This week I have seen several articles and post about how hard it is to be a woman in the 21st century. How there are so many pressures. How life is generally harder on women. How we need to drink to dull the pain of our own existence. How media portrays an impossible image and asks us to reach the same perfection. I’ve read these things with some interest…and some complete wander. I mean, can it really be THAT hard to be a female?
Here is what I have deduced from my own meditations on these works: Women (in the U.S. and other first world countries) feel constant pressure to do more, and be better. Women should not feel this way.
I’m going to write about first world women, because that’s where most of the focus was in the things I read this week. I will not pretend that women in many other countries around the world make up their problems, or that their problems could be solved with a new way of looking at things. But I am going to assert that both of those statement are primarily true in the developed world. (If you think that is going to anger you, or cause you to need counseling, you may wish to stop reading here.)
Before you start throwing “women’s rights” stones at me, I do believe women in the U.S. are entitled to some of the basic rights of men. But as far as I know, there are no states that forbid women to walk alone with no escort, prohibit women from voting, keep women from attaining drivers’ licenses, or disallow women from seeking any degree, career they wish, etc. But, I do not believe men and women are created equal. We aren’t from a biblical view. We are not the same from a scientific view. We are really not the same.
My husband has worked 80 hour weeks since April or May. He leaves by 5 or 5:30am many mornings, and does not get home until 8-10pm. He works outside. His pick-up is his office. The world is his bathroom. He takes a lunch and bottled water every day. It’s hot. It’s dusty. It’s sunny. He runs on very little sleep. I COULD NOT DO HIS JOB. Let me make that very clear. I have done long days outside in the heat, and humidity. I have worked long hours in the sun. I have lived on a sandwich and chips. I COULD NOT DO HIS JOB. By this time in the summer, after months of his schedule, I would very likely be in a hospital. The sun, the dehydration, the stress, the hours, the lack of sleep — they would all become to great for my female body to bear.
I stay home with our two children, and work on incubating our third child. I deal with fits. I clean up the same messes every day, sometimes more than 3 or 4 times a day. I change diapers. I wash dishes. I cook meals. I wash laundry. I read stories. I haul children around town, in and out of car seats in hot, cold, rainy, windy parking lots. MY HUSBAND COULD NOT DO MY JOB. Sure, there are many stay at home dads. But mine would go insane. after the third melt down of the day he would probably need the nut house. He has stayed home before. He’s cleaned up puke. He has fixed little lunches. He has changed some rank diapers. But he could not do my job, day in and day out (nor would he want to. I’ve asked.)
So, there ya go. Two little differences in men and women. Now, I know there are plenty of differences between women, alone; and men, alone. I have female friends who could not and would not do my job. And I know many men who could not, and would not do my husband’s job.
But this blog is about women, so we need to get back to that subject. According to what I have read this week, the only way for many women to even survive their life is to drink, and to fight light wild beasts in the work place. I disagree with both statements. A) I don’t drink at all, never have. And B) We are not the same beings, so why do we hold ourselves to the same standards in the professional world? To me that is like asking a giraffe and a lion to perform the same functions in the ecosystem. We really aren’t the same. Do I keep repeating that point? That must be because I want YOU, yes YOU women on the other side of this screen, to quit comparing yourselves to men. WE ARE NOT MEN. We are strong! We are bold! We can make other human beings inside our own bodies! (Try that, dudes!) We can turn heads with our confidence and grace! We can change the world in so many ways! But we can’t do any of these things if we are all wrapped up in trying to be something we are not! Just think about that…
Moms, wives, teachers, professionals, hairdressers, nurses, waitresses, mail carriers, artists — women, we need to just stop trying to be anyone besides ourselves. We need to quit competing with men, and more than that we need to quit competing with one another. I am no fashion model. (Unless boot cut jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirts are a great trend they just don’t mention in fashion magazines, and on the runway…Could I be so lucky???) I know women who always look adorable. No matter what they wear. And they make bold fashion choices. I’m scared of clothes. I have no idea what pieces go together, and when I can wear fall stuff, or if I need to stash my winter things and wear spring, or maybe it’s still too early?! I just never know. But you know what I have learned? None of it matters. Not to say i don’t have days where I hate every garment I own, because I have more days like that then I care to admit. But wearing what some one else wears, will not make me that person. Besides, there is something very striking about a woman who can dress in plain, ordinary clothes, and still wear a confident smile.
I am not a secretary. I could never do receptionist work. I HATE talking on the phone. I really don’t like people. I can’t stand stupid either. Why would I compare myself to another woman her loves her job in that role? I love to be home with my kids (most of the time.) Why would another woman who doesn’t even have or want children compare herself to the things I get done at home while she is working a job she enjoys? Horses scare me. Why would I compare myself to accomplished riders? You see my point? We are always looking around at what everyone else is doing and thinking “they have it all together. I need to be like them.” Mean while those same women are thinking the same thoughts about us, or about the lady across the street, or about whoever!
You know what makes it hard to be a first world woman, in the 21st century? Women. We do this to ourselves. And it’s ridiculous! I am not you. You are not me. I am not my sister. She is not my cousin. My cousin is not her coworker. The coworker is not her friend. Her friend is not me (unless it is ME. ha!)
Quit trying to be who you are not. Quit trying to dress to impress a certain crowd. Don’t break yourself at work for a promotion you don’t even want. Quit spending money you don’t make to look like some one who has more. Just quit. Just be you. You, the strong, bold, head turning woman who is passionate about what you are passionate about instead of chasing other people’s dreams. Just be you.