Women are remarkable. All throughout history we have been carrying half if not more of the load. We have raised the men that have maintained power over us for centuries. We have created, nurtured, constructed, invented, fought, settled, discovered, cured and provided during every minute of the past five thousand years. Really ever since the first woman walked the earth.
But sometimes I wonder – when did the first women turn against each other?
Because one of the reasons that women are still not where they could be is not solely because of men. The sad truth is that often we hold each other back.
Why is it that when women rise and succeed, the loudest most critical voices are those of other women? Why don’t we uphold each other and celebrate each other’s joys and successes? Why can’t we band together like the sisters that we are and empower each other to rise up even higher?
Are we afraid of our own power? Afraid of having control and responsibility?
As a woman I long for a community of sisters who will not judge me, envy or resent me, but embrace me as one of their own.
Are we forever cursed with Eve’s dissatisfied spirit, always wanting what she couldn’t have, never finding simple contentment even in paradise itself?
I remember thinking how hard it was getting guys to take us seriously and value us for more than our looks – and then I would see other women making money by undressing and willingly parading their body like an object of lust for men to continue to depersonalize us. I was so disappointed that we weren’t all on the same team. But I didn’t realize that some women truly feel that their only value comes from their sex appeal and their outer beauty. They feel they have nothing else to offer.
And then I see women in third-world countries who are slaves to their uterus, becoming pregnant at the age of 15 and remaining so while raising baby after baby, unable to get an education or provide for herself because she has no access to birth control. And at the same time I see women in our own country, trying to back log the progress we have made and vilify family planning, basically wishing us back into the stone age. But then I remember that some women believe that religion instructs women to bear many children and they are simply trying to obey their religious teachings and gain their value in that way.
I see strong women with gifts and talents who spend their whole lives trying to please a man, wasting their entire potential on an ignorant, blind human who simply uses her like he uses his back scratcher. All this because she grew up in a family that taught her that her worth could only come from making a man happy.
So many twisted, confusing beliefs that have been thrown at us over the years. It is not my place to judge. We turn to that too quickly. It is my place to try to understand why a woman does what she does, and then try to help her get free.
What about societal beliefs that say to women:
You are strong. You are beautiful. You are free and powerful. You can do anything you set your mind to. You can figure out any problem. You can work through any disappointment. You are loved. You are capable and amazing. You are not an object here for anyone’s use, but an equal member of the human race. You are complete just the way you are – meaning without a man. Your creator God is all you need and He is on your side ready and willing to back you up and fight with you!
How many of us were raised with those beliefs about our gender?
Some women experience impressive success in business, entertainment or politics, and as soon as they do other women are threatened and attack their reputations and undermine their momentum.
Why don’t we celebrate with our tribe? We are all in this together and the degree to which we support each other will dictate how quickly we can create a community where our daughters can grow up and build their identities on SOLID ground. Not the shaky messages from our past.
Why would we want to limit that for them?
We are all sisters. When a woman is suffering half a world away because she has no rights, no money, no drivers license, no vote and no say – all of womanhood is suffering.
I used to picture a woman in Bangladesh, where women are apparently worth about the same as a dog, and I would picture this woman with a scarf on her head, bent over with shame in her eyes because she had no idea of her true worth. And I used to picture an insightful, modern thinking man coming over and lifting her head, lifting her eyes so that she would find strength and discover her value. She would be elevated above the dogs, and the valued sex – male – would bestow worth on her.
But that is not what I picture anymore. While I still want a hand to reach down to lift her up and then to lift her eyes, it is no longer a man’s hand. Instead it is the strong, loving, wise hand of another woman – one who has been set free and established in her value and worth. One who has realized that men and women are equal. One who can help to lift up other women and set them on the path to freedom as well.
Women, lifting up and empowering other women.
We don’t need men’s permission or blessing. We have each other – half of our planet!
Our worth is God given and separate from any worth that a man might attribute to us based on how well we meet their needs.
We live in a world of plenty – there is enough love, success and riches to go around for everyone. When one woman achieves something of value it does not shrink the pot – there is still PLENTY of room for you to achieve as well! Creativity, relationships, beauty – just because someone else has it doesn’t mean you can’t. There is more than enough to go around. Do not be controlled by a mentality of scarcity – it simply isn’t accurate.
We truly are remarkable in so many ways, how have we not gotten this part right yet? We can be so independent and prideful that we forget the power that comes from unity and alliances.
Let us celebrate our differences while focusing on our common sisterhood and our common fight. When one of us succeeds we all succeed. And if one of us is made to shrink back and her power is stripped away, then we all suffer. We belong in a sisterhood alliance where we share our richest knowledge, our most vulnerable experiences, our beauty secrets, our best recipes…where we SET EACH OTHER UP to succeed. Not where we compete with each other.
Our common strength can create more than just gender equality – it can create a world where our daughters and sons cannot fathom thinking and living as if women were less than. We can make it that foreign.
Look around your world today and ask yourself what women you can uplift and encourage. Invite them to be part of your sisterhood. Help them to lift their eyes and recognize their value as a woman.
Know that when we stand together amazing things can happen!
I would encourage you to be part of the conversation online – there are multiple groups on Facebook and movements on Twitter that are celebrating women and helping us to share, band together, and support each other. Check them out and add your special brand of womanhood to the mix!