to find more parity and help the other half of our society to realize these inequities with compassion instead of embattlement?? How do we make empowering choices in our lives that honor ourselves while still keeping the ship afloat?
One HUGE area we can support each other is to stop shaming and judging one another on social media, in person, or in small groups. It makes you look small and petty and helps NO ONE!! Most of these women you are vilifying for whatever they have done or whatever has happened to them are telling their truth. It doesn’t have to be your truth. You don’t have to like or agree with each other’s politics. Support has nothing to do with that. Or when someone is makes a parenting choice and then are raked over the coals on social media. They, like you, are doing there damndest to raise good kids and make it through the day without killing someone or drinking a whole bottle of wine. So what if they vaccinate or co-sleep or don’t feed their kids organic vegetables. You have different ideas. Be curious! Ask questions! Talk about it from a place of support, love and friendship instead of division. How much further along will we be as women if we use all of this vitriol, energy, and time towards building each other up? Volunteering at a women’s shelter? Cooking food for elderly shut-in’s? Taking our neighbor who just went through a nasty divorce a bottle of wine, some chocolate and listening? How much better do those actions feel than attacking another person for the simple act of not agreeing with you.
And how many of you were at one of the women’s marches? The support and love was palpable. It doesn’t matter where you stand politically, women’s rights are families’ and children’s rights…they are everyone’s rights. When women in a society succeed financially and feel supported and empowered, society at large benefits. Our children then have better nutrition, education, and mental capacity to succeed as adults. The marches brought awareness to this, now it is our time to act. Support micro-lending in developing countries for female owned businesses. Foster a child. Be a Big Brother or Big Sister. RUN FOR OFFICE. We are in a privileged place, that we, and our sisters who came before us, have fought for. We can make a difference in the lives of women around the world by daily action. You don’t have time? Someone made the time for you. Someone marched and sat-in and filed lawsuits. And think of what you are teaching your children. Not only that women matter, that we are strong, capable and able to do whatever the hell we want in life, but that community and volunteerism matters. That THEY matter.