“Who is your hero?”
“My hero is me in ten years time.”
Was this written by a woman or a man?
In the aftermath of the recent very publicised sexual harassment cases, I wrote this post.
By writing this post, I am not stating that all men treat women this way. Of course they don’t. Sexual harassment and sexual assaults happen to men too. But women, more often than not, are at a physical strength disadvantage.
Joe Biden Jr. did a wonderfully powerful speech on sexism and sexual harassment. He said: “Silence is complicity.”
We must speak up, for ourselves and for others. Collect as much evidence as you can, then report it. Always report it.
Due to traditions, relationships at work or something else, we, women, don’t carry ourselves as seriously and as importantly as men do.
Are we who we always wanted to be? Are we where we always wanted to be in this stage of our lives?
By we, I mean women.
Have we lost ourselves along the way? Have you?
It’s only now that I am in my forties that I am starting to go back to who I was, but enriched with my life’s experience.
I think more women, than not, lose themselves along the way. We play so many roles in our lives. We have to and have had to adapt ourselves over the years. So many times. Endlessly.
First of all, as daughters.
There are many expectations put upon us, from a young age. This usually starts with expected & acceptable behaviour as little girls, little women, then as teenagers and then as women.
We are meant to be looking, appearing, behaving appropriately, aspiring to one day become mothers and wives, to suit the society’s expectation of how a girl/young lady/a woman should look like, be and become. Why? Out of fear. Fear of what, you say? Fear, by our parents, of us not being accepted by the society by not fitting an expected mould. They simply fear that we will get hurt by standing out.
As we grow and develop, we are expected to behave and express ourselves appropriately. We are not meant to be socially inappropriate. We are meant to be feminine, gentle, nurturing, caring, look after everyone most of the time by putting them first, ourselves second. We are meant to be vulnerable, but not too needy. We are meant to “man up”, but not be too strong.
We are meant to be attractive, but not too attractive. We are meant to look good, but not too good because then you are asking for it!
We are expected to be loving, baby producing machines, agreeable, supportive…well, the list is big! Massive!
We are not meant to be looking like boys, be too physically strong, too independent, too outspoken, too sporty, too muscly, too ambitious, too driven, too fat or too thin.
Also, we are not meant to have many sexual partners, because this makes us promiscuous and “sluts”, but men are allowed to have as many sexual partners as they wish and they would simply be called “a bit of a lad” and a “ladies’ man”.
Oh, don’t even get me started on “she asked for it” & “if she didn’t look like a prostitute/if she didn’t wear that, she wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted”. This infuriates me!
There are certain expectations of how we should behave in relationships and in marriage. I used to think that this was only common in the Balkans, but it’s not. It’s the same all over the world.
I was once told by a man that if I stayed in my motherland and if I married locally that I would either kill my husband or my husband would kill me. Figuratively speaking.
But there is a lot of truth there. I was too feisty, too strong, too sporty, too free, I enjoyed a drink/drinks with my friends publicly, I dated more than two men, I worked hard, I earned a lot, I partied hard, travelled a lot and played a lot.
I definitely did not fit a culturally acceptable mould.
I resisted any form of stereotyping because all I ever wanted was to be equal to a man, to my brother, to my father.
In my home, I was equal, which was wonderful and empowering, but I was not equal in the outside world, which was very confusing to a child, to a teenager girl or to a woman.
It saddens me so much that we are still not “meant to be” MDs, CEOs of very large companies or presidents either. There still seem to be MANY glass ceilings that need to be broken. I mean, it was breaking news when John Lewis appointed a woman as their CEO!
There simply isn’t enough in the companies’ support system that enables mothers to become CEOs more often. Not many women have a family who will put everything aside to support them in their careers, or nannies, after they’ve had their children, so that they the can break the fu**ing glass ceilings.
A lot more still needs to be done. More maternity leave, more childcare funding, more nurseries on the companies’ sites, more time given for training and retraining, in order for the working mothers to catch up with their male counterparts, after they’d been on their maternity leave.
We need a lot more support for successful women who have become mothers, but are suffering from PND. They need to be healthy in order to keep everything together and have a successful career. They need all the support they can get.
So, it’s a fight for this and a fight for that. Constantly throughout our lives.
Now, with all of this that we have to carry, no wonder we get lost along the way. So many things to carry, so many people to carry, and we end up not having much time or any for ourselves.
The life of a modern woman is hard, but not as hard as it used to be. Things are slowly, slowly getting better. But not quickly enough.
Work sexual harassment happens all the time. All over the world. In some countries worse than in others. Male-female inequality happens all the time.
I don’t have a daughter, I have two spirited boys . I feel immensely responsible as a mother of sons. I feel so responsible for the future of their life partners one day, I feel immensely responsible for their daughters’ lives one day.
It starts now. They need to be educated on equality, respect, nurturing, love and that NO means NO.
We ALL need to be respectful towards one another. All humans, which ever gender we are. We should never hurt anyone to get somewhere or to achieve something.
But the lack of equal respect and the lack of equal rights for women troubles me deeply. In this day and age, in THIS day and age, some women are still being sexually harassed in order for them to stay in their jobs or become more successful.
As I mentioned, WE, the mothers of boys, the parents of boys, have this enormous responsibility towards our sons’ current and future female friends, female partners, female colleagues and daughters.
In order for their daughters to be free and stay true to themselves, we need to work on our sons and educate them. To respect themselves and to respect others, to respect their sisters.
I wish I had a daughter too, as well as my boys. I would have taught her so much. SO much.
“Who is your hero?”
“My hero is me in ten years time.”
This was written by a man. How often do women say this to themselves?
I would LOVE more women to think like this.
Empower yourself and women around you.
Remember, silence is complicity.