The Beauty of Standing Together
I recently read an article in which Debora Spar, President of Barnard College and new author talked about her first book and her mission behind it. The book is entitled Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection. The book basically deals with the unattainable standards and expectations placed on women in our society as it concerns their careers, motherhood and daily lives. Debra talks about the idea of taking a step back and finding contentment in second place. She challenges women to accept not being the best at everything and to pick their priorities carefully.
I often discuss the impossible expectations placed on women in our society. There is an idea that you should somehow become Vice President at work, be the perfect wife with dinner waiting, the perfect mother and never miss a soccer game while still managing to look like a model doing it all. Any woman with any sort of reasoning knows this is not possible but yet we still hold ourselves and our peers to this unrealistic level of perfection. We should ask ourselves who created these standards. Who said those things (even if attainable) are the keys to fulfillment in life? And let’s be realistic for a minute – if you are putting in the rigorous hours to become a VP, then you are definitely sacrificing family time and commitments. Just as well if you are committed to attending every recital, football game or maybe took a few years off for the sake of your family – you’ve probably missed a few promotions and advancements.
Each one of these is a choice. A choice you have to be confident in so that you can get up in the morning and you can face yourself for the choice you made. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Others whom choose a different path are no better or worse. As women we must enter into a space of confidence so that we can support our sister even if her choice is different than ours. Even more so, we should support working moms whom are easily at a disadvantage when it comes to work flexibility, paid time off, etc. They are raising the children that will become our future generation. If you asking yourself, why must I support someone in a situation different than mine when I am not directly benefiting – the answer is simple. Because you are her ally. Whenever a group of influence or power speaks out for the minority group (the group with less power), there is movement that is made that cannot be accomplished any other way. If more women in roles of leadership or influence spoke out for working mothers that often times need more flexibility and time off from work due to a sick child for example, we may see a greater shift in the progression of job flexibility, paid time off and telecommute options available. In the end, we all (those with children and those without) would benefit in the long run.
We must put a stop to the division that is often encouraged in corporate settings. More importantly, we should do what we can to help the next woman along the way. It’s the most basic lesson that most girls received growing up – you are always stronger in numbers.
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