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 who you are. You can leave out some parts because some parts are too personal or too precious to share. But, for the most part, you need to cry a little, laugh a lot, get angry, then be joyous, because the telling of your story is just the beginning of your journey and the journey you will take your readers on.
Yes, I want you to write a book.
In a keynote given at the Women in the Pet Industry Network, back in 2015, I focused on the power of women today 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 clinging fibers that have held us back all these years are nothing but dust.
As a little reminder, Goody Two Shoes is a fictional character. (from Wikipedia - the italics are my words)
The fable tells of Goody Two-Shoes, the nickname of a poor orphan girl named Margery Meanwell, who goes through life with only one shoe. When a rich gentleman gives her a complete pair, she is so happy that she tells everyone that she has "two shoes". Later, Margery becomes a teacher and marries a rich widower. This serves as proof that her virtue has been rewarded and her wealth earned, <because she was knocked down and kicked and had to be rescued by someone else> a popular theme in children's literature of the era.
Yes, it was a popular theme in children's literature of the era. For girls. To make them behave. To strive to marry a rich man. Because life would be so fine if she just married a rich man. We cannot continue to allow this theme of how women should behave, how we need a rich man to rescue us, how we mustn't be loud or show our intelligence, to continue into this century.
Is it happening? Can we do it?
This is not new. Those of us who live under 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!" <although no one really did> I'm proud of all the times I stood up for myself. But I also see our childish belief that we could achieve results by going it alone. 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! But we didn't come together as a community, the way women are today.
There we were, in 1980, 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. They created a bond to get it done!
The joke was on us, as life for most working women was truly 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, pats on the back, and numerous requests for coffee, because, after all, that's what women did best - they made coffee and served it to their boss. I served a bit of coffee in my day. I was repeatedly passed over for promotion. I went to one boss, after two years of exemplary performance, asked for a raise and he sneered at me, "You think you deserve a raise because you're pretty?"
I was dumbfounded and had no reply. Pretty had nothing to do with my work!
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...still being asked to get their male boss coffee? How was it possible that we were actually...making and delivering the coffee - keeping a tradition that demeans us, alive?
Bringing our voices to the world
I only know that we are stronger now. Over the last 30 - 40 years, we raised 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 full of color and vibrancy.
She's independent. Yes, she is. She is out there moving mountains and breaking rocks. She's laughing in the face of conflict. She's shrugging off the negativity being thrown at her from the 'other' side.
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: she may even ask you to bring her coffee and she's certainly going to write about you in her book.