Women’s history is shaped by powerful relationships
Mar 4, 2021
It’s Women’s History Month. You’ve seen it blasted around social media and celebrated by your favorite brands. And when we talked at P&G about how best to celebrate Women’s History Month as a female-owned and operated company that works with many female leaders and CEOs — and many organizations that serve and uplift women — I knew it was important for me to say something and set the stage for our dialogues this month.
But I’ll be damned if I knew what to say that wouldn’t just be more noise. Y’all don’t need me to tell you about key historical figures who happen to be female and, thus, overlooked for decades. I’ll just get ragey AF if I go into the daily microaggressions and injustices we face. And we sure as shit know many white women need to get their fucking lives together when it comes to intersectionality in feminism and life, but is a blog post actually going to effect that change? Let’s do the fucking work first, eh?
So that left me wondering: What am I able to bring to the Women’s History Month conversation? <insert shrug emoji that may or may not signify I’m out of touch with Gen Z>
Frozen with insecurity and indecision, I turned to crowdsourcing, and the ideas were incredible: Women solving problems and making history today. Swearing and double standards. Trusting yourself. Acceptance that there’s no right way. Women in literary fiction and comics. Female authors and illustrators. Female inventors. The cosmetics industry, entrepreneurship and beauty standards. Mentorship. Allyship. White feminism. Trans women and women of color. What our mothers had to put up with. Imposter syndrome. Systemic devaluation of women’s contributions. COVID-19’s impact on women in the workforce. The exclusion of women from history books. The world we want to create.
There’s so much — still — we as women have to talk about, celebrate, change and challenge.
And then there was one snarky AF thread about screaming into the void and eating pizza and catching bats.
You may recognize the tone of that from your own conversations with your friends, though the jokes may be different and the frustrations may vary. But over the past 12 months, as I hold back tears thinking about the clusterfuckery that has been the fear and isolation and burden so many women have felt, I can’t help but marvel at the power of female relationships and what they bring to our lives and our world.
My “I’m going to scream if ...” Facebook moms group chat. My college girls who support one another the way only people who’ve known each other for 20-plus years can. My coworkers who show up every day to support not only our clients but each other. My DivaBoss MasterMind CEOs who get what it’s like to be women in positions of power. My Counselors Academy peers who show me what it means to lead. My mother-in-law. My mom.
There is such power in relationships, and the bonds we women forge have been strengthened this past year in a way I never could have predicted. Much of women’s history is built on women coming together to effect change — from shine theory to Stonewall, intersectionality to #metoo and the squad. Since our last Women’s History Month, there have been some monumental changes in our world, and many female history-makers are leading the way.
And then there have been the micro-changes. The postcards and porch drop-offs. The therapy referrals. The empathy. The reassurances we’re not alone in a world that feels so fucking lonely for so many women. The screaming into the void. The digital defense against the racist grandpa on Facebook/mansplainer on Instagram/misogynist on Twitter. The offers of pizza. The reminders to drink water and go to bed. The client text threads about momming and leading. The Voxer voice memos that make you laugh out loud and cry with relief. The offers of food and medicine after a positive coronavirus diagnosis. The Insta stories shared. The notes simply signed, Your Bestie. The check-ins. The I’m-so-sorry-I-haven’t-had-the-energy-to-check-ins. The layoffs and job search support. The pre-interview pep talks. The “you got the job!” sobs. The first time seeing your mom during the pandemic, and supporting those who haven’t been able to yet. The lifting up of those who’ve lost theirs, or for whom the relationship is toxic. The sitting quietly on the phone when there’s nothing else to be done. The little moments squeezed in amidst history-in-the-making. The micro-communities formed and strengthened. Some meant to change the world. Some meant to simply help make the world more bearable.
Will croissant pizza make history? Maybe not. Will text threads win a Pulitzer? Definitely not. But have the same bonds of shared experience that brought women together for centuries forever shift generations of today’s female relationships? I think so.
Few women made history alone. So as we celebrate that history, I can’t help but think of the importance and impact of the relationships behind it. Women may have to fight like hell for it, but we have the power to shape our communities, our workplaces, our families and ourselves. For many women, the disparities are greater, the fight harder, the injustice more bitter and deadly. For other women, with privilege comes a responsibility to educate oneself and invest in learning to become a responsible ally, the responsibility to change, grow, accept feedback and evolve.
Women have power. And one of the greatest powers we have is to come together to shape history and to shape our own corners of the world. What individual histories will we leave behind? How will we use our power?