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Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the category “Women’s Issues”

Female Friends

Female friends…thank God I have them.  I have heard numerous stories, negative portrayals, of women by women about how we relate to one another.  Sure, at times I am left confused by our interactions in workplace environments (but I will again address that at another time).  Likewise, there are those moments when we pass each other on sidewalks or in hallways and turn our heads.  Are we serious?  With all of the dangers that lurk, can we really afford to dismiss each other so easily or have we collectively agreed to each her own.  Friendship though, now that is different.  (Or is it?)  After all, we invite these relationships into our lives.

Friends

There have been times when, though my best efforts, I still seemed to end up with a few Judasettes in my crew.  Such is life, right?  All the while,  I defined—only to redefine—what friendship means to me.  In doing so, I learned more about myself.  Likewise, I began to pay even more attention regarding the world in which I live.

I understand that for me, it is vital that I have strong female friendships.  I not only want to hear, but I need to hear words of wisdom from wise women.  Why?  Well, I hear viewpoints—wise or not—from men all of the time and let’s face it, I am a woman.  I want to hear what other women, particularly wise ones, have to say.  (Iron sharpens iron.)

There are things that I experience because I am a woman and I want to hear of shared experiences, learn from similar experiences, avoid pitfalls, celebrate, guide, receive advice from, laugh, cry, encourage and be encouraged by people who know what I am talking about.  When I say, “It’s too hot to wear pantyhose,” I do not want to have to explain why. If I am asked, “What’s wrong,” and I respond, “Cramps”, I want that to end the conversation…for the day.  If I am addressed as “Hun” or “Dear” in a workplace environment (which I have been), I want support on how to best handle such a scene from a woman’s vantage point.  Also, spiritually, there are situations of faith where women may minister to me more effectively.

I am extremely thankful for the female friends I have.  My hope is that all women have a group of women who uplift, enhance, and advance their lives.  Maybe if we speak more on our positive experiences, others will too.  It will be evident that it is not only possible to have positive female friendships, but that they are plentiful.

Be well my Sisters,

Mother’s Day Reflections

Mother’s Day is approaching, so naturally I find myself pondering the lives of my mother, my grandmothers, and so forth.  Interestingly, as I age, I find myself often thinking about the times in which the women of which I come from lived (and live).  As I continue to grow as a woman, my appreciation for their lives noticeably deepens.  No longer do my thoughts start and stop with gift purchases and activities when I prepare for Mother’s Day.  More so now than ever,  I have an awareness that the celebration of Mother’s Day is a celebration everyday.  I have my mom to thank for this.  I see how she shows her love for her mother daily.  Interestingly, because of her example I take note when I see other women and men do this for their mothers.  Their sweet gestures oftentimes are just between mother and child—unless the mother publicizes it, a child’s sincerity rarely does.

Mom and Daughter

As I observe the placement of women (our expected roles, the abuses many suffer, the stories others tell about us, the messages we tell ourselves), not only in this country but around the world, I search for indicators of better days for the girls of tomorrow.  I listen to the stories my mother tells, the stories my grandmothers tell.  I listen and I wish I heard them earlier.  Their successes make me smile.  Their struggles bring me sadness.  These women are wise and knowledgeable.  They are strong, stronger than I ever thought.  The lessons they share aid me in life, even our disagreements are not easily dismissed.  A younger me would insist to be heard.  Now, I am finding increasingly more value by listening.  Through their voices, I find abounding treasure.  In them, I find sources for obtaining honest, vast, intergenerational viewpoints from women.  Unfortunately, these expressions are regularly devalued in mainstream society.

As I think about my love for my mother,  I cannot help but to acknowledge my mother’s love for me.  I have seen her sacrifice for me.  Still, I know there are numerous sacrifices that she has made for me of which I will never know.  Without hesitation, she tells me to be me.  She supports my growth.  She believes in me.  She loves me.  I love her.

Mother’s Day…..a day when many will exchange gifts and restaurants will be full….a day when graves will be visited and memories will flood minds….Mother’s Day….appreciating her….everyday.

Speaking of the Heart

Did you know that heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in America?  This morning when I heard this information on Good Morning America, I was shocked.  Who knew?!  Why is this?!  Wow!!

Mentor Needed

Studies show that 1 in 3 women die every year from heart disease.  See:  https://www.goredforwomen.org/about-heart-disease/facts_about_heart_disease_in_women-sub-category/statistics-at-a-glance/  Ladies, stress will kill you!  Know the signs:  chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, abdominal pain, and/or flu-like symptoms.  I know; I know.  These symptoms could indicate something else.  True, but better safe than sorry.  Don’t delay treatment!  Too many of us do.  We can, however, do better.

