Betty Friedan would be pleased.
As you may remember, Friedan was a feminist who ignited the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s with her book, The Feminine Mystique. As I think of the strides of women today, I can’t help but reflect on a time when women weren’t allowed to purchase a car unless her father or brother signed on the dotted line for the vehicle. A time when women completed Census forms and wrote “housewife” next to the occupation question. While there is certainly nothing wrong with or demeaning about being a housewife, it is refreshing to see how far we’ve come.
I reflected on the strides of women earlier this week during a lunch with three other women. As we sat and talked about current events and were updated on each other’s personal and professional lives, the Anthony Weiner controversy also became a topic of discussion.
Our discussion wasn’t the stereotypical male-bashing that most would assume of a group of women. Instead we noted how unfortunate the situation is for Weiner’s wife, we commented on the severity of the issue and during the relatively brief amount of time we dedicated to the topic, we even managed to squeeze in a quick joke. As the Weiner-portion of our conversation ended, it was still on my mind. As I reflected on Weiner’s poor lack of judgment, I wondered to myself if a woman in a similar position would take such a risk.
My answer to myself was quick and direct: no.
I don’t think women with the same credentials as Weiner would do something that is of such poor character and professionally detrimental. I didn’t come to this conclusion because I think women are in some way superior to men, smarter or even less likely to text inappropriate images. I came to this conclusion because I believe women have had to fight so many battles, overcome tremendous obstacles and be subjected to various forms of discrimination to get to their positions of leadership that women wouldn’t risk their professional acclaim for something so unnecessary.
Perhaps Miami columnist Leonard Pitts said it best this week.
“We must conclude that women are possessed of something rare among men. It is called a brain. Evidently that organ tells them that when your private life is public record, when you live in a news cycle that is all intrusive, all the time, it might be wise to keep that other organ zipped. The ability to weigh one’s options and make the right call is the basis of leadership.”
So not only would Betty Friedan be pleased that women are running companies, serving in the military, leading entire countries, protecting national security and leading households, she would probably also be pleased that we at least seem to have a higher level of discernment than our male counterparts.
In all seriousness, I do not believe Friedan or modern-day feminists want women to be men – they just want us to have a seat at the table. They want us to have options and opportunities.
As my lunch meeting ended and me and the three women I dined with made our way to the elevators, I couldn’t help but be pleased with each of our individual accomplishments – we were all living proof of opportunities that were once denied to women: heading businesses/organizations. I felt such a tremendous feeling of pride – not in a boastful way, but in a humble manner. As I looked at each of the three women who possessed their own type of inner and outer beauty, I said a quick prayer of thanks and protection. My prayer of thanks was for the opportunity bestowed upon each of us and the prayer of protection was just that: protection from the challenges each of us faces on a day-to-day basis as well as protection from lures of this ever-tempting world.
You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at Shannonw@indyrecorder.com.