Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Being a Woman

Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody. (Jane Austen)

Jane said it well. Giving a girl an education gives her the means of relying on no one but herself, should that be required. Certainly, many a girls dream is to find her prince charming, settle into the castle and be taken care of emotionally, mentally, physically and financially. Oh, but just a dream that is for most, though. And these days, many don't even dream that. Generation after generation of women have found their reliance on a man only brings them disappointment, sadness, grief, self-doubt, insecurity, mistrust and fear. Mothers have taught their daughters, based on their own personal experiences usually, that relying on a man is not the thing to do these days. If I take this a step further, relying on anyone to help define who you are as a human being, whether a male or female significant other, isn't the smart thing to do.

Various sources indicate that the divorce rate in the United States has reached up to a staggering 50%. While that blows my mind in many ways, it also doesn't surprise me. There are very few people that I know who have stayed married to their first spouse. This isn't stated in a judgmental fashion, it's stated simply as a fact. While it is an unfortunate fact, it is a fact, nonetheless. The psychological aspect of why this is has been analyzed in many ways. That's not the purpose of this post, though. I'll leave that to the sociological and psychological experts.

At one time, marriages were considered business transactions. Although, while I say at one time, I'm sure this is still a fact on many social levels today. If I break it down from a business perspective, which lately includes an accounting refresher, the business of a marriage would include 'debits and credits' and 'assets and liabilities'. Crazy to think about it in those terms but when you turn on the news and hear stories such as this one, there's no denying that accounting terms are taken into consideration in some marriages these days.

Throughout history, men are depicted and have been considered the stronger sex. It's a fact in so many different respects, starting from the physicality aspect of it to the social standing aspect. A quick peruse of the list of CEO's for the top Fortune 500 companies in America is proof that women still have a long way to go if they'll ever reach the same status and/or level as men. If ever.

In my lifetime, I've not lacked the presence of strong women in my life. Starting with my own mother, both of my grandmother's, my step-mom, various aunts, friends, mentors, colleagues...countless women who have shown me the strength that God has given to the 'weaker' of the two sexes. Women who have stood up to men who have wanted to dominate, control, oppress and manipulate. Women who have made it on their own personally, professionally, spiritually, emotionally.

Contrary to what might be assumed, this is not being written in opposition of men. I love men. I'm married to a wonderful man who understands and respects the strength and courage that women have been blessed with. He was raised by four very strong women and always refers to his maternal grandmother as his grandmother and grandfather, whom he never knew. I'm blessed that my father is still alive, as well as my step-father who played a major role in my upbringing. Many men have taught me many things about the roles they accept and play as husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, friends.

Unfortunately, though, there are many men who abuse the roles given to them. Men who seek to dominate and emotionally control as a way to pad their egos and hide their lack of emotional maturity. I've been exempt by this type of man most of my life, but alas, another lesson in life reared it's head. I've seen hypocrisy, in one form or another, my whole life. I'm sure we all have. Allowing someone into your life who claims to live one way, but turns out to live it another, is always a learning lesson. A wolf in sheep's clothing, so-to-speak. Jane Austen also stated, "Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast." She was so right! The details aren't important, the learning lesson is, however. And what I learned is that to stay true to who I am as a woman, who I was raised to be - even if I daily seek to change and improve all aspects of my being into a better, more balanced person - is to fall back on all that I've learned. All I've learned from the strong, amazing women in my life, and from the men - most especially my husband.

Every day, every moment, life is my teacher.

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