The attention given to women during March annoys me. It only takes half a minute to look back and see the future. A month of admiration given to women, then comes April Fool’s Day. Just joking, women are on the front line in the fight for equality and respect and our casualties outweigh the survivors.
A study on the 2017 state of women in corporate America reported that women, especially of color, remain underrepresented, hit low glass ceilings, get less support on the job, and then, 54% of them go home to do most or all the housework.
What are we up against? The human system. It’s rigged for inequalities by its very nature of diversity, yet we keep giving it power. And that power is abused.
Through research, social scientists find that when participants are assigned positions of power, they often willingly take candy from children or give near-lethal shocks to strangers for no reason other than being told to do so.
Professor of Psychology at University of California, Dacher Keltner reported last fall in Harvard Business Review, “These findings from laboratory studies tell us that abuses of power are predictable and recurring.”
I talk about recurring abuses of power in my memoir, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter. I also talk about stumbling upon better strategies to expand equality and respect.
First, I learned how to isolate the enemies.
The enemies aren’t men, they aren’t submissive women, and they aren’t nature or nurture. Whether believed or not, the enemies are inequality and disrespect.
It’s that simple and yet that complex. And to keep it simple, uncomplicates a better plan of action. An example from my memoir.
I grew up learning about Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) and about Christian Science as taught through her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Christian Science is a divine system sourced to help improve the human system.
Eddy developed Christian Science into a religion by founding a church in Boston. Her accomplishments struck powerful chords early 20th century. Individuals were transformed, the church flourished, and then branched out worldwide, as successes far outweighed failures.
Mary Baker Eddy was a household name. Respected more than not.
By the 1980s, however, when I was in my twenties, her storyline backfired.
The backfire can be traced to contemporary controversies about the practices of healthcare and prayer, especially regarding children. Arguably, these sharp challenges are necessary to expose spiritual failures on the part of Eddy’s self-professed followers, but the result is Eddy’s original reputation and her accomplishments plummeting to obscurity.
Another female casualty. It’s tiresome, even if she’s used as a tourist attraction.
But, I uncovered and confronted my own guilt of being pretty proud of myself for admiring and following a woman. Basically, my arrogance pushed the limits of respect into a reverence for Eddy’s personality and her words. I admired the wrong thing. It was disrespect disguised as respect.
I pulled back to figure out a better plan of action: Use the power of admiration correctly.
The power of admiring women can’t go unchecked. What are we admired for? Sex appeal? Stop it now.
Intelligence and skill? Okay, but don’t let your guard down, because the power to approve of feminine intelligence and skill is limited and quickly slips into disapproval with any prodding from envy.
Are women admired for patience and empathy? Fine, but arm yourself, everyone, women and men. Arm yourself with better teachings and better learning, untainted by annoyance.
I just learned something.
Yes, the fight to give power to equality and respect is teachable and learnable. It means not trying so hard to give power to gender or positions in life. It means fighting correctly during Women’s History Month, instead of complaining about what I don’t like.
Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer and student of Christian Science living in upstate New York. Her books are: 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, and, from science & religion to God.