Monday, March 4, 2013

Embracing Our Differences as Women

I asked if any of my fans had topics they were interested in reading about this week.  One comment, left by a friend of mine, struck a chord.

She expressed frustration at being judged by stay at home moms who criticize her position in life as a working mother, then pointed out that such judgment comes whether a mother works out of necessity, or by choice.

Knowing this woman personally, I was a little blown away that someone would be so critical of her in any way.  She really is amazing.

Then I was immediately reminded of the ugly truth that judgment is everywhere.  That women spend far more time knocking each other down than lifting each other up.  

I was reminded of how terrible women are to one another.  We judge every single thing about each other.  From what we wear, to our relationships, to our career choices, to our parenting, nothing is off limits sometimes it seems.

I could list the things about me that people would say define my position in life.  

I could tell you what kind of mother I am, pigeonholing myself.  

I could tell you the things about me as a woman that other people would use to limit me, to place me in categories, to judge me.  

I won't.

I won't because it doesn't matter.  

There is more than one type of relationship. There are marriages based on love, marriages based on agreement, marriages avoided for as many reasons as there are couples in them, marriages disallowed by arbitrary unfair laws.  It's no one's right to judge those in them, regardless of which incarnation it is or isn't.

There is more than one way to raise a child.  In fact, there are at least as many ways to raise a child as there are children in this world.  If I've learned nothing else from my tenure as a parent, it is this truth: the same thing will not work for each child.  To believe that is even possible is naive and carries tremendous judgment with it.

There is more than one way to happiness.  There is more than one way to live a complete, fulfilling life.  Not every vision of happiness involves the picket fence, husband and 2.1 children.

Not every vision of happiness pans out like we think it will.  Not every fairytale ends the way it is supposed to.

Not every woman wants the fairytale in the first place.

There is more than one type of woman.

And that is okay.

A women, we do ourselves no favors by believing that there is one way to do anything properly.  

Which then begs the question of why do we do this?

As I've written about before, I honestly think it's because we are so conditioned by society that there is one perfect version of womanhood - an unattainable and artificial image of perfection that no mortal being can ever compete with.  To compensate for our perceived shortcomings, we feel compelled to find fault in how other women live their lives too.

In doing so, we perpetuate this myth.

If we can't do it right, then they can't either.

What about this, though?

What if we all stopped doing that?


What if we just stopped?

What if we all took a look around at all the women surrounding us everyday, the single women, the married women, the divorced women, the mothers, the childless- whether by choice or not, the stay at home moms, the working moms, the single moms, the overwhelmed new mothers, the empty nesters, the breastfeeders, the formula feeders, the transgender women, the lesbians, the bisexuals, the women with depression, the women with addictions, the suicide survivors, the career women, the adopting moms, those who gave their children up for adoption, the women who've had abortions, the women who've lost children, the women who've been raped, the women who've been sheltered, the women we believe have perfect lives and the ones we know who don't...what if we took all of them and opened our hearts to them all?  

What if we stopped judging them constantly, and instead said this:

I support you.

I honor your choices.

I will help you.

I will cheer you on.

I will hold your hand.

I will stand beside you.

I will fight for you.

Imagine how amazing the world could be if we worked together, if we encouraged each other, if we supported each other.  If we accepted that it is our differences as women that make us collectively stronger, more capable, more rounded, more able to help one another.  Better.

Imagine.

11 comments:

  1. Awesome words and from a 59 y/o divorced, childless(not by choice) woman.....thank you bz

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  2. it's nice to dream! Unfortunately, I'm too cynical to see it actually happen. I have, instead, changed myself to stop caring so much about other people's opinion of me. That would probably be the best option for your friend as well.
    Sorry if this sounds harsh.

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  3. While I agree there is good to be had by stopping all the mutual judgement, I don;t see us having a global moment of enlightenment any time soon. Judgement is a survival tool, one might say. Have we reduced it to its most base level? Absolutely. And that is, I believe, the real problem. We judge our self and others to fit ourselves into some perceived social hierarchy instead of using the useful art of comparison and contrast to find what works best for our own needs. We have taught ourselves to equate popular with best.

    But I'll take any step in the direction you write about above.:)One post at a time can change the world.

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  4. There are so many paths. I am not sure why we have to choose one as better than another...of course we all want to say our path is best, but seriously, what is best for one is not best for another. Diversity makes the world go round. Better to embrace that and move on to worrying about important things, right?

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  5. Here, here! Then would it be easier to stop judging myself I wonder?

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  6. Change doesn't happen in a day, it changes one person at a time, one nice act at a time.

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  7. Oh, how I wish this were so! I have been in situations where it was painful to see how catty & judgmental the women were, and I wondered why. Even today I find myself gravitating to those who have a gentler heart. It bothers me to hear women criticizing the ones who work, or don't work, who maybe don't wear the most updated fashion because they can't afford it...or maybe their kids aren't at the top of the class or in the popular crowd at school. Why is this so important to other women? I just don't get it. I always tried hard to fit in, even with the blogging community, but then I decided I was only betraying myself by trying to be someone I'm not. I just do my own thing now, and the gals who have stuck by me through it all are my TRUE friends. I love each and every one of them. I just wish there were more like them in this world......I love my guys friends, too, but there is just something so special about having female friends who really GET you. I love that sense of a sisterhood, and I have found some amazing, beautiful people right here in the blogging community. It gives me hope.

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  8. I try to make a conscious effort to be a wee bit less judge-y every day. I like to think that in teeny tiny ways I might be helping the problem.

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