There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.-W. E. B. Dubois
International Women’s Day this past week had me thinking a lot about what womanhood means to me. Specifically, I was thinking about the future of womanhood. What will society be like for women in 10, 20, 50 years? What will the relationships between men and women look like? Will the same gender stereotypes and inequalities exist as they do today? I certainly hope not. My baby boy is only little now, but I want him to grow up knowing certain things about women.
1-Women are strong: The society of old paints women as meek, timid characters, unable of taking care of their own problems, relying on a man to swoop in and save the day. That notion couldn’t be any further from the truth. Women are capable of anything they set their mind to. They can take care of themselves. They are resilient, they are determined, they will succeed. They have dreams, and if they work hard, they can achieve them.
2-Women and men are equal: A woman should be allowed to do anything a man can do. She should get paid the same as a man does for the same job. One is not better than the other. Gender stereotypes are outdated and need to be disregarded. Women are not confined to the kitchen, men are not confined to the office. Our roles should be determined by our decisions, not necessarily our gender. There are so many opportunities in the world today, and everyone should get the same chance to succeed, male or female.
3-Women and men are unequal: Women have unique skills and attributes. Likewise, men also have their own unique contributions. We are complementary to one another. Where one may stumble or falter, the other can be strong and sure. Men and women should work TOGETHER to solve problems, as each can contribute their own unique perspective. We should lift each other up, praise each other’s successes, and comfort each other in times of sadness or failure. We each have our own special talents and ideas to offer, and both are invaluable.
4-Women deserve respect: Women should be treated with dignity and kindness. They should not be talked down to or disrespected. Their ideas should be valued and validated, their contributions should be honored. I hope that men think of their mothers when they think of women, and that they treat a woman the same way they would their mom: with love and respect.
I want to teach my son all of these things as he gets older, and I hope that all mothers are teaching their sons these things, so that the young boys of today can grow up treating women as equals and loving them for the strong, beautiful people that they are.