Leaning In

If you’ve been around me in the past 12 months, the odds are good you’ve heard at least a little earful of what I thought about the precarious balance of juggling work and motherhood and how systematically unfair and dysfunctional it all was.

CS is fond of saying that he married a closet Republican and feminist. I’ll save the political ideology for another day. But the feminist part? That one really confounds me. I have never in my life considered myself a feminist. I don’t expect things to be done for me simply because of my gender. However, as a mom, I’ve seen first hand how unfair life is for us women, primarily as the female head of household.

So with these inequities in mind, I’ve been pushing harder and harder the idea that things aren’t right in the world and we need to fix it.

Sheryl Sandberg’s whole “Lean In” movement is great because it started the dialogue. But it is woefully inadequate and simplistic. I’ve been looking for ways to figure out what exactly I can do to propel myself forward professionally. So when this Watermark Conference came up, I jumped at the chance to explore.

And throughout the conference, I couldn’t help but think “Yes! Yes! Yes!” as I heard successful woman after woman on the panels relate their stories of how they had to be “man”-like but not too “manly”, a feminist without losing their “femininity”, afraid of being too pushy or too confrontational and not enough of a team player. I mean, come on. It’s 2016 and we still have to worry about coming off too masculine to our coworkers?

I grew up with my mom telling me that I shouldn’t be too successful, lest it emasculate the man. And, you know what? It’s my bad for actually retaining some of that belief. I’ve gone to work toning myself down, from the way I dress to the way I interact, because I didn’t want to come off too strongly.  I dress “older” and more “conservatively” at work because I don’t want to be judged on the way I look. But you know what? Eff that noise. When has a man ever had to consider these things? I’m not a person to go gently into the night. But I’ve been too deferential for far too long. And if someone like me who is still pretty outspoken, finds it this difficult to overcome societal norms, I can only imagine how much harder it is for others more timid.

More and more, I am thankful that I only have sons to raise. When I think about a girl growing up in this world, and the obstacles they face? It’s just so much easier being a boy and I thank God I don’t have to worry about these things.

My thoughts on being a mother in this unequal world is a post for another day.  (One rant at a time!) But the title of this NYT piece says it all: The Motherhood Penalty vs the Fatherhood Bonus Seriously, it’s one big F YOU to moms in the workplace.

I end it here with something I heard at the conference. “To strong women, let us know them, let us raise them, let us BE them.” 

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