The celebration of International Women’s Day has gotten our attention. Here in the States, “A Day without a Woman” has resulted in some school districts closing for the day because so many teachers have requested leave. This has left thousands of children without instruction and perhaps without lunch, or mentoring or supervision or care. I know this isn’t what these women want, but women do success differently.
The Day Without a Women echoes the Day Without Immigrants which asked us to take notice of all the things that are done, performed, staffed, and created by immigrants to our country. That day, they didn’t. This Day Without Women reminds me of the joke:
Dad comes home to dishes in the sink, clothes unfolded, toys scattered about, milk spilled on the floor and junior running naked across the yard. Dad looks at Mom. What happened?!
Mom says, “You always ask me what I did today. Today, I didn’t do it.”
It’s not a joke. And although perhaps it is a less gender-divided issue these days with more stay-at-home dads, more same gender couples, and a bit more sharing of the chores, the issue with women-gone-missing and immigrants-gone-missing is the same: we’re not noticing the work they do and the contributions they have made and are making.
It’s the nature of most women I know, to fly under the radar. They don’t pursue success for their own sake – to be noticed, recognized, celebrated or even promoted – rather they strive for success with the other and for the other, so that improvements can happen, progress can be made, and objectives can be achieved. Don’t get me wrong, women are ALL about achievement, but they don’t waste time waiting around for their applause.
I’m reminded today that we’ve come a long way in addressing our gender stereotypes and our expectations of and for our daughters. When change happens gradually, sometimes we (certainly I) tend not to notice, until something snaps us to attention, like when we sit down to watch an old movie like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with our teen-aged daughter. She is laughing at the animation, completely impatient with the scroll of the credits at the beginning of the movie, cringing at the soundtrack, and appalled at the absence of high def resolution.
But hey, the story, right? What do you remember? … reindeer games, that nose, Clarice’s lashes, the Abominable Snow Monster, bumbles bounce, the Isle of Misfit toys… all of it straight out of today’s newspaper! Poor Rudolph, embarrassed by his unfortunate glowing nose, sets off into the storm of the century to find the place he belongs. Santa informs the mama and papa of Rudolph’s departure and Mrs. Donner declares she’ll go looking for her boy. Donner stops her with, “This is man’s work!” and sets off heroically into the storm.
Wait, what?! Neither my daughter nor I can believe what we just heard… man’s work?
- I LOVE that my daughter was having none of that.
- I can’t believe I never noticed that…in the dozens of times I have watched that movie.
But here’s what really happened, 2017 update: Donner charges out into the storm, blinded by the blizzard, hazarding deadly conditions, to bring his boy home because his prideful heart realizes it was his reluctance to acceptance Rudolph’s “disability” that drove the boy away. Donner’s gonna set things right, man to man. (And of course, then there’s that little matter of Santa’s sleigh that he can’t see to fly through the storm.)
Mothers being mothers, you just know that Mrs. Donner didn’t settle for pining and hoping her men returned home safe and sound. No, she did what women do, she alerted the neighbors, called on friends, and contacted her networks far and wide to be on the lookout for her son. Women do success their own way. And so do men.
Let’s just not lose sight of the success that is happening that is not calling attention to itself. There’s enough self-congratulation going on all around. What women want for this day isn’t accolades, it’s to be given what they’re due.
Inside every woman there is a capable person whose success has contributed to the success of a thousand others. We’re proud of that. Sometimes, we have to withdraw it and ourselves so we’ll be reminded and you’ll notice. Until you notice.
Sometimes we have to remind each other, because it’s tempting to stop at “you’re beautiful.” We are. But it’s not compliments on our outfit, our makeup, our hair or our weight loss that we’re shopping for, it’s an acknowledgement that we’re so much more than all of that.
Olympic Champion Gymnast, Aly Raisman, shared this on Twitter: “I want to apologize to all the women I have called ‘pretty’ before I have called them intelligent or brave. I’m sorry I made it sound as simple as something you are born with is the most you have to be proud of when your spirit has crushed mountains.”
Such a bold and true word from a young, talented woman who has reached the heights in a sport that is judged based largely on beauty and performance! We are mountain crushers. Let’s not settle for “pretty.”
Women do success differently – for each other and with each other – by bringing our colleagues and companions up with us. Cultures across the world confirm this: when women succeed the world stands to gain from their successes.
What’s the secret to a woman’s success? It’s simple. Along the way, someone noticed and said, “Thank you for what you’ve done and for what you’re doing. We could not have done it without you.” Then, on our day off they, in attempting to fill in for us and do what we do in the way we do it, realized how much they meant what they said. So, when we came back to work, school, home or office, they showed us what they meant by acting accordingly.
That would be a very successful day for anyone.