I was riding home from work the other day and my favorite Erykah Badu song came on. It’s one of those songs that brings a huge smile to your face as soon as you hear the first few bars. It’s called Cleva. To me, it’s about knowing that a woman’s mind is sexier than her appearance. I love it every time.
Between the 50th anniversary of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and the release of Lean In by Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg, my iPod has been full of talk about the empowerment of women. The older I get, the more confident I am in calling myself a feminist. I’ve seen too much misogyny in the news lately to believe that women aren’t still seen by many as second class citizens. Young ladies, don’t be fooled into thinking the struggle is over.
I have heard a lot of talk about how women and girls tend to be less confident than men and boys. Men just rarely seem to question the idea that they can accomplish their goals, while women tend to worry that they won’t be good enough, their not qualified, or they won’t be accepted. We compare ourselves to others much more than men. It’s crippling.
A cursory scanning of my blog makes it abundantly clear that I lack confidence. I am probably one of the most insecure people I know. Is it because I’m a woman? Well, I’m not going to blame it on that. I’ll take responsibility for my own weaknesses, even if I won’t admit to my strengths. But I will say that I can relate to all those women out there who question their abilities. I’m not sure what the answer is. You can’t just tell yourself, “Be confident,” and then expect to be able to conquer the world. I just hope my daughter doesn’t inherit the same attitude. If anyone can take on the world, it’s that kid.
Oddly enough, I’ve worked with mostly women since I’ve come to Hawaii. It’s not competition with men that holds me back, but that dreaded comparison, usually with other women, that makes me feel like I just wouldn’t be good enough to pursue any of the endeavors I’ve pondered recently. I guess it’s time to suck it up, and get over it. Fake it ’til you make it.
Perhaps women are more emotional. Perhaps women are more nurturing. Is this weakness? Is empathy and compassion a barrier to strength and success? I guess that depends on what kind of world you live in. And the world is what we make it.