It’s International Women's Day, but what does that mean in 2020? What does it mean to be a woman this year and how do we navigate the waters of a world that haven’t grasped equality yet and is feeling the discomfort of having the mirror held up to its actions?
These are the questions that roll around in my mind these days as I look at the tweets, memes, blog posts and news articles. I see the potential for great change and danger in repeating ineffective patterns due to hurt and trauma.
Every year on this date one of the comments I see is, “What about International Men's Day?” I’ve seen varying responses, so this year let’s focus on this because I believe that this is a key component in the equality conversation moving forward.
It’s easy for me to see that as women struggle to gain equality it can seem as though men are being left out of the equation. There are two points I want people to consider. First, does talking about one group necessarily mean leaving the other one out? Is there only enough attention to go around for one? Second, how do we as a society, strive for equality, without repeating the mistakes of the past?
Brené Brown talks about a concept called conditional suffering. This is where there is a limit to how much you can suffer based on the relative severity of your problems to someone else’s. What Brené teaches us though, is that this idea of conditional suffering is not true. There is no limit to compassion, empathy or love. So, if the limit to expressing your suffering and looking for empathy is not real, then can’t we extrapolate that to the amount of support?
Having a day to celebrate the equality and power of women, doesn’t detract from men in any way. If this was the case, we could never have any awards, or days to celebrate anyone for fear that the people not receiving the attention would feel left out or villainized. Are we not capable of celebrating and asking for equality for someone without feeling threatened? It is only a function of our own insecurities and fears that stop us from celebrating others. It’s imperative that we all stop and take the time to reflect on how we can ask for the support we need to create a solid foundation of self-worth and acceptance for everyone.
Men and women are both human, and yet both have amazing differences which we need to celebrate and use to collaborate. There is a saying that you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it so we can’t solve the equality issue by applying the same societal norms that have been around for thousands of years and just expand them to include women. We have to create new ideas, beliefs and roles that are fresh and based on our enhanced definition of equality.
If we can settle the gender inequality issue perhaps it will go a long way to resolving inequality issues in general, because at the core, they stem from a fear of differences. We developed a frontal cortex in our brains, which differentiates us from the other animals. We need to use this centre of logic and reason to move past the instinctive fear responses and start responding in a way that promotes change.
Now go out and change the world,