Have you ever had the experience of seeing someone one day; and unexpectedly, the next day they have died?  It has happened to me twice.  The most recent time was last week.  Some images just linger, you know.

As I was about to leave, I noticed that the person was uncomfortable.  It was so obvious that I commented on my observation.  Also, I told the person to, “Take care”.  Two words.  In hindsight, I wonder if my departing words could have motivated medical attention. Two words… “Call 911”; “What’s wrong”; “Stand up”.  Two words.  One life.  One death.

Listen, life is stressful for everyone.  Many times, it is easier to pick up fast food and/or omit weekly workouts.  In the long run, the impacts of overlooking these things will manifest itself in ways that may make our heads spin.  Let’s invest in one another.  I know that many times we are given societal messages to compete against one another.  A house divided will not stand.  We are human.  We are one house.

Let’s evaluate our individual strengths and use them the help lighten the load for at least one woman.  Be her sister, for real.  Your presence should brighten her day.  Her presence will brighten his day.  Their presence will provide long-lasting rays for  generations to come.

Compressions.  Beats.  Breaths. I’m talking LIFE.  I’m speaking of the heart.

Business Woman Model

Recently I saw something that was really awesome.  It happened within a split second.  If I had blinked, there is no doubt I would have missed it.  Glad I did not miss it.  I would have missed her.

Recently, I saw a “business woman model”.  This model is unique.  Her findings are rare.  After all, how often is she portrayed in film?  When do we hear about her in music?  Who is reading about her in books?  Although present, she is oftentimes invisible.  In a traditional sense, I guess her omission would make sense.  Society’s message has been that men make the bacon (i.e. money) and women fry it up in a pan.  With that being the standard, who would expect a woman to have and operate her business to make a significant profit?  She would seem out of place out of the kitchen, right?

Blog Woman Business

Over the course of my lifetime, I have seen numerous women in leadership positions.  I have seen them lead families, lead projects, lead departments, etc..  I have also known women who own their own businesses, but recently I saw something I had failed to identify before.  Was it there and I had somehow missed it?  I can only wonder.  What I saw was an outgoing, professional woman with a very kind heart and a generous spirit.  I saw a woman who understands the obstacles of running a business in general and as a woman specifically, and who is not afraid to speak on them.  I saw a woman who, within her own confidence, recognized and appreciated the potential she saw in another woman and without hesitation offered to be an asset.  Housed within the words she spoke lived work-life balance.  This woman encompassed all of that, but within a split second—the second I could have missed had I blinked— I saw her business wisdom illustrated by her knowledge of the importance and purpose of money.  OK. OK.  It was slightly more than one second, but her subtle delivery could have been easily missed.

The timely presentation of this model was great to see.  I am looking forward to learning from it.  I am looking forward to sharing.  It can only make us better.

The Silence of Being Victimized

There I was walking in downtown Jacksonville when it happened.  It was in the mid-morning hours.  The weather was mild; skies were clear.  I was wearing a business suit, carrying court files as I was returning to my office from the courthouse.  Mentally, I was thinking about the tasks that awaited me that day.  There would be many.  My thoughts, however, were interrupted by sounds coming from across the street.  I turned my head to look.  It was happening.  The construction workers across the street were catcalling me.  How embarrassing! Mentor Needed At that time, I was only one year out of school.  I was still learning the landscape of my profession and new environment.  The family I had in the city, I did not really know.  At times it was lonely, but I was making new friends while trying to balance the stresses of adulthood.  The last thing I needed was to be sexually harassed, publicly humiliated, and degraded for being a professionally-styled woman.  My feeling of embarrassment quickly turned into being livid.  What was their point, really?  Was such attention really supposed to entice me to scurry across the street, distribute my telephone number, and wait anxiously by the telephone…or was I supposed to ask for their numbers and call them?  What happened to being my knight in shining armor?  Oh, the stories little girls are told.

While looking forward, I acted like I did not hear them.  They continued.  There were a couple of gentlemen walking on the same sidewalk as me.  They did not challenge the construction workers though, nor did they say anything to me.  I would soon be in my office building.  I would soon be safe.

You know, I never shared this experience with anyone prior to this blog entry.  When I entered the building that day, I went about working as normal.  Although I wondered if such thing had happened to any of the other women I was working with, I never asked.  I bet it had and we were just not talking about it.  The silence of being victimized does not negate the experience.  The memory is already impressed.

