What are we Women Trying to Prove?
Women have never had it better. Statistically we have never had so much equality, opportunity or freedom. Unfortunately there’s still a long way to go – ask the girls of Yemen who are being married off from as young as eight years old, or the Saudi women unable to leave the house without a male family member or even the women closer to home with male/female 19.6% salary differences for doing the exact same job – but for most of us, we CAN have it all.
Unfortunately that also means we have to do it all.
I’m pretty certain that no Suffragette in her relentless fight for our equality had ever envisaged that one hundred years in the future today’s women would be killing themselves not for female emancipation but because of our own societal pressures and idealised versions of everything we are able to be. Or more to the point, everything we think we are supposed to be.
And who is putting that kind of pressure on ourselves? Oh, that will be us, the women.
Let’s go back seventy years. Not that long ago women were expected to look beautiful, have a family and run a home. Have you ever done your make up nicely, styled your hair, cleaned the house top to bottom, looked after the kids and had a hot meal on the table by 6pm? It takes all day. That in itself is a full time job. Maybe these women were happy and took pride in their limited female role, or maybe they did it because they had no choice and were dreaming of a more mentally challenging life, but for any person doing all of that all day every day it was, and still is, more than enough.
But now? Now we are allowed much more, in fact we are allowed whatever we want. Now we can also have good jobs, great social lives, the opportunity to educate ourselves and the freedom to look exactly as we please.
We can have everything that a man can have, yet we are still living by our own standards of what it means to be a woman. So we are doing it all and attempting to do it all at 100%. We want it all and we want to do it all perfectly, any less would be proving to others that we don’t deserve it all. That having it all isn’t possible. That we have bitten off more than we can chew.
In today’s age we don’t just need to be perfect mothers and wives and daughters – but perfect women. In thanks to those that died before us for our liberty, and to not let the side down, we strive to be women that can truly satisfy every aspect of ourselves and do so effortlessly…and publicly.
The internet – making life both easier and more difficult for women everywhere.
Little did the women of yesteryear know that us women would eventually be taking part in one big subconscious competition with each other. No, it’s no longer the men we are rallying against as women united against the patriarchy, we are actually competing against one another. Even if we don’t realise it.
Instead of feeling accomplished and thankful for the things we are able to do with our lives now, we are feeling lacking, insecure and like failures. Why? Because we are failing at our attempts of perfection in every aspect of our lives while everyone else seems to have their shit together. And how do we know everyone is better at being a woman than us?
Social media – that instant window into everyone’s perfect lives.
If you were to look at my Facebook or Instagram page you would see perfection. You would see my two beautiful children in pretty clothes always smiling. You would see my husband and I happy, really happy, hand in hand or arm in arm, kids in laps and smiles on our face. You would see my posts with hashtags proclaiming ILoveMyJob and HappyDays. You would enjoy live feeds of me at great events and colour-managed selfies of me looking ten years younger. My own personal digital footprint, immortalised forever in its filtered perfection, my shiny shiny life. Look at me, I’m a beautiful happy person with a beautiful happy family living in a beautiful place doing so many many wonderful things.
So is my life really that perfect? Like fuck it is!
So why do I do it? Why do we all do it? What is it about social media that has made us so desperate to not only share every second of our lives with people that have hardly even touched our lives, but to do it in such a smug way?
Perfection, that’s what. And our desperate need to attain it. We do it because when we do succeed in being that person that we want to be, that person that we strive to be and want others to see us being, we document it. I call it gratitude, I tell myself that I share these fleeting snapshots of my life’s highlight reel because I want to remember the good times, but maybe it’s more than that. Maybe I do it to prove to myself that I can be that woman I want to be…and if I keep telling the world that that’s me, then maybe I will get there one day.
So today I say let’s give up on being perfect at everything and let’s do our best at a few things at a time. Today I went to the supermarket, did some banking, four hours of client work, spoke to my publishers, got some writing finished (this), the usual kiddy school run and running around and three loads of washing – then tonight I have a work seminar. Kids, home and work is done. So what am I stressing about? The fact I have crap hair, no make up on and I haven’t vacuumed the floors!
Note to self (and you) – no one gives a toss. No one cares if you haven’t had a shower yet today or you missed your work deadline by a day, because a) they believe you are who you say you are (your very own personalised branded social media self) and b) they are too busy presuming you have your shit together when they don’t.
My real friends don’t care that my floors aren’t clean, my clients don’t know that I will have to catch up on their work at midnight because I ran out of time today and my husband is just happy as long as I’m smiling.
So let’s choose HAPPY over PERFECT.
What is perfection anyway, if it isn’t a totally subjective restraint of our own making? Didn’t women die so that we would be liberated from external constraints? So why impose new ones on ourselves?
Celebrate your freedom to be who you want whenever you want and how, and let go of your own self-made ideals as to what it means to be the ideal woman.
Make sure your life is perfect for you and you can’t go wrong. It’s perfectly okay to not do everything absolutely perfectly every time (and as long as you don’t post it all over Facebook no one ever has to know).