It has been a great mystery to us why women have such a low self-esteem. Why it is so difficult for most of us to say out loud what we want? Why do most women keep apologising themselves if they want anything other than marriage and babies? Not everyone has to become a CEO, but have we really come so far and achieved so little? Even sexual and ethnic minorities are more self-confident about their opportunities in life these days than women!
This is what got our blood boiling this morning. In an article in Guardian newspaper Jinan Younis writes about the opposition, bullying and abuse she has received because she did not conform to the female stereotype. I encourage everyone to read it because it may help you to understand yourself and other women around you. As soon as a girl, and yes, we are bullied into this at an early age, or a woman steps outside of the stereotype of ‘what woman is supposed to be’ they get a verbal violent reaction. And yes, this leads many of us insecure and scarred for life to try to do anything challenging or exciting, or to define ourselves who we are and what we want to do.
17 year old Younis’ wanted to raise awareness of female inequality at her school and was confronted with a storm of hatred from boys of her age and sheepish behaviour and acceptance of bullying from the adults. The boys will grow up to become bullying men and the girls will develop low self-worth. This sounds pretty extreme and surely not every relationship end up being so terrible. However, we have noticed, and we have had our own fair share of male abuse – both physical and verbal – in our lives to know that this is a great problem and so deeply rooted into our lives that unless we become aware and gather all our strength to erase it, our daughters will not be any better off than we are.
We don’t believe blaming others for our own misfortunes. And same goes for this case. There is no need to spend endless time shouting at the boys who do not know any better. It is the role model they have grown up with secretly abusive fathers. (The abuse is so subtle that many live their lives without noticing it.) However, if we are aware of this negative pattern we can change our own behaviour and not fall victim to the bullying and belittling. We can start choosing who we hang out with and we can hear clearly when someone (male or female) is trying to put us down. We have to start to understand that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with us or our ideas, it is the people around us who are trying to keep us in their control. They want us small so they can look big!
We are currently writing our ‘Manifesto’ which will be published soon. We are not going to burn any bras because we actually believe the opposite. Women who are strong and stand up for themselves can be even sexier than those who try to conform into a stereotype and simply please the man. Female equality is not about women behaving and looking like men, that is just another form of bullying as women feel they can not be heard unless they look and act like men. Real equality happens when everyone, a woman or a man, can express themselves freely and look as sexy or non-sexy as they feel like. My own sexuality was boosted by my divorce and the fact that I stopped listening to no-one to what I was supposed to do or to be. In came fishnet stockings and out went twinsets!
The problem is that most men just don’t know how to handle something they can’t control – a woman who is strong within herself and also in her sexuality – and that leads to the problems such as bullying and abuse. I encourage everyone to walk away. I know it is easier said than done, but it can be done. (We have both done it.) It should be done. It has to be done. Because – you are worth it!!
We can have it all. And we should have it all. The only person stopping us is ourselves! We can be the greatest lovers and the greatest business women, both at the same time. We can be intellectual and we can be sexy. We can have our own careers and be great mothers. We can look like sluts, on occasion, and be top tax lawyers – both in the same body. We can earn as much money as we like and be deeply spiritual and caring. All we have to do is to let go of stereotypes and free ourselves to be what we want.
And not be scared.