A New Standard for Women

A New Standard for WomenWe just recently celebrated International Women’s Day. I spent the afternoon scrolling through my social media accounts and delighting in the uplifting words and photos being shared (with the exception of the few small minded, antiquated men who posted things about women making them sandwiches, but that’s another article). Seeing so many women stand shoulder to shoulder in support of one another was such an encouragement. The problem is, International Women’s Day only comes once a year.

I think it is inconceivably important for women to support each other, but here’s the thing. It is so much easier said than done. It’s painless to love and uplift like-minded women who love us back. The burden becomes a lot heavier when we’re asked to love and uplift the women we don’t see eye to eye with.

Women are competitive. We lie to each other and about each other and we love to gossip. Getting the “scoop” on the struggles, mistakes and heartaches of another woman is considered a hobby and by some unexplainable lack of goodness and basic humanity, that’s okay with us. As if hearing about a fellow woman’s failures somehow elevates us. What we often don’t consider is that when we rejoice in the shortcoming of another woman, all it accomplishes is adding to our own list of shortcomings. I am guilty of all of this and until recently, I didn’t see the problem. As long as I don’t say it to their face, right? I thought that as long as I was loyal, respectful and supportive of MY friends, that’s all that mattered, but it’s so much bigger than that. My behavior was feeding a culture that derives pleasure from tearing each other down.

Only after a very painful period of introspection did I begin to recognize the gravity of what I was doing. Enjoying and contributing to gossip so frequently and casually was creating a standard. The lines that I wouldn’t cross were consistently being erased and redrawn until they just ceased to exist all together. While acknowledging these inadequacies in myself was difficult and uncomfortable, it was only half the battle. I refuse to be a woman who puts down other women and making that my new standard is a process. The reality is that we don’t have to agree and we don’t even have to like each other. But we do have to treat each other with respect.

We have the power to set a new standard. I want to be a generation of women who believe that success for one of us is success for all of us. Who root for each other and raise each other up. Who love one another genuinely and selflessly.  Who are honest with each other and place significant value in loyalty. Who don’t judge each other based on the way we look or the mistakes we’ve made. Who view each other as companions rather than competitors. We are responsible for the way the next generation of women view one another and the only way to lead is by example. I am stubbornly confident that we are capable of doing and being the things that will encourage and empower a better generation of women.

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Michelle is a young adult trying to strike a balance between accepting the latter and holding on for dear life to the former. She is a photographer, pop culture enthusiast, caffeine connoisseur, critically acclaimed napper, dog lover and champion of spending too much money at Target. She’s passionate about progress, community, and kindness and she is fully embracing the opportunity that working with Richmondmom affords her in pursuing those passions.