I was taught to admire strong women from the day I was born. I lived in the same city Susan B. Anthony chose to live in. I’ve been heavily educated in the Women’s Rights Movement, been to Seneca Falls, NY, and done three different school projects on Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
I am a strong woman.
I am a feminist.
I am a believer in equality.
Growing up, I was encouraged to follow in the footsteps of the role models history has given us. I believe that being a strong woman is something to be admired, be proud of and aspire to. Every day I continue working and striving towards those goals. However, as I’ve gotten older, worked my way through college and law school, as well as unemployment, I have noticed that women are not making the strides in society I had hoped they would be. Society feels stagnant.
We still live in a world where people feel the need to ask the question, “Can women be funny?” We still live in a world where it’s news when female athletes outnumbered their male counterparts at the summer Olympics. We still live in a world where access to birth control and reproductive health centers are discussed every day by old men in Congress. We still live in a world where these same men feel like they can and should make laws to regulate what we can do to our own bodies. We still live in a world where the United States has not yet had a female leader.
My law school was the first to admit women, over a hundred years ago. In fact, it was founded specifically to educate women. Sandra Day O’Connor came and spoke during the Centennial celebration about how she broke through the glass ceiling to become the first woman on the Supreme Court. Her story was empowering and beautiful and enlightening to everyone sitting in the audience. She did break through that glass ceiling, so many women did, but there are still men who want to patch it back up.
It’s disheartening on many levels. Why is that? Is it us, as women? Is it society holding us back? Is it the traditional scheme of motherhood? I know so many smart, hardworking women, who feel like they have to split their time between work and motherhood. It’s just how we’re wired. We WANT to be with our kids and we feel badly when we’re not. But, we also WANT to be taken seriously in the workplace. Men can more easily split the difference between home-selves and work-selves. Women have a much harder time with it.
Gender disparity is never more prevalent than it is in the world of politics and law making. There is a very noticeable annoyance and displeasure with strong, outspoken women. I know many, MANY, men (and women) who dislike Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, etc. Not for their politics, but because they are strong women who speak their minds. They are women who want to make a change in this country. They are women who want to change the discourse, the conversation we as a nation are having. I’ve even asked a few to explain why they don’t like these women. There is no straight answer. Sure, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and sure, some people just rub you the wrong way. But, I find that with these specific types of women, the answers are the same in that some people are intimidated by outspoken women who know what they want.
How can we keep teaching our daughters and sisters to be strong, independent, outspoken women if we have such a hard time as a society overall accepting them? I know I’m not alone in how I feel and there are many women both young and old (and some men, too) who want to stand up and change the conversation, but it feels like we’ve been having this conversation forever. Look how long it took women to get the vote. Look at how women still don’t get equal pay for the same jobs as their male counterparts.
I’m not sure how we can change society, but I know if we stick together and keep fighting the good fight, maybe one day it will. Maybe with each new session of Congress we will see more and more women with seats. Maybe, someday soon, we will see a woman run for President and get elected. Maybe we will see the day where we can stop having these conversations. But, until then, I will keep talking.
Shannon Robb is a wannabe writer/blogger/know it all extraordinaire. She is semi proficient in legalese, kinda boss at trivia and loves napping, reading and watching entirely too much tv. Shannon is actively trying not to become a real life Liz Lemon (but wouldn’t mind being Tina Fey). You can check her out on Twitter or Tumblr.