I'm always disappointed to hear women say - I don't have any female friends. While they may have totally valid reasons, my favourite people in the world are the beautiful and courageous women in my circle. I am fortunate to have two fantastic sisters who are the best parts of me, and a number of wonderful female friends, colleagues and mentors who inspire me, make me laugh, hold me accountable and keep me grounded while encouraging me to be my best self. They are near and far (some really far...) And I would not give up those friendships for anything.
Now - people are people. I won't question those who say that they don't have female friends because women are catty (or our other favourite B word) - they may very well have encountered many women like that - I have encountered my share of unpleasant people both male and female. But imagine my surprise to learn a few months ago that time spent with women is a high indicator of well being for both men and women. What does that mean - it means simply put that we women need other women in unique ways. We need to ensure that we find supportive female friends - and they are out there - believe me I know.
As for the "cattiness"? I see it sometimes even in women I love. And they definitely see it in me half the time! (90% of the time) Most of the women I know have a lot on their plate - mother's, wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters, friends - each of these carry their own responsibilities. Throw in employees and business owners in the mix as well as volunteers. I am sure every woman you know falls into at least one of those categories, and some more than one. We get frustrated, overwhelmed, short tempered. All of us. And so do men. Why am I mentioning this? Because perhaps that woman that you thought was stand-off-ish didn’t actually see you because she had something critical on her mind. Because her baby was sick and she was rushing home to meet her childcare… Because she was rushing to visit a friend in hospital… Because she had to pitch a client… Or run a board meeting... Or give a keynote address… Or a million other reasons… Or perhaps she was just catty! I just think we need to be careful about painting all women with the same brush especially if doing so robs us from the experience of connecting with quality women and having them in our circle.
The thing that concerns me about this view, is that it is a view I have heard from women about women. Over the last few weeks, I have had the occasion to listen and discuss much about gender issues and there are many! The one that worries me the most however, is the opinion that we as women often have of ourselves and each other. I think that it is important that we begin to realize the value we hold as women – not only in society but towards one another. If we begin to believe that we can have successful, supportive, mutually beneficial relationships with each other in work, friendships and family, then this is a step in the right direction towards addressing some of the cultural norms that feed gender inequality. We need to find a way to stand in solidarity in order to advocate for those changes that we want. If we really believed this, and really valued ourselves and each other, really stood alongside one another in a more united fashion, really upheld one another – would that change how we interacted with our families, our work colleagues, in our organizations and social circles? I am not trying to suggest that this is the only problem, but I think that this is one small step that most of us can take today – really consider how we view other women, and see how we can be supportive of one another. Before we make a generalization about another woman or women – really look to see her – you may have more in common than you think.
So today on International Women’s Day, let us remember that women are a valuable addition to everyone’s lives, and let us show kindness to the women around us – whether they be friends or family, work colleagues, clients, bosses – however we encounter them! Let us give a smile and a kind word. Let us bring out the best in those women we interact with. Personally I have found that cheesecake brings out the best in many women, and I provide it as much as possible! Of course, I have a number of other dairy free (and slightly more healthy) tricks up my sleeve too. (But I digress)… show kindness and compassion to the women around you. And be a good friend to yourself! Show yourself some compassion! Check your boundaries. Nourish yourself. And get yourself some good, positive, uplifting females in your circle. Let them keep you honest and accountable, and have fun with them!
And to my male readers – you can celebrate International Women’s Day too! And if you are one of the men who is around me and you want to celebrate me – I like Moscato.
Big love from a small island!
Ps the photo above is a tiny glimpse into my life and a few of the wonderful women who surround me. I couldn't showcase all of them but I love you all and appreciate you - and wish you Happy International Women's day!