We say things like "I want every young girl and woman in the world to be fierce, strong, and fearless" or "women should be confident and empowered enough to tell their truth, speak their mind and defend themselves" or "one woman, every woman...we are a sisterhood!"
That's a lot of sweet talk and it sounds delicious to hear, really it does.
The only issue: talk is cheap.
Throughout my life, God has gifted me the opportunity to cross paths with a select group of women that have served as continual guides, mentors, and champions of mine. To the women I'm referencing: May God bless you with the same love and support you have shown me at every point in life you will equally need it.
Keeping in mind that such female supporters of women exist, it's only fair to acknowledge the other side of the coin -- women who do not support other women. There are several reasons for this.
Sometimes, it is fear that another woman's presence threatens ones sense of confidence and security so the response to such stimulus becomes mean-spirited words/actions and "adult bullying".
Sometimes, it is a distorted belief that being a "strong" woman is equivalent to intimidating and oppressing younger women who are more soft-spoken or humble or less experienced in one way or another (e.g. in a particular field at work).
Sometimes, it is residual bitterness lingering from being the target of unfair and nasty treatment in the past (e.g. as a new daughter-in-law or as one of the only female employees in a work setting) so it seems justifiable to "pay the nastiness forward" and offer the same ugliness to female newcomers in your environment.
Sometimes, it is a resigned attitude that "it's a man's world" and the only way to get ahead as a woman (in terms of power and prominence) is to operate from a sexist mode, discriminating and showing prejudice against other women.
The circumstances can be different but the result is always the same -- women getting hurt, betrayed, sabotaged, and devastated by fellow women either within a family unit or at the workplace or within a social group.
I can easily think of women I've encountered in my life to cast such blame on but that actually won't help. Instead, in a bid to follow the mantra of "becoming the change you wish to see", I'll focus on personalizing this issue.
My call to action is to consciously remember that the way I daily choose to talk to or treat other women I cross paths with can have a direct impact on their attitude, passion, and level of optimism or pessimism in this world -- which in turn creates a ripple effect on how they treat other women in their lives and honestly, what energy comes back to me thanks to our ever-faithful friend karma.
My goal is to remember this enough so that the amount of kind words and advise and gestures and opportunities I offer will exponentially grow and in turn, will mean I leave a legacy as more of a help to my fellow woman and less of a harm.
To my female readers, what's your take on the issue? How does feminism and the empowerment of women play out in your lives?
I'd love to know :)