International Women's Day: The Strong Women Among Us
In writing about women, I am in no way attempting to diminish the role of men in this world. Far from it, but facts are facts: a good chunk of the world has, for most of the last two millennia, been under patriarchies of various types. It's been a man's world, while women have been the ones to bear the children and just be generally nurturing.
Have you ever noticed, though, how much strength it actually takes to do what a woman does from one day to the next? I'm not talking physical strength - nine times out of 10, men have us beat hands down in that department - but I'm talking mental fortitude. This is the sort of thing that women everywhere have had to cultivate within themselves, whether they are fully aware or appreciative of that or not.
They are the ones who are very often called out to in the middle of the night when the little ones need a snuggle or comfort after a bad dream or after being ill.
They are the ones who are generally expected to juggle schedules, handle grocery and laundry duty and usually work mostly or full time.
They are the ones who are trying to support anxious children, deal with the issues as they come up at school and deal with their own personal issues without faltering or stopping.
Granted, women in the Western world have a tendency to be a lot safer than the women we hear about in Middle Eastern countries. That said, there are a world of things that women endure daily in North America that are horrifying; women who are mentally, physically and sexually abused on a daily basis; women who are so caught in a tailspin that they really don't know how to escape, or they are too afraid to and simply unable to afford leaving.
They might be involved in relationships so incredibly toxic that they are beginning to believe that they are somehow deserving of the abuses they are enduring daily.
In short, women do not have the resources that most men are afforded on a day to day basis, simply because they are women. There are women who, almost daily, struggle to survive because they are treated as third class citizens in a world that is seemingly made for men.
Women tend to have to fight harder to recognize their own personal power because they simply aren't granted it in the society they live in. Men, on the other hand, are born into positions where by and large they are able to find work rather easily because they are expected to be leaders, and they are expected to be able to manage things well. Women have never had those assumptions made of them, so when women come forward and break outside of the mould that's been established, it's all the more stunning.
Rather than looking at the world of celebrities, as we are often wont to do, we need to examine our lives that are closer to home. It's easy on International Women's Day to plaster quotes from Emma Watson or Malala - two of my favorite young activists in the world today - but what about the women we know who have overcome the odds and truly gone beyond what's expected of them?
Why can't we focus on honoring the incredible women in our lives, rather than always turning to celebrities, to offer us the role models we seem to crave?
International Women's Day - Look At The Women In Your Neighborhood!
It's hard to really recognize the strength that so many women demonstrate from one day to the next just by looking at them. Even the women who seem incredibly confident and on top of their lives are carrying baggage that no one truly knows about, and that means it's taking an incredible amount of fortitude just to get through the day.
This is not to say that men don't face issues in trying to get through their day; men face their own challenges, as well, depending on their own life situations. However, this post is about women and celebrating their contributions, though the contributions might be quiet in nature.
Women are required, on a daily basis, to make decisions that can alter the lives of more than just them. There are generally children involved, in one respect or another, and that needs to be considered and weighed carefully; if the woman decides to make a change in her life, there will be unquestionable effects on the young people in her life. Women also tend to be impacted on the employment front in more significant ways, and this can involve a lot of stress and worry than a man might experience.
While men are unquestionably affected by employment changes, they generally have little issue in finding work if they want to find it - at least, not to the extent that women do. Women have to hustle a lot harder to prove themselves in the working world, and then when we show that determination and hustle, we have to put up with being tagged as bitches. Men are labelled as hardworking while women may not get that same positive imagery. That takes a great deal of strength to put up with those sorts of challenges.
Women are also more nurturing and supportive of their peers, generally speaking, adding more to a plate that's already quite full. Between juggling careers, partners, professional development or school, dealing with whatever family situation everyone's got behind closed doors, and trying to wedge in some time away from work on their own - a necessary even if the woman in question doesn't have children - women have a ton going on, and may be shouldering more than you realize.
It's truly difficult to determine what's going on behind closed doors for anyone, but women everywhere are unquestionably trying to keep their worlds together by hook or by crook. The strength required to just keep going when she really doesn't think she can is exhausting, and yet, she keeps it together.
So, on International Women's Day (March 8), rather than looking to see what your favorite celebrity is doing to honor strong women everywhere, look at the strong women in your immediate circle and beyond. You'd be surprised by what you'll find.