“In the end we are all separate: our stories, no matter how similar, come to a fork and diverge. We are drawn to each other because of our similarities, but it is our differences we must learn to respect”
It would be forgiven if over the last 10 months my attitude towards men had altered and I had become resentful of them; disparaging them for their lack of respect and tarring them all with the same brush. When a man hurts us we are all too eager to put him down, to criticise & chastise him and with the help of our friends berate him for his behaviour. But what about the way we as women behave toward each other?
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by emotionally strong, independent women who have faced their own struggles & conquered them; women who highlight to the world that the body is merely the shell of the person inside. As we grow older, we become pass-remarkable, commenting on the way the women around us look, sharing gossip we have heard about them or secretly bitching behind their back. How can we, as women who do this, honestly chastise a man for his lack of respect, when we ourselves are showing it daily?!
I have felt the sideward glances of the girls who think they know my story; heard the mutterings & seen the sympathetic head tilts. Over my 31 years I have definitely fed the gossips, I have had dramas in my life that some can only imagine but through it all I have kept my head held high and now I can say with confidence and certainty that people’s opinions of me, matter very little. I am who I am; those who love me; always will and those that don’t; don’t matter.
This valuable lesson was lovingly taught to me by my mother; a woman who I truly love and respect, not only because she selflessly raised me but because as I have grown older she has become a true friend. When I hear people speak of her, it is always in a positive manner, they talk of her strength, her unconditional friendship and the love she exudes. She never speaks negatively of any other woman, if she hears a critical remark passed, her simple but powerful response is “yes, but maybe she’s happy”. My mum never fails to see the good in other women, she sees the light that shines from within them and doesn’t allow a woman’s weight, fashion-sense or mistakes extinguish that. From her own struggles she has drawn strength and I am very lucky to say that she has shown me how to do the same.
So ladies here’s what I say to you: “If we wish for men to treat us with the respect we deserve, then we must set the precedent. We must stop passing negative comments on the women that surround us and focus instead on their strengths. You may not like her skirt, you may think her hairstyle out-dated or her behaviour irrational, but who are we to judge? None of us know the struggles another woman faces on a daily basis, the insecurities she harbours or the personal goals she aims to achieve, but she like us is a woman and for that reason alone she deserves our respect. I as a woman have fallen but I have risen, I have made mistakes, I live, I learn, I’ve been hurt but I’m alive. I’m not perfect but I’m thankful and because of this I for one will always recognise the beauty of womanhood and respect those women like you, like me, who face life with vigour on a daily basis.”