What women want is respect. We’ve wanted it for a long time. And I’ll speak for myself, too — smart men are supporting our empowerment. They know having an authentic woman at their side is an asset. Still, females are frustrated. Our fury comes from unmet needs and we are still learning to speak up skillfully ourselves. Mt. Luther King was a fighter too – but, he demonstrated non-violently, and so must we.
But, getting heard requires clear intention and asserting ourselves. Ken Nair writes: “Sue was automatically condemned for her anger. On the other hand, Greg became the champion of justice when his anger exploded… In my experience that is because husbands have a tendency to hold wives absolutely responsible while they give themselves the freedom to be irresponsible and unaccountable.”
Well, time’s up. Women are speaking out. We want a better world. We want respect for all life. The days of witch hunts, scarlet letters and every kind of abuse needs to be over. Our world has learned cruelty from multi-generations and something broken long ago.
I admit, I’ve gotten tired of being talked “down to” and fired for nothing in my lifetime. I got sick of seeing eyeballs rolling upwards when I spoke. I’m so over guns and weapons and violence. (The obsession with pointed things?) We’ve learned too much violence through games, shame, blame, media and everywhere.
When I look back at being a young female I remember the pressure of skinny Twiggy and squeezing into uncomfortable tight skirts. These were first world problems, but still a part of a repressive system. Exploitation is learned.
I remember pulling up tight nylons over my legs on hot summer days. Within hours a zipper or pen would put a “run” in them. Ten dollars down the drain. We all want love and validation. So, there I was, holding my breath, pinching, and tiptoeing. Much more profound suffering exists worldwide but women are getting closer to feeling comfortable in their own skin. Multi generations of hatred and disdain in all humans need to go.
I remember my mother’s agitation when she disagreed with dad, her church or politicians. My parents fought a lot about whether we kids should go to Catholic school. My brother was spanked, bare-butt, in the classroom, in front of his classmates. I was wacked across the face for waving a pencil. I remember Mom storming up to the school and yanking me out of there. I see now how much she suffered, trying to fit into a culture that was outwardly polite but punishing.
Women are saying what we need. Dana Jack writes: “Through voice, we locate ourselves in the world and can be heard and found. When a woman fears the consequences of voicing her own perspective – whether from an abusive husband, a business that expects her to perform…a classroom that negates her orientation, a culture that has devalued her – then she becomes quiet in order not to draw negating attention.”
But, we’re tired of it. Phoebe Waller-Bridge says it well about “Crashing,” her new comedy series. “Being proper and sweet and nice and pleasing is a fucking nightmare. It’s exhausting. As women, we get the message about how to be a good girl- how to be a good, pretty girl – from such an early age. Then, at the same time, we’re told that well-behaved girls won’t change the world or ever make a splash. So it’s sort of like, well, what the f~ck am I supposed to be? It’s impossible.”
I didn’t understand my mother’s needs until now.
Aretha Franklin spelled it out, for all living beings, talking about her song “Respect:” “It was the need of a nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher – everyone wanted respect. It was also one of the battle cries of the civil rights movement. The song took on monumental significance. It became the ‘respect’ women expected from men and men expected from women, the inherent right of all human beings.”
Katy Byrne MFT, Psychotherapist in Sonoma, Ca. 707 548 8982, [email protected]