International Women’s Day Thoughts From A 40-Something

I’ve been struggling writing this blog over the last few weeks thinking ‘What do I want to say about International Women’s Day?’. What I want to do is celebrate this day. I want to inspire others and share something profound. I don’t know that this will do any of those things, but here are the thoughts that have tumbled out of my head and onto this page.

International Women’s Day is something I look forward to every year. It’s a time to shine a spotlight on women, their achievements, women’s issues and above all, to celebrate women. While the theme of International Women’s Day 2024 is Inspire Inclusion, I want to steer my own conversation to the use of language and perception of women.

I polled friends and followers on my socials about what IWD means to them and a lot of women said they feel disconnected from it. Like it doesn’t apply to them or it’s just become a sort of second Mother’s Day. What can we do to reconnect with the importance of this day?

What I keep coming back to are these scars I carry around with me. These wounds that I’ve healed but always remain a silvery line on the surface of my consciousness. I think about them before I contribute to a conversation, before I offer an opinion, before I draw any attention to myself. These are words that have haunted me in my personal and professional life as an adult woman: 

Aggressive. Bossy. Emasculating. Intimidating.

Am I aggressive? 
Am I bossy?
Am I emasculating? 
Am I intimidating?

Or are these labels the product of a society that’s been taught that a strong woman who leads or takes a stand is ultimately ‘a bitch’?

Words brought forward by other women are:

High strung 
And a LOT of women brought intimidating forward.

There have been times in my life where I thought “If I am these things, maybe I’m unloveable. Maybe I’m doomed to never have a healthy, happy and supportive relationship or be a good leader…” It makes me wonder how many other women are out there thinking that very thing now.

Truthfully, I’m sure I have been all of those things at some point or another. As I was trying to figure myself out in my teens and young adulthood, I had to learn how to voice my opinion through effective communication which was, admittedly, a hard transition. I struggled to not be the loudest voice in the room or the strongest opinion because I thought I had to be to be heard or valued.

I’m sure I’ve also been referred to as a bitch in some scenarios which, I think most women can agree, is the go-to term when someone doesn’t agree with a woman. I’ve often been referred to as a ‘type A’ personality. I’m not afraid to speak up or take charge and as such, have been labeled with the words I listed above. I’ve also owned my own house, and made more money than my partners. I’ve been told to be smaller both figuratively and literally.

Spoiler alert – making myself smaller didn’t help the relationship in the end. Ever.

Have I been intimidated by other powerful women in the room? Absolutely, but I learned that was about my own insecurities. Personally, I think a lot of those feelings are about finding the line between being self assured and confident instead of aggressive and bossy. 

Powerful women inspire me.
They motivate me.
They fuel my drive. 

What do I want from International Women’s Day? I want the generations of girls coming after us to see what they can be. I want them to have fewer barriers but understand the history of what came before them, and the struggles women have endured to get where we are today. I want them to appreciate it wasn’t always like this and that not every little girl is fortunate enough to grow up being told she can do or be anything she wants to be. 

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of inspiring women in my life. From my mother and sister, to close friends, coworkers and other business women where I live. I don’t have kids of my own but I have 6 nieces, and the world they’re going to grow up in is very top of mind for me on a regular basis. But so is them understanding where we are now, what came before us and where we still need to go. 

So here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there. This day is for you no matter what. 

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