Being a Woman is a Funny Thing...

I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.
— Daisy Buchanan

That quote has resonated within me for over a decade. Some days it truly pisses me off to think that any person would believe such a thing. How could you want your daughter to be a fool? To live a life dependent on others leading her way? And then other days, I can understand exactly what the author meant.

Being a woman is a funny thing. There is this mythical balance that you must find in order to be 'accepted' by society. You should be fun, but not wild. You should be sexy, but not slutty. You should be thin, but have curves in all the right places. You should be witty, but only in the right moments. You should have a respectable job, but also maintain a well run household (i.e find the time to cook, clean and Pinterest your ass off). You should be independent, but still make your significant other feel needed. Basically there is the pressure to look like Gisele Bundchen, run a household like June Cleaver, have the patience of Mother Teresa and the intellect of Marie Curie. 

Photo by Kladyk

Photo by Kladyk

Then there is the even more frustrating aspects. You must always have a positive demeanor so that people don't think you're a bitch, or even worse PMSing. You shouldn't curse or talk about sex because people will find you vulgar. You shouldn't drink or smoke too much, that's unladylike. You shouldn't compete too hard or take charge of situations because then you are bossy or pushy. You shouldn't sleep with whomever you choose because then you're fast and loose. You should work just as hard as everyone else, but get paid less without saying anything about it. You should be in charge of your own body and sexual safety, unless of course you've had too much to drink or you are dressed too provocatively.

Hundreds of thousands of women marched this weekend to shake these stigmas and shed light on the issues we face. While I can not speak for them or for any other woman in this world, I can speak for myself and how I feel.

I want to be recognized for my tenacity and grit. I want to be seen for my kindness, my humbleness and my intelligence. I want my hard work to be viewed and valued in the same scale as my peers. I want to earn things based on my merit. I want my body observed with care and appreciation -- not scrutinized, degraded or used. I want people to call me beautiful based on my soul, not because of my perky breasts, long legs or blonde hair. I want to impress you with my mind and my thoughts, not with the dress that I am wearing. I want to be observed as having great strength without allowing the world to make me hard. I want people to bear witness to the fact that while I am a force to be reckoned with I am also the most gentle of all creatures. I want to be acknowledged for my wit and my character without a comparison. I want to be applauded for the leadership skills I exhibit. I want to be honored for my tireless work ethic and compensated appropriately for it as well. I want the strength of my mind, body and heart to amaze others. But most of all I want to be regarded in the highest respects based upon who I am as an individual.

Women are not asking to be placed on a pedestal. We are asking to be seen.

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by women that empower one another. I am also the daughter of a woman whose quiet compassion, strong demeanor and powerful intellect has taught me more than any textbook could. But to my greatest advantage is the fact that I had a father who cherished those things in his wife and saw the importance of instilling those qualities in his daughter. Time and time again he challenged me in our discussions to think for myself, to speak my mind. My mother, on the other hand, taught me how to observe without always reacting. A skill that is more powerful than I could have imagined. I was privy to having both strong male and female role models that believed in, encouraged and showed me how to become a woman worth something.  Both influences are invaluable to me because while I love being a woman, I am fully aware of all that man contributes.

I can see the world for what it is and all the complexity it possesses. I note that we have made great strides and hope we maintain the progress. I am not foolish enough to believe that change will always benefit everyone involved but I am wise enough to know that it is imminent. Change is always on the horizon. Just make sure it's the kind you want to rise. 

Mackenzie Smith is the Assistant Director and Pre K teacher in western Shawnee. Born and raised in Mission, Ks she is a true Kansas City girl. If she is not at home curled up with a book you can find her out and about amongst friends sharing appetizers, cocktails and stories! She would love to devote more time to writing and more creative projects in the future. 

Mackenzie Smith is the Assistant Director and Pre K teacher in western Shawnee. Born and raised in Mission, Ks she is a true Kansas City girl. If she is not at home curled up with a book you can find her out and about amongst friends sharing appetizers, cocktails and stories! She would love to devote more time to writing and more creative projects in the future.