Women are amazing. Men are pretty ok, but women are amazing.
It starts around puberty when women start bleeding once a month and continue for several decades until menopause, with the occasional interlude depending on weight, pregnancy or whichever contraceptive she’s using. If she’s lucky enough to have access contraceptive that is, because women also have to contend with the ever present risk of getting pregnant through sex. Although choosing not to have children can also be considered a social faux pas. They are, on average, smaller and less muscular than men, but they have strength that goes beyond the physical.
Women’s tear ducts are smaller than men’s, which is one of the reasons we may be seen to cry more; showing emotion is expected of women and also what can hold us back. But we soldier on. We can be soldiers now, due to the courage and determination of women who refused to conform to expectations.
My Mum is one of those women who refused to conform. She went to a top tier university in the 60s, kept her maiden name in the 70s and went back to work after only a few months in the 80s, earning her the scorn of an angry woman in a shop at one point. Her and my Dad’s first mortgage was from her salary, as he was still a student, but he still had to come in to sign the paperwork on her behalf. She loves her sport and takes joy in shorter queues for the ladies at cricket and football matches.
A few weeks ago one of my Mum’s best friends died suddenly. His wife asked people to write their memories of him and Mum shared hers with me. She writes beautifully; I enjoyed getting to know him again through her words. I also got to know her: some of the things she’d done in her career and in her life, which she hadn’t told me before. As her daughter I am very selfish with her time, which means I know less about her than I should.
I’ve always been encouraged by my Mum but only in the last few years have I realised how much she’s inspired me.
I think it’s brilliant that we have International Women’s Day. Men can have one too, if they want, but I think we need it more. Being a woman isn’t easy and it’s the support and inspiration of other women that makes it so worthwhile.
Thank you, Mum for your support and inspiration. Happy International Women’s Day!