Dear women’s rights champions of bygone decades,
Thanks a lot, but also, thanks a lot. (Still waiting for someone to invent a sarcasm font.) Because of your efforts, it is really effing impossible to be a “successful” woman today. Society tells me I must be all of the following–not some–but all:
- Beautiful and thin
- Blissfully married to my best friend
- A creative and fun and doting mother of angelic spawn
- Surrounded by hilarious and intimate gal pals
- Thriving in my meaningful vocation
- Accomplished in hobbies and personal pursuits
- A domestic goddess
- Independent but also well-connected in relationships
- Aware and involved in civic and charitable causes
Are you kidding me?? I have to believe that’s not what you meant when you marched, campaigned, chained yourself to gates…It’s absolutely impossible, and yet women today, including me, have to constantly fight the feeling that we’re failing. Somehow this ideal was generated, to which no woman has ever attained, and now we all feel like crap.
In my work I come alongside women who are weary, hanging on by a thread, and never feel on top of things or that they are doing a good job managing their responsibilities. I think feminism (and probably also modern life in general) has destroyed the sense of female community. No longer do we gather to wash clothes at the river, no longer do we support each other and work together. Now we scratch and compete and envy and isolate. And then we post pictures on Facebook that make our lives look like a magazine (don’t get me started on the media).
And let’s consider how this movement has affected men. So many poor guys don’t know whether to hold the door or not, whether bringing flowers is an antiquated insult, or how to lead us in a dance or a relationship. We’ve emasculated them at every turn: in media, in literature, in our attitudes. Women are now outperforming men at every level of school. A submissive woman is to be pitied and cajoled, and we’re left with thousands of boys, not men. Sigh.
I’m all for women having opportunities and (someday) getting equal pay for equal work and all that. I believe there are still attitudes that need to be changed. But maybe we need to start with us, to give ourselves and each other grace, room to breathe, and permission to let go of some things. If we could stop comparing and envying and hiding so much, I bet change would come quite naturally. And I don’t know about you, but I could use some.