In 1996, Hillary Clinton wrote It Takes a Village. She was referring specifically to raising children and the role that society should play in this all-important task, but the statement is more far reaching than perhaps even Clinton had intended.
We teach our children about respect, acceptance, tolerance, compassion and empathy. We encourage them to be good friends, embrace diversity and display kindness. These lessons are taught at school, are spoken of and hopefully exemplified at home and most of us when asked what we want for our children, we use words like "happy, kind and healthy."
We tell our daughters that they can be anything they want to be and we teach them about shattering glass ceilings and squashing stereotypes. We as women have come a long way and we have been empowered by the strength of the feminist movement. We are strong and we stand united. But do we really?
When I hear moms judging other moms for their parenting choices, I don't feel at all that we're standing united. When I watch shows like "The Real Housewives" series, which feeds off of destructive drama, tearing one another down and behaving in ways that we would surely discipline our children for, I don't feel at all that we stand united.
The Miriam Webster definition of feminism is "organized activity in support of women's rights and interests." How are we supporting women's interests when we're always looking for fault and wanting to validate our choices by ridiculing others? Many of us (not all) participate in this ridicule in one form or another on such a regular basis that we have grown immune to its effect.
Women, what is wrong with us? We should be supporting each other! We all face the daily challenges of balancing work, home and life. We all know the less than pretty feelings that sometimes come with juggling everything thrown our way. We all have different coping strategies and different styles, but we're not that different. Our end goals are all the same. We ARE united but our judgments are preventing us from truly BEING united.
We want to be regarded as equal to men in the workplace and in society but we want to be better than one another? How can we possibly accomplish unity when our energies are so mal-focused? Think of how much more constructive and productive we would be if only we could put our judgements and insecurities behind and practice the lessons that we preach to our children. Let's stop our anti-feminist behaviour and actually get back to the roots and the heart of feminism.
We are unknowingly doing an immense disservice to the work of women like Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, Ruth Ginsburg, Sojourner Truth and all the other strong and determined pioneers and advocates for women's rights.
It's time we pick up where these women left off. The feminist movement cannot propel further if we keep holding ourselves back. We, my friends, are our own worst enemy. It may take a village to raise a child but it also takes a village to be a strong woman.
We need the support of each other. We need to let go of the unrealistic expectations that we place on ourselves. We need to be honest with ourselves and really reflect on whether we're being the kind of person that we're raising our kids to be. We need to change about ourselves what we see as change-worthy and accept the rest. Accept our imperfections and be tolerant of others' imperfections too. When we're able to accomplish all of this, only then will we have the kind of village that I want to live in.
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