Recently I read an article about role models for women that essentially had my blood boiling. While the author made some occasionally interesting points (e.g. women trying to ‘feed the hungry without knowing the causes of poverty), overall I felt like the entire premise was ridiculous. It made me wonder: is this written just to stir the pot? Is this paper trying for a reaction? Does it take brash statements to get people to read an article? Maybe, because I read half the article on break, and the remainder at home after finding it on the web.
Here is the crux of the article: women are no longer great role models. Why? I don’t know. Because they get famous for doing things within their comfort zones. They do well with what they know well. And this, somehow, justifies questioning whether women today are worthy of admiration and influence.
Firstly, if someone is ever going to succeed, they’ll need to stretch their comfort zone eventually. Secondly, personal struggles are often personal (i.e. not for public knowledge – unlike this blog!), so who are we to judge a women’s journey as unworthy? And thirdly, what’s with the ‘famous woman’ obsession anyhow?
Every day I have the privilege to know and work with great female role models. These ladies aren’t on magazine covers, I don’t think they’ve won awards (at least not lately), and who knows if their ‘greatness’ was forged during times of trial – who cares? I look at them now, and find inspiration. Whether it’s encouraging culture, family, gardening, art, security, adventure, light-hearts, passion, calm, or good humour – their lives inspire me. And not only my colleagues at work! What about my mother who works so hard and believe so vehemently in her vision; who can’t admire that? Or my friend who is so good at knowing what others need and making sure they’re comforted (a huge help during my chemo treatments)? Or my other friend who has followed an impressive career with pursuing a PhD? Or my GRANDMOTHER who at 91 has become an expert in the condition of Alzheimer’s, and has contributed hugely to the well-being of everyone involved in that unfortunate situation. Or my aunts who move across the country, learn new languages, go to retreats, reach out after years of disconnection, send cards to help the healing; how can I not admire them? And – because I’d be daft to overlook – what about the women my own age who are shaping their identities, taking risks, holding convictions, starting families – aren’t they admirable for their courage too?
AH. OKAY. Now my blood is boiling again. Because how can anyone question the presence of female role models today when they’re everywhere I turn?
The women in my life are amazing. They are amazing. And everyday (particularly with this blog, and since joining breast cancer forums, twitter, and exploring the post-diagnosis life) I meet increasingly more women who leave me inspired.
How can other people be missing this? Incredible women are a world-wide phenomenon, just as they were in the days of Emily Bronte and Helen Keller, and just as they will be in the future with spaceships and transporters and holodecks (have I just discredited my argument by referencing Star Trek? Hmm, Captain Janeway – also an incredible, albeit also fictional, woman).
Women role models are everywhere. And so are incredible men. Yes, I’ve overlooked them in my defence of women who are awesome, but must say that the men in my life have been really quite something too. Don’t even get me started on my husband, or my dad, or my brothers, or my friends, or my manager . . . let’s just leave it as a thumbs up for men.
Point: There’s a role model in many people, and hopefully you’re like me: really lucky to be surround by them.
Anyhow. There’s my two cents. The boil has been reduced to a simmer.