The walls of my childhood bedroom were covered with posters of people I admired. The majority of those posters were of women- Gabrielle Reece, Nancy Kerrigan, FlowJo, Steffi Graf, Mariah Carey. I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandmom, great-grandmother, mom, and aunt. I had female teachers in school, Sunday school, dance school, and female lacrosse coaches. My pediatrician was a woman, my dentist was a woman, and my eye doctor is a woman. At one point I had a female pastor, a female mail carrier, a female bus driver, a female hairdresser, and a female boss. I was related to and mentored by a female doctor, lawyer, professor, computer engineer, banker, social worker, teacher, and author.
How was I supposed to know that there were things women “couldn’t do”? I’d never seen one who couldn’t.
I didn’t even know that was a question or a topic of discussion, let alone that it was a movement, a fight for equality, a glass ceiling. I had no clue! The women in my world made it look so easy. Not only that, but they never talked about injustice or inequality, at least not to me, they just did the work, and they certainly never complained about it. I mean, my first item of clothing that I remember was a shiny red and yellow Wonder Woman undershirt. Wonder Woman!
She wasn’t called, Not Qualified Woman, she was WONDER WOMAN.
Now, years later and well aware, I’ve seen the attitude and posture of men who believe in a man’s job and a woman’s job and who don’t think both should have equal rights. I’ve witnessed firsthand a male manager be downright rude about an employee who was new mother and who needed to pump breast milk during her shift (even though she clocked out to do so) and didn’t understand why her doing it in the public bathroom wasn’t good enough for her.
I’m so grateful that my most malleable years were not lived with those ideas, beliefs, and truths in mind. I am so very grateful for every woman in my life and for their influence. I feel like a bit of a fraud to stand amongst them because they did all the hard work. I’ve yet to knowingly face a battle or man that challenged my worth or ability because of my sex, but statistically, it’s happened.
The glass ceiling still exists, there is still an ‘unseen, yet breakable, barrier, that keeps one [women] from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of qualifications’. But how lucky you are to be growing up in a world where women are both CEO’s and stay-at-home moms. Where barriers are not just being broken down, but the building of such is halted from the start. You live in a time where inequality still exists, but where you have a platform and ability to freely speak up and advocate.
Women’s Rights Are Not Just About Women.
At the very least, guys, think of how you’d want the woman you love the most to be treated. What opportunities you’d want to be available to your daughter and/or how you’d want someone to treat or pay your wife or mother. This fight is about human rights, about the equal and fair treatment for all. Lend your voice, use your platform, and exercise whatever power you have to close the inequality gap.
A month ago, along with the rest of the modern world, I lamely ‘participated’ in International Women’s Day by tweeting a few ‘girl power’ tweets. But I wanted to do that day and the women in my life more justice by sharing my experience and formally saying thank you. I hope that your life is filled with many of the same strong female examples and that you work to be one also.