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Life doesn’t stop when you are struggling physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. It doesn’t stop when you’re grieving someone or something. It doesn’t stop when you have someone or many someones to care for.

The world keeps spinning. People still have to eat. Still have to get haircuts and get to doctors appointments and have clean clothes. Things and people still need and demand your attention.

We are women, and we are expected to do it all. And do it well. In heels.

We are expected to do whatever it takes to get our jobs done, but not to the point that it makes any man uncomfortable. Or overshadows him in any way.

In addition to our jobs, we are expected to set the table and order the food and make sure everyone has what they need for the meetings.

And clean up after.

We are expected to make sure we always look polished and put together. Even though polished and put together can be twice as expensive for a woman than a man who can pull off that look with 2 pairs of pants and 5 different shirts or ties.

We are expected, in general, to go along and not be too vocal.

Not push too hard (because then we’re nagging).

Not feel too deeply.

Not initiate, but always initiate.

Be strong, but not emasculating.

Be pretty, but not overdo the makeup, oh more than that though.

Have children.

Don’t have children.

Have one child.

Have lots of children.

Let everyone give you their opinion about that decision and smile when they not-so-subtly hint that your biological clock is ticking.

We wait 20 years for promotions that men can get in 3.

We show up early, stay late, and still have to go home and go from professional to domestic. No time to stop. No rest until you’re dead.

We are mocked when we stand up for things. Blamed when we are the victims. Judged when we we didn’t file the charges. Or report to HR. Or speak up when it happened.

Even though we’ve been talked over or shushed all our lives. Told that our worth lies in our looks. And if we promoted our looks, we were asking for it.

Our justice system has demonstrated over and over again that we should just try and “work things out” with that abuser.

Because we talk too much.

If we’re confident, and stand firm, we’re a bitch.

If we don’t speak up, we’re weak.

We can’t win.

Or can we?

On International Women’s Day, I work toward and strive for the day when my daughter doesn’t have to work in a world of double standards, and prevalent harassment, and unequal opportunity and pay.

When she, God forbid, doesn’t have to worry about her marriage ending up being a trap she can’t get out of with a man from whom she can’t protect her children.

And if my speaking up makes me a bitch, I guess I’m a bitch.

And if my writing about it makes me misunderstood or judged, those have everything to do with the reader, not the writer.

With every passing year I develop less and less tolerance for the double standard.

For the weakness of men to rise up beside us.

Women are finally realizing that we’re stronger united than divided.

The conversations are changing.

We’re finally the ones doing the talking.

And people are being forced to listen.

Many of them don’t like what they hear.

It makes them uncomfortable.

It doesn’t line up with the bubble they’ve been living in.

But it’s real. We are real. We’re not going away. We’re not going to shut up.

And, man or woman, you can walk away and shake your head, or you can join the conversation and do your part for your sisters.

But we’re not going away.

We’re celebrating each other today.

Every day.

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