Maybe the fact of turning 70 compels me to be even more philosophical of late, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about how much we as women unconsciously influence what goes on in the world. I say unconsciously because I don’t think we are aware of our inherent power.
We live in a paradox: we have a sort of global perspective when it comes to running households, raising children, balancing life and work. We juggle so many things and have to keep track of who needs what when. So we are mindful of the big picture as far as our daily lives are concerned.
Yet when we look up–and out–and notice what is going on in the bigger world around us, we tend to hope that someone will come up with solutions for the seemingly massive problems of society. Most women don’t jump out and run for office. Most women don’t start companies. Most women don’t drive social change.
Most women do what they do very well, but don’t venture very far out of their comfort zones unless they are forced to.
I watched the Emmy awards last night and internally cheered when Nicole Kidman spoke of why she and her co-producers and collaborators felt that their HBO series, Big Little Lies was so important to develop. First, they were having great difficulty finding good parts for women actors. Second, they wanted to put a spotlight on domestic abuse. The two were really equal in importance to them. As the series kept winning awards, the recipients talked about the value of working together, as women, as human beings, to produce something that was so rewarding because it made a difference.
I believe that women make a difference every day. I see it in my own small way as I raise my adopted teenage child and help her think about herself and life in new and more meaningful ways, as I even just listen to her so she can hear herself talk, reason things out as she goes. I provide a warm and loving home for her. I have given her hope from what was a previously confused and somewhat lost existence. That definitely makes a difference.
But I also want her to see herself as part of a bigger world, to grow in awareness about things that matter. I recently placed a sign in our yard that says “Hate has no home here” in several languages. Before I put it up, she got sort of freaked out that it might embarrass her–she said people from her school walk by our house, might see it and think we are weird…. I explained that it was too important to me to worry about that. This is about standing up to Neo-Nazis and people who commit hate crimes. And when she saw the tears in my eyes about why I felt I had to do it, she relaxed and then we talked about the kinds of events going on around the world where hate seems to be a motivator.
I want her to care about those things. But if I don’t talk about them, she might not think about them.
Women have power. Women have influence. We are often the reason why men go out and fight wars. Why men go out and work and create families and become politicians and build businesses and, well, all the things men do. If you interview them, most of them will have a woman somewhere in their lives whose values or approval they want to live up to.
But we women don’t think about that! We wonder whether we are too fat, thin, old, young pretty, attractive, alluring, sexy, desirable. I say we are worrying about the wrong things!
I say we need to be thinking about what we believe in, what we want to change in the world, and then we need to TALK ABOUT IT. A LOT.
We need to help our daughters, nieces, neighbors, friends, girls and women we know–we need to help them think about what is really important! Because when we care, and when we DO something about it, things start to change. We can make a difference.
My dream is to see a world where there is a different balance between the masculine and feminine qualities in both men and women. Where women think of themselves as powerful, change agents, able to speak up and be heard. Where men think of themselves as collaborators, listeners, able to do what they do well, and add the element of caring to it. Not just caring if they have sex, or get dinner, but caring about whether children are educated, taught to be good citizens not just lemmings following orders.
My dream is to see more and more women walk around with a look of confidence, pride that they matter in the world. Women like that don’t get abused as easily. Those women push back, take their power and use it. Those women tell the truth. Those women don’t let bullies run the world.
We are those women, if we choose to be.