A Message From Grandmother

I had a conversation with one of my grandmothers this evening.  If we are fortunate enough, we all should take time out of our busy lives to listen to their messages.  Admittedly, we do not agree on everything.  To me, it is not important that we do.  Our love supersedes any disagreement.

Mother-Daughter

There was a time when I would feel the need to express all of my views to my grandmother.  If a subject matter arose and her opinion differed from mine, I would not hesitate to let her know it.  Naively, I thought we were just having a conversation.  What I had not realized was how passionate a speaker I can be at times.  (In addition, I had not learned the power of my words.) 

I am grateful to my mother, however, for her constant reminders to let it go.  How silly I must have looked to my mother.  There I would be, intensely arguing my position to a woman whose viewpoints were significantly shaped by decades of life experiences, not mere textbooks and news articles.  Because of my mother’s guidance and example, I have since learned that I gain more wisdom in the long-run by unilaterally agreeing to disagree in silence.  In truth, these disagreements do not happen much.  When they do, however, I am more mindful of how to express myself and when to let her talk without interruption.  By creating an environment in which she feels comfortable expressing herself, I can enjoy chats like the one we had tonight.  I can experience her telling me that she loves me, her laughter, her joy.  I can hear more of her life, her challenges, her victories, and her wants for my life.  She can bestow within me insight and hope for a better tomorrow; I believe in its possibility because I can see that her “tomorrows” are better.

Oh how I love seeing the brightness in my grandmother’s face when she smiles.  It makes me happy.  Her love is a blessing, as well as her honesty.  Without knowing it, she has taught me to always consider the BIG PICTURE of communication.  What is its purpose?  What is the heart of the speaker?  How important is the topic of discussion to me, really?

I do not expect, nor do I prefer, those in my intimate circle to be carbon copies of myself.  There are particular character traits that each must have, but I appreciate being a part of a diverse, mature circle.  I am stronger for it.  I am wiser because of it.  Certainly, I am more blessed.

Compliments

In the beginning of life, I would accept compliments with ease.

“Oh, you are so cute,” they would say.

“You are so smart,” they was declare.

“Yeaaaa,” they would cheer.

Both internally and externally, I would smile.  To be honest, compliments made me feel good.

BW.face

In elementary school, however, something happened.  I was teased and found it safer to downplay compliments.  It became enough, or so I thought, for me to know these things for myself without drawing unnecessary attention.  On one hand, it makes sense right?  It is best to not rely on external measures to define our self-worth.  Oh, but there is that other hand.

For far too long I shied away from compliments.  If someone gave me one, I would outwardly accept it graciously but internally I would feel immensely uncomfortable.  It really made no sense.  Why would I feel vexatious about something that I privately agreed with?  Was I really in agreement?

For a number of years, I have been correcting this emotional ship.  There is no need to be double-minded by fact.  I have gotten a chance to observe a number of men around me.  I have watched how they can confidently appear in public, but privately express great insecurity.  I have watched them professionally chase and obtain opportunities, even when they fail to meet all of the posted criteria.  I have had them encourage me to adopt a less compromising attitude about securing my goals and in turn accepting my value.  Change has arrived.

A few weeks ago I was greeted by a friend who I had not seen in awhile.  She said, “You look so good.”  I said, “I know,” and soon after walked away.  About five minutes later, I found myself laughing at the exchange.  It sounds arrogant on its face, but that was not my intent—although my response in fact was done so with total ease.  Guess what….  It felt great.

What I have learned is that to go where I am going, I must have a strong foundation of me.  People will always have their opinions.  I will always have my truth.

I have found that some people will project their insecurities onto you and if not careful, you will accept them as true.  I have learned to be careful.  We all have things to work on.  Accepting compliments is not on my list.

Dude, Hire Me!

I had a very honest conversation with a male friend of mine which has inspired this blog entry.  I truly appreciate my friend’s honesty.  The conversation left me pondering a couple of things.  I’ll touch base on a few….

So there I was, comfortably sitting on a sofa when my friend casually mentioned that he is significantly reluctant to hire women.  “WHATTTTT!!!!  WAIT…..”, I must have not heard him correctly!  Sure enough, I did.  For a split second, I struggled believing that this was his true thought.  How could my friend, a guy who I have seen debate unflinchingly in support of women earning equal pay and having equal protection under the law, have this bias.  I have seen him argue against injustices, not just on behalf of women but on behalf of other oppressed groups as well.  Surely he did not admit that his personal preference is to hire men because to him a man will always be his best candidate for any non-domestic job, did he?  YES, he did.

