I plan to write several installments on this topic (hence the part 1 in the title). I am ambitious, indeed, for a blogger who… you know… doesn’t blog. This topic, though, has worried at my mind for months now. You see, I think I love women and I want to tell you about it.
I don’t mean that I love several women, though I do. I don’t mean that I have sex with several women, and I don’t do that anyway. I mean that I cherish the female sex, I value its members dearly, and I want to do what I can to support and strengthen them. I think everyone should. Women are wonderful. I speak to you.
You are brilliant, strong, talented, artistic, logical, athletic, passionate, careful, carefree, wicked, compassionate, wily, honest, wise, foolish, and beautiful. Yes, wonderful.
With anything that is wonderful, however, there is a danger that people will start taking it for granted. In the case of women, I’ve come to think that they even take themselves for granted. That’s not to say that if you happen to have a uterus you should behave as though you are the greatest thing ever. But you should value yourself. I’m sad to say that many of my female friends don’t seem to realize their own worth.
It’s implicit in the decisions they make about family, career, and relationships:
“I want to travel to Europe but my mother gets so lonely, I should stay and keep her company.”
“I’d love to move to New York and join a dance company there, but I don’t think I’m good enough for that.”
“He doesn’t always remember to think of me, but when he does pay attention to me, he’s really great!”
There’s a school of thought that women are designed to be nurturers and put others before themselves. I’m going to point out here that it’s the year 2010. In the USA, we’ve had suffrage for ninety years, and we just came within inches of having our first female President. Using our genetic or divine programming as an excuse for having some self-destructive tendency is just giving up. Men may be designed to be vicious assholes but that’s not acceptable either. We have intelligence, sentience, conscience, and community. We can choose to overcome any programming that may or may not be present within us. Of course it’s difficult and of course you won’t be able to rise above your weaknesses every time but neither of those are good reasons not to try.
Women should take care of themselves. They are as valuable or more so than the people for whom they traditionally sacrifice their happiness. If you choose to care for someone in ways that disadvantage part of your life because that nurturing fulfills you as much in other ways, that is a fine and conscious choice. But if you sacrifice some of your own happiness for the sake of another person or thing just because you think that you are not as deserving of it, you are only making it so. Choose to be strong and fiercely embrace your joys and you will be deserving of that as well.
But pause a moment. There is a danger here to swing to an extreme that I associate with old-fashioned feminism. Not so long ago, women had so many societal structures stacked against them, that in their fight to realize equality, many pushed too hard and ended up overwhelming others in their struggle. Feminist action has, I believe, occasionally resulted in giving excessive advantage to women over all others. There’s a possibility of infringing on others’ rights to freedom of religion and speech, to squash the liberties of other genders, races, and creeds. That is pushing too much for my taste.
I separate myself from traditional feminists then by thinking of myself as a humanist. I don’t believe everyone is equal but that everyone’s rights are equal and opportunities should be as well. There is no true victory of freedom from oppression if it results in oppressing others in turn. Take hold of your self-worth and hold fast, but do not take away from others. Your own worth is already great.
Despite how far we’ve come, there is a ways yet to go. In your time, many will seek to rob you of some of your measure of your own value. Nobody can ever take away your worth, but stealing your belief in it is just as harmful. Your boss, your friend, your peer, your teacher, your family, your child, your neighborhood, the news, magazines, books, television shows, movies, computer games and many other elements of your surroundings are all laced with a nearly inextricable bias to try to make you think that you are not formidable. Yet, that is what you are. Still, every choice you make cannot help but be influenced by those perfidious persuasions. They are diminishing, yes, but they are still there.
All I ask is that when you make your choices in life,
when you feel that hesitation that pulls you back from what calls to you,
remember that everything telling you that you cannot succeed will be meaningless in the face of your demonstration that you can.
Of course, you can succeed. You’re a woman. You’re wonderful.