Are you a woman? Do you love a woman? Read on. #WHM

A black and white photo of three women hugging on the beach.

I’ve been thinking about women for a while now.

I’ve been a woman all my life. My coaching practice clientele is just over 50% women, and I’m now running several workshops, one of which is all women. So women are on my mind – and not just because it’s Women’s History Month.

Being a woman used to be something of an obstacle for me. Something to overcome. I wanted people to know I could do things (like math) despite being a woman. I’d tolerate and endure, put up with all kinds of gendered comments at school and harassment in the workplace, and not discuss it because I understood that was just part of being a woman.

I was smart, even though I was a woman.

I could run fast —for a woman.

I could throw — and not like a girl.

All these “compliments” were really  an insult to my gender. And I understand that both men and women who grew up in the 70s and 80s were conditioned to think this way. And life in the US before that was even worse; my mother couldn’t get a credit card without my father co-signing, even though she was our family’s primary breadwinner.

So your gal continued to hustle against the stereotype to prove herself. I saw myself as ‘better” than my gender and absorbed the accolades that came my way. I hustled harder as if I could unburden myself from the femininity, no matter how capable we are.

Lessons to Learn: Exceptions to the Rules

Lately, and without consciously setting out to do it,  I’ve done a deep dive into the stories of women. I’m fascinated by those who came before me (Katherine Graham) and those who came up with me (Jennifer Lopez).

When I look at women’s stories, I can’t help but recognize that misogyny, mental abuse, and sexual abuse is a part of their story. At an astonishing rate, sexual abuse is coupled with many highly accomplished women’s stories.

Here are some that I’ve been moved by recently:

  • Nyad: Watch this film. Recommended by a client, please note the content is for mature audiences. I love this story of Nyad’s historic (epic) swim from Cuba to Florida, and while she was over sixty years old!. An unprecedented accomplishment. Not the most sympathetic character, powerfully willful. Also — a joy to watch Jodi Foster and Annette Benning, two of my favorite actors who just happen to be women over 60 defying the “rules” about women in Hollywood.
  • Hidden Figures: This passed me by in theaters eight years ago, but not on a rainy winter day! Joyful, tearful and made me carry great joy for the accomplishments of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Gobels Johnson. Based on the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race, the film tells the story of three Black women who worked at NASA during the early years of the space race. One even held the job of “computer”, just as IBM was building theirs (natch, she was faster and more reliable). Required watching. Pharrel Williams is a producer, and a songwriter for many of the songs on the soundtrack. It’s solid.
  • Halftime: JLo’s Netflix documentary on creating her unforgettable Super Bowl halftime show with Shakira, is also JLo’s story of becoming, well, JLo. And capturing the vibe in the US February 2020 (so many of us auto rewind to March, forgetting the vibe just one month before Covid. JLo is two years my senior, and part of the reason I refuse excuses for slowing down, physically or mentally at this phase of my life. Powerhouse.
  • Bombshell: The story of how three female Fox News anchors risk their careers by speaking out against a culture of misogyny at the network. Here’s what happens when women decide to say “this is wrong”, despite the many structures that keep it happening. Please note the lack of contrition, support from colleagues, management and the HR department. 

Are you noticing something? These are all docudramas/documentaries based on ACTUAL events. Truth reveals.

Rewriting Rules and Restructuring Systems

I’m also intrigued by this article in the Washington Post Women are Divorcing, and Finally Finding Happiness. (If you’re not a subscriber, check out Lyz Lenz’s book, This American Wife). Her researched book and article takes a hard look at marriage — why men benefit and women don’t, and breaks down an institution that is decidedly anachronistic and one-sided in the US.

According to the Pew Research Center, In 45% of marriages, women are making the same as or more than men at work, but women are still contributing significantly more at home, with men averaging significantly less “work” time at home, and significantly more leisure time.

As is shared in the above article with a laugh, “Men think we like to do it, we think we have to do it.”

*Primal scream*

Women continue to run the majority of PTAs and are the majority of teachers in schools, nurses in our hospitals, and increasingly doctors now that doctors aren’t getting paid the way they used to (cause/effect?). Through volunteering and service work, women continue to be the essential community weavers and supporters of others. We often run the kids’ schedules, plan for holidays and vacations, know when vaccinations are due and complete those (really lengthy) questionnaires for summer camp.

I’m finding my way as a woman, and part of what’s helped me do that is becoming a mother. Natural childbirth helped me find my strength, as did having 3 babies in 16 1/2 months (yep, it’s as messy as it sounds). I enjoy being a mother, as I define it.

My definition is less Team Mom or Den Mom (gender stereotypes I want to choke on), and a lot closer to Apple’s version of Mother Nature, and one of the OG badass cartoon women of my youth, Mama Meiser (you can see her at the end of the video).

Women are magic. Hardship has helped us grow into the powerful, beautiful humans we are. I understand that may scare some. But watch those films above, remember what you (and the women you love) are capable of.


PS: Forgot to mention Barbie. Gloria’s speech nails it.
PPS: Next up on my list: Golda.

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