Within a few hours I was on the receiving end of two different women’s postings expressing pain of female martyrdom. The two women are decades in age apart, live on opposite coasts, 1 straight, 1 gay. One who is partnered and raising children, authoring books and reaching millions of ‘me tooers”. The other advocates on behalf of domestic violence survivors, lives modestly and soberly on SSD raising her autistic grandchild. These women have never met. But their stories mirrored in such a way it stunned me. They both spoke of entrenchment from conditioned beliefs that women should be accommodating, quiet, and sacrificial. Women should not be demonstrative, loud, playful, boastful, or be 'full of the themselves' ' (I've often wondered about this directive. If not full of yourself, then who or what?) They both denounced the attitude that women should be martyrs, passive, hold their tongues, play small, and look small (in fact the smaller the better).
What I found remarkable was that on the very same day, from two opposite ends of the country, both spoke passionately on wounding around these generational attitudes that questioned their personal behavior, how it judged their mothering, and how having fun required permission. The pain point was similar. Each called it what it is; restricting ascension, roadblocking joy, feeling the call to pull up those poisonous roots to rise above decay in beliefs systems women are choked by. They were both pining for the same freedom. That landed.
Then something else landed. Perhaps they are more similar that I originally thought. Both were devoted parents. Both employed to end cycles of oppression to women and children, Both using their voices across massive social platforms. Both sharing vulnerabilities about a pervasive, constricting misogynistic attitude. Perhaps they are more alike than not. Perhaps we all share the tug to lie low and play small at times.