Reason #5: The toxic programming women are fed is very real and needs to stop
Anyone who knows me well knows I can stand on a soapbox for hours talking about how harmful a lot of aspects of patriarchal values are on our culture, society, and way of life. This harm shows up constantly in our everyday lives. It shows up when a woman is called “bossy” or “difficult” when she’s too assertive. It shows up when women are attacked online for looking, dressing, or acting outside our society’s definition of femininity. It shows up when a woman starts doubting herself and her abilities because she doesn’t meet all 20 qualifications for a job or opportunity. And it shows up when women are pitted against each other because we’re led to believe there are only so many spots available to us at the top.
This is programming that starts when we are very, very young and persists throughout our lives. Some of it is so subtle or commonplace that you may not even notice it. For example, at an early age girls join the Brownies and boys join the Cub Scouts. When you dive into the history of these two organizations and the lore of brownies versus wolfpacks, you begin to see that from an early age girls are taught to be quiet, to not make a fuss, to do work for others, and to ask nothing in return. After all, a brownie is a mythical creature that comes out at night to do housework but is never seen or paid. Boys on the other hand are taught the importance of being a part of a pack and to show up as a valued member of the collective.
Working to unravel these toxic values and norms is no easy task. It’s next to impossible to accomplish at a large scale. That is why I chose to start small and stay small (for now). This type of work takes time and takes a lot of intention, consistency, and care. I’ve attended a lot of conferences for women. I’ve listened to the keynote speakers deliver their inspirational talks on stage. I’ve sat in the audience among hundreds of intelligent, engaged women listening intently. And I’ve observed each of us walking away barely getting to know the women who sat beside us and returning to our lives – that toxic programming still remaining. We can do better than that.