This week, I had my "annual" and a mammogram. While I remain grateful that I only have to endure these procedures annually, and that I have healthy breasts to mammogramify, it occurred to me that we females endure a tad more discomfort in our annual check ups than the average guy. Sure, I know, you have to turn your head and cough, but I maintain that the whole stirrups experience and boob squishing provide for the potential and reality of more physical, mental, and emotional discomfort than the cough procedure.
Not that it's a contest or anything. No way. Just because, in one doctor's office with predominantly female clientèle and staff, there was a poster entitled "The Rules" on the ceiling:
- The female always makes the rules
- The rules are subject to change at any time without prior notification.
- No male can possibly know all the rules.
- If the female suspects the male know all the rules, she must immediately change some or all of the rules.
- The female is never wrong.
- If the female is wrong, it is due to a misunderstanding which was a result of something the male did or said wrong.
- The male must apologize immediately for causing said misunderstanding.
- The female may change her mind at any time.
- The male must never change his mind without the express written consent of the female.
- The female has every right to be angry or upset at any time.
....or just because in the other office which also serves predominantly female clients and has predominantly female staff there is a poster, again on the ceiling, entitled "The Perfect Man" with a picture of a gingerbread man and the quote: "He's quiet. He's sweet. And if he gives you any grief, you can bite his head off."
Humorous? Sure. But ladies, to borrow from our historical candidate for president (whoever you are voting for, this was history) in his speech last night, we are better than this. We are better than laughing at cheap, gender-divisive humor while we have our feet in the stirrups or our breasts in a vice grip. We are better than needing to put down another gender (or worse, our own) in order to feel ok or better about ourselves. Why not take the opportunity, when you are serving dozens of women a week, to help us each feel more empowered to respect ourselves enough to know what our needs are and take steps to meet them so we don't need a negative reference group in order to feel strong? Where are the posters for that?
Self-care and self-esteem are inextricably linked. When I care for myself--wait, back up, when I even know what I need so that I can care for myself (whether I am male or female), I am much more likely to know I'm ok, to feel an internal sense of power and self, and not need to make anyone else "less than" in order to know I am ok. When I can differentiate between what I want and what I need (we truly suck at this as a culture, in my opinion...), then I can focus on getting what I need, and ya know what? That usually reduces the drive for "wants."
In the coming weeks, in this season of political drama, we will hear and see a lot of putting others down in order to make someone look good or better. If you need help discerning what fits with who you are, check out www.votesmart.org--an independent site with "just the facts, ma'am." Both major parties have had gender issues in candidate selection, and I really want to believe we are better than making that the issue. Prove me right. Take time to know who you are and what you need to be your best self. Your country and your gender are depending on it.