A Woman’s Place

susanbAs the mother of four daughters, and grandma to several granddaughters, I’m frequently asked (okay, twice) what advice I’d give to young women. Women are stronger than ever before, yet many men try to drag us back to the Victorian Era.

Men keep gettin’ up in our bizness, drafting regulations about our bodies, creating rules about everything from prom wear to breastfeeding, and making sure we’re slut-shamed if we behave out-of-line.

We’re called hysterical. We’re labeled as trouble-makers. We’re branded as unreasonable. We’re given a warm glass of milk, a pat on the head and sent to the kids’ table.

Men have had thousands of years to run the world – and I’m not impressed. Maybe it’s time they step aside and let women do the heavy lifting. (Which we can totally do.)
Here’s what young women (of every age) should know:

Own your voice. Don’t waste time explaining yourself and don’t apologize for being a smart, confident, breath of fresh air. Shout your brilliance from the rooftops and ignore those grumpy old men who slam their windows to block out the noise.

Live an authentic life. Travel. Get educated. Eat what you want. Drink what you want. Wear what you want. If a man’s morals are compromised because he caught a glimpse of your shoulders (or ankles, or earlobes) – not your problem. Instead of adding layers to our wardrobes, how about men get their minds out of the damn gutter?

Raise your standards. Life’s too short to be with someone who doesn’t appreciate your greatness. If your partner is fighting with you instead of for you, time to show them the door.

Think big. Remember that amazing idea you had? Remember how you set it aside because you thought you had to be something else? Dust that idea off. Shower it with love and attention. Don’t be afraid of big ideas. The world needs your creativity.

Plant yourself at the table. We’re tired of being dismissed. We’re sick to death of being talked down to (mansplaining, anyone?). We’re capable, functioning adults and we have something to say. Ladies, don’t back away when you’re described as “shrill” or “harsh” or “bitchy” or any other words men use to slap us down.

Give yourself permission to be human. We’re not robots who smile 24/7, tidy up after meetings and schedule luncheons. Don’t feel self-conscious if your expression isn’t “happy” enough. Look serious. Who cares? Men certainly aren’t smiling, cheerful androids.

Stand your ground. When you’re being pushed aside, refuse to budge. There are generations of women who fought for your right to stand tall, raise your voice and share your truth. They’re cheering you on. You can feel their energy, right?

Embrace your goddess self. The Greek goddess Athena is my go-to deity. She’s not only the goddess of wisdom, but the goddess of war. There are times you need to sit back and listen, and there are times you need to put on your kick-ass shoes and, well, kick ass.

Lift other women. Like a rising tide lifts all boats, a rising woman can lift an entire generation. Don’t gossip, it doesn’t serve you. Don’t be envious, it sinks your success. Link arms with the women around you and march forward celebrating each other’s triumphs. There is strength in numbers and our numbers are vast.

Listen up, men. We’re tired of playing small. Either join with us so we can move forward together, creating a world where our granddaughters and their granddaughters can thrive, or slink back to your Victorian mindset. There is no more middle ground.

 

Originally published in the Davis Clipper and The City Journals.

 

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