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The Queen of Soul will be buried this week. Her anthem still resonates with millions, ironically, at a time in our history when we are supposed to all be equal, more than ever.

But are we?

Our book club just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. Following that selection, I personally read A Handmaid’s Tale. Both stories immortalize plights of women, fictional on the page, but, as the saying goes, “The struggle is real.”

I don’t dwell on it most days. It doesn’t do to dwell on such and, as Dumbledore would say, “forget to live”.

And I’ve been told that inequality between the genders isn’t actually real.

By a man, of course.

I’m not sexist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do recognize the imbalance of a set of scales when I see it. And I see it. Daily.

All of the women in the stories I’ve devoured these last weeks have, in whatever way they could, taken their fate into their own hands. Breaking the societal rules, sometimes to their own detriment. Not speaking up, speaking out – it’s equivalent to being complicit. These women decided to make some waves.

The complexity of our gender was personified in the range of Aretha Franklin’s songbook. From the call for respect, to recognizing the need for love and tenderness and appreciation. To feel “like a natural woman”.

I guess it’s complicated. This coin where, on one side, there is power. The other, femininity. It would seem that so many don’t know how to hold this coin and appreciate the whole thing at once.

It goes back to the compartmentalized thinking of a man, versus the “big picture” thinking capabilities of a woman. Because if anybody has the capabilities of seeing through, seeing beyond, seeing the whole – it’s a woman.

We have to.

Because we have to weigh every choice we make in it’s complex entirety. Aware of it’s every implication in not only our own lives, but the lives of those we care for. Our spouses. Our parents. Our children. Our sisters, both biological and not.

These traits aren’t exclusive to women, but I, personally, see them exemplified in women much more often.

In the “fairer sex”, I see a higher willingness to set aside the one thing that men often cannot: pride. We set it aside to do what is best for the whole. The “big picture”.

We do this setting aside of our own wants, desires, even needs, because it is so often necessary to keep rocking that proverbial cradle.

Which is why I’m so thankful for the women in my life. The ties that bind us. Homemakers and business professionals and entrepreneurs. Singles, widows, divorcees, and wive. Mothers with children and mothers without: we have one another. We need each other.

Because, sometimes, that R.E.S.P.E.C.T.? We only get it from each other.