Learn from Smart Women

Learn from bSmart Members

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that we live in a society where self-identified women are constantly bombarded with messages explaining how we should dress, look, eat, exercise, act, speak, and function, in public.  Sure, this societal pressure may not be as rigid and unforgiving as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries, when women had strict social contracts and behavioral rules to follow, but the remnants of those accepted notions are still very present in our society today.  With that said, it's unfortunately still normal and expected for modern women to feel pressured by society’s exceptionally high, unattainable, often marginalizing (especially towards minorities), and unfair standards.

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The original girl squad: Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha

Despite the many admirable and helpful efforts of activists, media moguls, political leaders, educators, and entrepreneurs to equalize the gender playing field for all women, these societal pressures still leave a lot of room for improvement and progress.  Yes, there can be new policies introduced that strive for gender equality and for creating safer, more empowering spaces for women and girls to thrive, live, and succeed.  Yes, there can be more articles written that attempt to mobilize readers and community members to advocate for feminist ideals. And yes, there can be more support for activist efforts and rallies fighting to bring an end to gender-based discrimination, anti-feminist and discriminatory policies, sexual assault and domestic violence, and unprogressive views on gender, the role of women in society, and sexuality.  But what we also need is something simple— something each of us can do right now.

What we need are strong female friendships that serve to encourage and empower one another as women.  We women need a squad.  We need to have deep, established, and consistent connections to self-identified women who understand our journeys through society, no matter how different our paths may be.  We need women who are united by our identity development and social identities as seen by society.  We need a group of diverse individuals who can do more than just sympathize with our challenges and frustrations.

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Women need to band together, not divide.  We need more squads, not more foes.

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The female friends I’ve developed over the years (most of whom are some of my best friends in the world) express more than just sympathy towards me when I am met with workplace challenges and ignorance regarding gender identity.  They are the first people to actively and attentively listen to me and understand my concerns.  They express authentic empathy and compassion, and will share their personal experiences with similar situations to remind me that I’m not alone.

In a more positive sense, my female squad is also the first to genuinely encourage and congratulate me when I get a new job, have a piece of my writing published, and receive a leadership position I ran for.  The strong and dependable bonds I have with my female friends makes me feel valued, heard, and appreciated - especially in the moments where I feel most vulnerable or professionally insecure. They are always the ones who encourage me to be my most authentic self and let my freak flag fly, no mater what.  If I call one of them in a stressed frenzy about my job or future, they will push everything aside to talk to me and provide advice. And it is always the best advice - it’s like having a group of sisters and moms in one.

Returning the favor of providing advice, listening no matter what, respecting and appreciating, and elevating the talents of my female friends comes naturally to me.  Listening to their concerns or accomplishments on the phone is my pleasure, never my burden. Our friendships are full of gratuity, selflessness, and thankfulness. Our friendships make me believe in myself and my ability everyday, and remind me that us women need to band together, not divide.

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Villainizing one another will not help us achieve gender equality and societal progress.

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We don’t need more women turning against each other in the workplace as they fight to climb the ladder to shatter the glass ceiling.  We don’t need more women throwing divisive and harmful language around like b*tch, c*nt, hoe, and whore.  Engaging in hurtful dialogues like that brings us many steps back, and fails to correct the societal beliefs and gendered stereotypes of women that serve to bring us down and make us look inferior.  Villainizing one another will not help us achieve gender equality and societal progress.  Using negative gendered language to describe women you don’t like harms our cause and role in society.  It doesn’t help us.  We need more squads, not more foes.

Perhaps it’s time you create a partnership with women and colleagues you’ve competed with or befriend women you thought weren’t on your side.  Find your squad, support your squad, and let them empower you. 

 

Comments (2)

  1. Nina A. Godridge

Truly well said. As friends we all need to support one another. I like to think of my friends as 90's sitcom characters in how support and stand up for one another.

 

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