I call it the Rise of the Wayward Woman.
I call it time to embrace your phenomenal self, as a woman, in the 21st century. I call it time to tell the story - the real story - of you are. You can leave out some parts, I know there are some parts you don't want to share. But, for the most part, you need to cry a little, laugh a lot, and get angry, then joyous, because the telling of your story is just the beginning of your success.
In a keynote given at the Women in the Pet Industry Network last year, I focused on the power of women to day to rise up; to take charge; to shed the Goody Two Shoes cloak they had wrapped themselves in, so many years ago. It's a heavy burden and all of us need to throw it off with vigor! We need to trample that cloak of 'be a good girl' - trample it into the ground until those dark fibers that have held us back all these years, are nothing but dust.
Is it happening? Can we do it?
This is not new. Those of us who accept the Baby Boomer label know what it's like to Rise Up. We were deep in protests back in the day. Those riotous 1960s. I look back on those days and the shouts and cries and raised fists and I feel proud that we "burned our bras!" But I also see children. I see young women who had no idea what they were demanding, nor how to achieve their desires. Yes, we wanted equal pay. We wanted to be respected. We wanted to be taken seriously. We wanted the same opportunities as men. We knew we were just as smart as any man, anywhere!
And yet, in 1980, we were laughing at Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda in "9 to 5" - the story of "three working women living out their fantasies of getting even with, and their successful overthrow of, the company's autocratic, "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss." We saw ourselves in the movie, but we were blinded to the reality of it - they were doing what we wanted to do and couldn't.
The joke was on us, as life for most working women was reflected in the movie and not only had nothing changed from 1960, it had possibly gotten worse!
My life as a working woman was full of unwelcome advances, of pats on the back, and numerous requests for coffee, because, after all, that's what women did best - they made coffee and tapped into their waitress soul to bring it to the 'boss'. Mind you, being a waitress is hard work and deserves far more respect and appreciation than it gets! But, in a business, an office setting, where you are not the secretary (and even if you are!) getting coffee is not or should not be part of your job description.
How was it possible that the efforts of the 1960s evaporated into the stratosphere? That the women who were not going to accept second class status, were now working in offices and restaurants, and other places...still being asked to get their male boss coffee? How was it possible that we were actually...getting the coffee - keeping a tradition that demeans us, alive?
Bringing our voices to the world
I only know that we are stronger now. We spent time in those 20 years to raise phenomenal, strong, talented daughters and sons. We put our energies into learning why we failed in the early days, and how to turn the corner... in this new, blank slate called the 21st century.
We are looking in the mirror now - deeper into ourselves, and we might be moaning over the wrinkles, crow's feet, or extra pounds we've acquired over the years, but we know how to deal with them now. We're suddenly recognizing that the woman who was always hiding, just beneath the surface, is fantastic!
She's stubborn. Yes, she is. Stubborn enough to keep going when those around her try to make her stop. "She was warned and she persisted." Yes, she did!
She's determined. Yes, she is. Determined to stay the course. To gather all of her friends - male and female - around her, as a new, powerful cloak, with teeth.
She's independent. Yes, she is. She is out there, thank you Mary Hart!, pushing the envelope. She's laughing in the face of conflict. She's shrugging off the negativity being thrown at her from the 'other' side. She's acknowledging those on the 'other' side, who would keep her down, but they are few and far between today and not worth her worry.
It's the Rise of the Wayward woman. The phenomenal woman sitting next to you in the subway. The phenomenal woman who is writing a blog without remorse, shrugging off the guilt of decades, when accusations that women should stay in their place, were loud and angry. The phenomenal woman leading a community meeting, demanding respect and education and healthcare for all - equally.
We are smarter now. We are stronger now. We are... bigger, better- best, now.
Determined. Stubborn. Independent. The Rise of the Wayward Woman has begun. Be forewarned: NO is not in her vocabulary.