|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!