You may giggle, thinking I'm making light of the fact that men often voice their woes about dealing with the female gender. This is partially true - I've been asked numerous times (as my perpetual single status lingers on) if I've ever considered "switching teams" and becoming a lesbian. My usual answer to this is a quip along the lines of my adverse reaction to dealing with another crazy chick (because I myself, am a little wacky sometimes). I realize this plays into every terrible stereotype and does nothing to aid our gender in moving forward toward genuine equality. I will admit, I'm not the best feminist. In reality, the subject of women and the myriad of issues facing our gender across the world is staggeringly complicated.
As part of a growing demographic of single women, my view on the subject is of course steeped in my own experience. I am but a speck on the horizon of the female experience; but I'm increasingly coming across literature about single women and how their growing numbers are influencing society. As part of this spinster movement, I can't help but devour anything coming across my path that speaks to this - I've just finished Kate Bolick's Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own, a piece of writing I'm still digesting as it speaks directly to my very single soul, who struggles constantly with societal expectations (however outdated they may be) and my own goals in life. I've come across articles in Maclean's and New York Magazine, adding to my growing collection of information about what it means to be a single woman in today's day and age (click the links to read the articles).
It's International Women's Day, and the theme for celebrating women this year is drenched in gender parity. It calls for women to have parity with men; equality in status. I might be a terrible feminist, and I'm quite certain this blog has played into the stereotypical issues that have plagued women for centuries, but it always comes as a surprise to me that our society still struggles with this issue. I could launch into a rant about gender parity, but truthfully my knowledge on the issue is sparse and I'm a relatively non-political person. I've been a part of the largely female-dominated profession of nursing for 8 years now, and am fortunate enough to know that my male counterparts make precisely the same amount of money as I do, and may actually experience what some women may come across in their male-dominated workplaces.
When it comes to being a woman, I can only speak for myself - we are a complicated bunch; our lives are a unique tangle of expectations, dreams, emotions, goals, and struggles. My worth as a woman is sometimes still entangled with my inability to bear children, harkening back to the caveman view of women as part of a production line for the human race. I grew up grappling with viewing myself as "womanly;" a skinny, flat-chested girl who spent more time with the boys next door drowning bugs in a pool and playing with Lego than I did with the girls, playing Barbies and dress-up. I endured ridicule because I didn't have breasts, and didn't quite fit into the feminine mould adolescent boys (and fully-grown men, even now) had in mind. I, like every other woman on Earth, struggle with my body and my self-esteem. My negative experiences pale in comparison to those sustained by so many women around the world - genital mutilation, domestic violence, and inequality to a horrendous degree...just to name a few.
Despite any negativity I have experienced, from within just as much as without, I am a woman. And I would be nowhere without the women in my life who are a constant source of strength, inspiration, and grace. It would be easy to attribute that solely to my mother - she is hands-down the most influential woman in my life. But I have been incredibly fortunate to collect the most amazing friends, and to create friendships with the women in my family. I have watched these women face every circumstance - divorce, single parenthood, death, domestic violence, mental health struggles, and basically just life - with so much courage and grace it brings tears of pride to my eyes.
So today, I want to recognize the women in my life: my mother, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, coworkers, and friends. You inspire me, every day. I am in awe of how you move yourselves through life, taking so many different kinds of struggle in stride, and exuding so much grace. I am blessed to have shared tears, laughter, conversation, and love with you.
P.S. - Adding to the ever-growing soundtrack of my life (and blog), this song crept into my thoughts and onto my iTunes while I wrote...