If you are a woman, you know what it feels like to be treated as less than. And if you’re a darker shade than pasty white, you’re especially know what it feels like.
A lifetime of such treatment can lead to a range of issues from a lack of self-esteem and self-worth to a full blown trauma response and chronic illness.
[Before you dismiss the word ‘trauma’, most of us have experienced some form of trauma / abuse / toxic stress and have lived some form of trauma response, including chronic illness. For more information on the connection of abuse or toxic stress and chronic illness, check out Is Toxic Stress the Cause of Your Chronic Illness?]
Celebrate Our Successes
Susan B. Anthony kicked off the Women’s Lib movement 100 years before it’s heyday in the 60’s. She was such a badass, she was even arrested for voting. It was a long road from Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton pavement pounding in the 1850’s to the long fought for 19th Amendment passed in 1920 permitting women to vote. Since then, we’ve gained unions, access to birth control, state and federal voting rights, the right to serve in combat, among many other gains.
Where We Are
While those gains are tremendous, it’s not nearly enough. And it’s sad that such basic human rights have to be fought for and politicized. Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women still make less.
According to the UN’s updated Sustainable Development Goals, domestic violence (in addition to other injustices against women) have increased during the pandemic as families are together round the clock.
Being perceived and treated as less than, whether by society, a boss, a spouse, or your parents when you’re growing up, has the effects of stripping you of your identity, destroying your self-image, and setting you up for repeated abuse. When that’s all you know, you’re brainwashed into believing that you are the problem. Even if it occurs to you to question, what can you do when your self-image and self-esteem are practically non-existent?
All of this is reminiscent to being raised by a narcissist, in which your identity is stripped away, belonging to the narc to mold like play-doh. Women are especially likely to experience trauma AND more likely to develop resulting mental illness such as PTSD and depression. Gender Disparities
Our brains are wired to categorize in order to make sense of things. We are also wired to notice differences for safety reasons. We can choose to use our prefrontal cortex to appreciate those differences and at least not feel threatened by them and to recognize that if a person or situation is dangerous, it is because of individuals – not a label that they happen to hold. Equality is for every so called label – women, blacks, Latino/as, Natives, transgender, gay, Christian, Muslim, whatever labels we can place on ourselves or others. We are more than our labels.
It starts on the ground, in our individual daily perceptions.
- 10,000 View – People outside your group (family/friend, community, country, religion, etc.) tend to be view as homogeneous whereas we see the individuality and uniqueness of our group members. What happens when we take the 10,000 foot view and see our ‘group’ as all living creatures on planet earth?
- Travel and Education – When you meet or learn about ‘others’, you see the similarities, you understand their realities and struggles and feel empathy and connection.
- Emotional Intelligence – Evidence shows our emotions may play a larger role in intolerance than previously realized. This fascinating article breaks down the study and it’s findings. What’s Behind Prejudice? Additionally, increasing your EI, increases your capacity and resiliency when subjected to others intolerance.
The Road Ahead
How will we know when equality has been realized?
We will know when every woman, black and brown person, LGBTQ, Christian, Muslim, poor person and every other marginalized person says they feel equal and valued in every place in every situation.
As long as there’s a church standing that does not permit women in roles of leadership – there is work to be done.
As long as women are taken advantage of in the auto shop – there is work to be done.
As long as women are dismissed because of their feelings – there is work to be done.
As long as women are sexualized – there is work to be done.
As long as women feel unsafe entering STEM careers – there is work to be done.
And as long as there is a little girl on this planet without the same educational opportunities as the boys – there is work to be done.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
We have been complacent for far too long. I encourage you to speak up for your rights; honor yourself as a woman or honor the women around you as if they’re your mother / wife / daughter because they are someone’s mother and wife and daughter.
Next week, August 26, 2020 is Women’s Equality Day.
How can you lift your voice for equality?
This Times article acknowledges the power of women’s voice in the online space. Speak up – other women are listening!
Learn what you can do
23 Inspiring Women Fighting For Women