Lending a Hand Instead of Closing the Door
Last week I read an intriguing post and subsequent comments on Keep It Chic (click here to read). The term feminist was brought up and discussed regarding its modern definition inspired by the author having had the opportunity to recently hear Gloria Steinem speak at a recent panel discussion. Followed by reading recent op-eds reviewing Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book and a profile in The New Yorker of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, I couldn’t help but ponder the concept of how women have and continue to help each other attain greater heights when it comes to equality and success.
It has been my experience to have received help from female mentors and fellow women on my path of education, career and life. However, I have also received unwarranted ignoramus exclusions and manipulative attacks from women as well. With that being said, men have also exhibited both of these behaviors toward me. While there are certainly many cases of women refusing to hold out their hand and assist other women reach the pinnacles they themselves have reached, to categorically state that women are less likely to help fellow women on their rise to equal economic success and top leadership roles than men is to ignore the many women who are and have been trying to inspire, awaken and educate women on how to do what they achieved. The problem, as Sheryl Sandberg suggests, is that often women don’t recognize or ignore the opportunity presented.
With so many misinterpretations and propaganda fueled attacks to scare potential supporters of feminism away, let’s look at the core of its doctrine - advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
Being a feminist doesn’t mean one believes women are better than men or that women should have special rights. But it does mean that regardless of sex, the same opportunities should be available and whomever meets the criteria should be able to land the job, buy the house, fight in combat, serve their constituents, etc. Be it a man or a woman.
Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you have to want to burn your bra or toss your razor. Adore fashion and the self-expression it allows? Fantastic! Wish to go braless and go native? That’s fantastic as well. Being an individual, being yourself, is part of supporting what feminism is all about rather than being expected to play certain roles even if it squashes your potential.
Being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to be a democrat or a republican. Ardently believe in being fiscally conservative? Perfectly fine. Fiercely believe in helping those less fortunate? That’s great too. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with other feminists, but it does provide you the voice to exercise your constitutional rights, rather than eliminating your right to serenade should you choose to sing.
Knowing one’s history, women’s history and history in general is vitally important in order to live a life of progress, growth and attainment of the life we want to live. As women, to recognize the rights we never had, but now are inked into our federal and state laws due to determined and strong women who came before is to not take for granted the opportunities that the world now offers and realize that the journey is not complete.