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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Superwoman is dead

Brett Jordan, Flicrk

Happy International Women's Day!

Some of us are in for a treat today: flowers, breakfast in bed and what not.

Many more of us are in for yet another miserable day of womanhood - I'm not talking about my friends and myself here, but about all those girls and women in the world who live a life of poverty and/or violence; it might feel like it's far from us, but I never forget that it exists - and that it's widespread.

For most of us, however, nothing special will happen today. We'll just go our normal way with a normal day of hard work, a little bit of play, a lot of love, and way too much responsibilities on our shoulders.

For the privileged Western, 21st century woman, the reality can be summarized as follows:

A lot of fish to fry.

Way too many of those fishes. Fishes that come in all shapes and sizes and with different cooking instructions; yet in many cases we have no choice but to fry them all at the same time, with the risk of overcooking some while others end up undercooked. To increase efficiency, we try to go fast with the frying; more often than not, we end up with small burns on our hands and arms. It can hurt a little bit. But mostly, it's stressful. Juggling it all takes its toll on women's physical and mental health. The numbers don't lie: turn your head left, turn your head right, and you've seen a woman with either anxiety, depression, or both... and I'm not even mentioning insomnia.

Where the heck do we think we're going like that?

Some days I wish I was a man from the 1950s: you go to work, you make money, you come home and you put your feet up. Supper's ready! Children come to you once fed and cleaned, for a cuddle and a story time (or a little game of baseball on the weekend), then they are taken to bed. The house is always clean, the groceries done, and your shirts are ironed. All you have to do is bring back some dough to pay for it all. Ah! the life...

Nowadays I don't know anyone with that kind of life... not even the men, who pitch in more and more with household and child-related chores.

However, when it comes to taking initiative and responsibilities, it often falls on women's shoulders. Things will be done if we ask... but we have to ask.

I know there are exceptions. I frequently witness it in my house. Love to come home to find that something has "magically" been done. The point is still valid nonetheless - the load of remembering what has to be done usually falls on women's shoulders. Most men I know will readily admit that.

Each and every one of those little responsibilities is far from overwhelming, but when you add it all up, and especially if you have a career, and if you are delusional enough to wish for a pastime or two... well, good luck!

On this International Women's Day, what I want to say is, let's stop putting so much on our own plate. Choices are difficult, sometimes cruel, always frustrating, but they have to be made. There is no way we can do it all.

Plus, the world keeps on going when women slow down. Hard to believe, I know, but I promise it's true!

A lot of our stress comes from trying to accomplish more than is humanly possible. There is a difference between what we wish we could get done and what we can actually get done. If only we were more realistic about it. If only we lowered our standards. If only we reminded ourselves that we are human, and that our needs are just as important as those of our loved ones: a good night's sleep, 3 sit-down, healthy meals a day, regular exercise, regular breaks. And respect. We deserve it.

Let's stop valuing ourselves solely for what we do for others, and let's take care of ourselves. Sounds revolutionary? I wish it didn't.

Let's not wait for someone else to give it to us. Let's just go and get it!


  1. Once again, right on.

  2. I'm with you - we do need to take some of the stress off of ourselves - now to just remember that every day!! I guess a little at a time is OK!!

    1. We need to learn that, and the learning curve is steep... but we can do it!

  3. I grew up in the fifties. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and she took care of everything that went on in the house, including my grandfather, and more. When my father got sick, she also took care of him and got an outside job to make ends meet. When someone suggested that my father be placed in a Home as he required lots of care, he said «I already have a home». When I look around, I see numbers of wives and daughters caring for husbands or fathers; this is a frequent topic of conversation and concern with women in my age group. Those women have an outside job, bring the bread home, and have another more-than-full-time job caring for their families. A lot of them, such as my mother in her time, are also caught in a «sandwitch» : having to care for both the older and the younger generation at once. Why do we do it? The next generation does not seem to be as "programmed" for this as we were. Then who will take care of us when we need it?

    As another friend rightly wrote: «Hey girlfriends, yes, we will likely end up old, alone (men generaly die earlier than women) and poor. We might as well plan to build or establish a retirement home that reflects who we are, because I cannot imagine living in any of the current homes.»

    1. Great points. Maybe we need to learn to be selfish... but then again, other women (our mothers, for example) will be among the ones who pay. Not an easy one.

    2. Indeed. I doubt that we ( as members of a society ) should strive to be selfish.

  4. Great article! Also, CBC Television recently had a show about this on their program Doc Zone called "The Motherload".

  5. my poor husband :-)
    I ROCK ROCK ROCK the putting my needs first so I can THEN help others...

    1. Just like on a plane: if a mask drops, you put your own on first! :-)

  6. Men in the fifties could afford to raise a family and put two kids through college on the salary they got from General Motors! Not so today.

    I think women have made tremendous strides in society, although they have to do jobs twice as well as a man to have the same position.

    Why this is even necessary and exists, I'll never understand.

    1. A lot of changes in half a century! There is hope for the future... if we go in the right direction. :-)

  7. I was raised primarily by my mother which give me a grand view of how hard a woman works on behalf of everyone else. I have almost no memory of my mom making time for herself. That breaks my heart, but it has also made me sensitive to the cause.

    I have few male friends because, most often, my male social contemporaries are an offshoot of that 1950s man you suggest no longer exists. They do still exists, they just wear baggy shorts, and Tommy Bahama shirts, and hide in the man cave now. I have nothing in common with these people.

    I know more single moms now than I ever have. I bow down to them, and help them out when I can, and bow down to all they do that few man are capable of.

    And I got one more for ya :-)


    1. Some women say it's actually easier when there's no man around...

      Okay, I'm leaving now. ;-)