I resisted the temptation to argue with him.  Whatever he said would be unsatisfactory to me.  Anyway, I was more interested in determining how my friend could hold and potentially practice this view.  He explained his position, typical opinions I have heard before.  We would have to agree to disagree.

Mentor Needed

I left our conversation that day with many thoughts.  I still wonder how many men in hiring positions share his views.  Such practices, when gender is replaced by race/colorism, seem easier to spot and more commonly shamed…at least in theory.  The issue, at least with my friend, is not a question of “qualification”.  It is the idea of the traditional roles of women, minus the barefoot part (I hope).  In a society where so many women are financially heading households, in many cases singlehandedly, can she realistically expect to reach the top of her professional and financial ladders, even in situations when the entry door is slightly cracked for her entry?  Do women have a responsibility to help each other succeed?  Is such collective operation necessary for her individual success?  My thoughts…my thoughts…these are only a few…only to be met with that last one of, “am I the only one with them”.

I am happy that not all men follow this practice.  I have been hired by both men and women.  In turn, I have hired both men and women. Both genders have helped me further my career.  Both have tried to hinder it.  I have learned that not everyone is comfortable with a strong, opinionated, educated, professional, and in my case minority-labeled woman.  Let’s face it, when found outside of our traditional roles women make a lot of people uncomfortable.  Oh well, we are here now.  If “dude” won’t hire me, I will be left to determine whether I should hire “dude”.

Opening Doors

Recently one of my male friends and I were talking and I mentioned how I like when guys open doors for me. He was shocked.

“What,” I asked.

woman.door

Apparently because I am vocal in my support of women advancing and enhancing ourselves as women, he interpreted me as wanting to do everything myself. Really, who wants to do everything his/herself? I am not living isolated on an island. Help a sister!

For a brief second I was taken aback by his extreme assumption. He looked at me with a smile and said, “You continue to amaze me.” Isn’t it funny how generalizations affect how people “see” YOU? I loved the conversation that followed.

I told him that just because I can open a door does not mean to me that when situations arise, a man should halt himself from opening it for me. I totally support women who want to open (all of) their doors. In truth, most doors I walk through I open…and hold open for others. Still, I definitely take note of guys who reach for the handle first and allow me to step in. It is nice.

“You are like me then,” he said, “except you are more vocal.”

“I have to be more vocal if I want things to improve,” I explained, “I’m in an oppressed demographic. It is because I am a member of this demographic that I am not just like you. There lives your ‘exception’.” As I told him, if more men would take that same chivalrous attitude and open more doors for us at professional decision-making tables there may not be a need for him to refer to me as “pro-woman”. He chuckled. I winked. I was serious (though).

In Her Defense

A few nights ago I was reading the comments from an article regarding Bill Cosby. One comment in particular stuck out. It was from a man who expressed his shock that so many women were defending Bill Cosby. The term “so many” is subjective, but I understood his point.

Girl Silenced

In pondering his question, I now wonder if these women’s defense is in fact of “Bill Cosby” the “hero”, or are they of William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. the man. I wonder whether their reaction would be consistent if the alleged perpetrator had a different name, one other than that of “Hollywood Royalty”. Accusers numbered 1…2…3.

Sure, the Statute of Limitations may have run out for some, if not all, but that is not his point—or mine. Accusers numbered 4…5…6. Do we as a society truly value women or is her worth limited to “sex”? After all, marketers have proven that sex sells and she is often the seller to corporations’ net delight.

As I sit here, I am wondering, “Do we as a society truly not understand how money and power can silence a voice?” A governmental survey, specifically the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, cites that 1 in 5 women surveyed said she had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point. It also states that nearly 2 million women are raped each year. Furthermore, the survey found what many may have suspected, that sexual violence affects women disproportionately. With a societal problem this egregious, why is she still selling sex? Accusers numbered 7…8…9.

Images are powerful. They can trick people into being afraid of someone whose skin complexion is different. They can have you walk pass a dirty person who is begging for food without giving him a glance. They can have you question the wardrobe of a woman, a woman who has been raped. Accusers numbered 10…11…12.

I do not know if William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. is guilty or innocent, but I will not be another barrier for these women to overcome to have a voice. Accusers numbered 13…14…15…and so on and so forth? I am listening. Are you?

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