I never gave the thought about being a woman a great deal of attention until I was well into my thirties. In fact any topic like feminism, gender equality, or on the opposite spectrum misogyny and domestic abuse didn’t really feature on my radar. If they did (and if I’m really honest…I could never escape them entirely) they did so because of the country I was born in (and because of the woman that gave me life…but I shall come to that later).
Sweden…for all its rights and wrongs, it instilled a deep sense of justice in me. The only problem when it came to women’s rights was that I took it for granted. I never experienced the gender inequalities, the sexists remarks, the expectation that as a woman you take care of the house and you hold down a full-time job. I never really thought about that I had to prove myself, be polite, pay tax for being a woman as I happen to be the one that menstruates, bare children and need to look good not just for the opposite sex but also in my profession.
Because I was young, and as the blonde and slightly naive Swede I thought Ithe only thing I had to do was to prove myself. That was until age set in. I discovered having a kid was seen as a burden rather than something that would add value to a resume or the society as a whole (endurance and a will to provide for my kids and family a few good reasons I could think of).
So there I was – in my thirties – with no mother to turn to when I needed one – and it became so self-evident. As a mother your main task (beside giving love and being a lover) is to keep the family together, keep the house clean, make sure food is provided at given times, be the overseer of the house hold economy (it’s why it used to be a subject in school – I had it!).
Besides this, you are suppose to hold down a full-time job and make sure that the wheels are oiled, so things go…let’s say smoothly. If this is not done well enough, you are suppose to take the proverbial punch bag by mean of a crass word to define your under performance. In some cases it might be even worse.
Now bare with me, I am not complaining, I really don’t, in fact learning these skills have been key in my quest for personal growth. But the problem is…I am the lucky one here. And so was my mother, I’d like to think, even though she suffered some years with my dad before deciding enough was enough and she pulled the plug. I never really got to hear the full version, and perhaps I was too preoccupied with myself to really care. I only heard it years later and then she was already gone. Despite this my mum was a great example of feminism. She worked, she had savings, she put me through private school, and above all she taught me two invaluable life lessons. How to love and how to respect. I never even knew how lucky I was until years after she died and I seriously started to want the impossible…my mum.
But of course there are many great women, some that never had children, some that were born men, but took the courage to be women. Some are young like Nujood Ali (I recently watched a documentary on her – here below) – the Yemeni girl who has campaigned against forced marriages before reaching the age of 10. Some are late bloomers, or just average women doing something extraordinary. There are so many whose actual names and faces escape me. But as I am writing this on the International Women’s day – I would like to say two things really:
Woman: shine your light, and never give up that fight that has been conducted by women in generations before you. Don’t see other women as a threat and don’t judge Her…because no matter her style, beauty or education you just have not walked a mile in her shoes.
Men: Think about the women in your life who does so many small, perhaps inconsequential things but who may spend 2, 3, 4 hours of her day to make your house a home, your life a little bit easier, and perhaps just a tad more pleasant.