Beyond Our Fractured Feminism

We’ve come a long way since Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 1848 Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. Yet in the long view of human evolution and development, women’s liberties appear on the scene in a New York minute. For most of existence, women were protected by men. As a result, they were property of men, silenced by men, and worse.

we_can_do_itIn the United States, women were granted the simple right to vote less than 100 years ago (here’s a great timeline of women’s rights from the National Women’s History Project). Birth control became widely available in the 60’s. Title IX provided equality of education in the 70’s. While in Switzerland, women weren’t able to vote until 1980! And today, in many parts of the world, women continue to be abused and pushed aside.

In truth, there has never been a singular women’s movement. Women’s rights first emerged in the western world, but have slowly been given credence in other regions. Women all over the world have faced off against varied oppressors. The movement has witnessed peaks and valleys of second-wave, third-wave, and now a fourth-wave feminism. There’s liberal feminism, lesbian feminism, even ecofeminism – and what do you know, the word feminism was coined by a MAN! – 19th-century French philosopher Charles Fourier. We’ve been labeled, insulted, dissuaded, and beaten back. We’ve often disagreed, but that’s OK – disagreement spurs dialogue.

Remarkably, out of our disparate struggles and different experiences, arose the largest protest in U.S. history, the Women’s March – a passionate sea of more than 2.9 million men and women of diverse backgrounds gathered at sites around the world to send a message that we stand together for all rights!

And now it’s time to rise above the pussyhats, crude jokes, pop aphorisms, and biting criticism of the “other” side. This very radicalism is partly responsible for our deep divisions.

lady-justice-blindfolded_55d3389af74020f6

The feminist movement is not a power struggle; it is a platform for justice. Lady Justice embodies divine order and moral courage. She does not slander; she does not shout from a megaphone and make demands.

We should NOT sit back and accept catcalls and blatant disrespect, but it’s dramatic to say that we live in a rape culture. We live in a highly sexualized culture. And there’s wisdom in a measured response so that when a more severe one is needed it can be taken seriously.

The gender gap is real, but we have to stop and realize that women have only been in the workforce in significant numbers since the late 60’s/early 70’s. It is up to us to Lean In to leadership (for heaven’s sake more men named John run large companies than women). More female voices in leadership and governance around the world are essential in order to have true equality of opportunity.

In all pursuits, it’s important that we find ways to Thrive.

Our passion is unmatched. Our spirit is unassailable. Our time is now.

Nevertheless, as we persist: may we strive for impartiality in our judgements, generosity toward others and the past, and a steadfast commitment to justice.

After all, our rights are human rights!

The Reality of Happiness

Happiness is…

quite simply: when expectations match reality!does-not-compute

But how often do these two things equate?

Certainly not often enough; reality bites! So let’s just lower our expectations and get on with it, right?

Well, it turns out when it comes to happiness, we already have. In modern society, we’ve come to define happiness purely as personal pleasure. We’ve democratized it as an individual right and pursued it to a frenzy. We’ve bought every book, pill, and self-help solution to be HAPPIER, only to find ourselves more miserable than we started. Check out Darrin McMahon’s Happiness, A History and his article here at the Greater Good Science Center.

With rates of depression and anxiety on the rise in the U.S. and around the world…

Depression statistics infographic

It’s time we realize that the expectation of happiness as a human right is flawed! It’s unreal.

Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, has contributed to the mounting evidence of a set-point for happiness – a genetically predisposed “baseline happiness.” In fact, researchers say that 50% of our individual happiness is inherited. And we’re up against another challenge – as an intrinsic part of our personality our happiness level doesn’t change much over time. While we may get a boost or rush of happiness as a result of a positive experience in the moment, we quickly return to our baseline. It’s never enough. We’re always left empty, seeking, expecting, and wanting more and more.

We’d be happier if only we’d realize that happiness is not our natural state.

Quite the opposite, we seem to be largely unhappy with the limitations of our fragile human existence. Yet that same unhappiness drives us to overcome, invent, create, and work in ways to vastly improve the world around us.

In reality, the pursuit of happiness often entails immense suffering, intense struggle, and costly personal sacrifice.

Happiness for happiness sake is a dead end pursuit.

Happiness is not about feeling good; it’s about doing good! And true happiness is found not in a fleeting moment of pleasure, but at the end of the journey – as the reward of a meaningful and virtuous life.