By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.
Today is the International Day of the Woman. There are actually two “Day of the Woman” events here in America, as ours does not correspond with the international day.
But even two days is not enough.
Women are so amazing, and so poorly treated. Even today, men tend to not take women seriously, treating them as maids, ornamental or as a means to take care of their own selfish lustful needs without concern for the needs of the woman. When you think about the accomplishments of great women throughout history (Joan of Arc, Madame Curie, Malala), it’s not just their accomplishments that have been so astonishing, but that they did such incredible things while simultaneously fighting to be taken seriously because of their gender.
Malala is a personal hero of mine. Speaking out in favor of education for girls while still in school, she drew the attention of terrorists who felt so threatened by her that they stopped her school bus, took her out, shot her and left her for dead when she was just fifteen years old.
Can you imagine having egos so frail that they felt they had to shoot a fifteen year old? Malala survived, won the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to speak out even today (as of the writing of this blog she is 21). Her frail voice had been transformed into a choir by the actions of these cowards.
Women have always been stronger, tougher, and generally more intelligent than men. I had a conversation with a friend of mine who then wondered why it is, then, that men are the predominant leaders in so many countries and cultures. Personally I believe it is related to the heightened aggressive nature of men. Heightened levels of testosterone has been linked to more aggressive behavior, which I believe is an evolutionary trait. There was a time that women would have had to tend for the children, leaving the men to protect and hunt.
But we should have evolved beyond that point by now. Not that we have; abuse and violence is still predominantly done by men, and all too frequently on women. This is something that I will never understand, but that makes it no less true. As the director of a forensic science lab, during tours I would often stop at the refrigerated evidence locker to lament the need for such an item in the twenty-first century and in what is ostensibly the most evolved and advanced country in the world.
A friend of mine finds herself as a mother and housewife. With a bachelor’s degree in science, as I understand it she would lose some military benefits if she did get a job as her husband is in the service. As such, the two have plans for what she will do when he has reached early retirement, and yet, she periodically laments her life as “just a homemaker”.
The reality is that there is no such thing as “just” a homemaker. While these women may not have the notoriety of Malala, their jobs are nonetheless of critical importance. Personally, I’ve never had children. I’ve spent my life trying to make an impact for future generations through service, charity, and even teaching. This blog in and of itself is another example of these feeble attempts. My friend, on the other hand, is raising a daughter.
That daughter is the legacy of my friend. She is raising a remarkable young lady, who is kind, funny, intelligent, and giving. It is no easy feat to raise a responsible adult, especially one with charity in their heart. My friend has sacrificed the career she wanted, a sacrifice that is far more common for women to make than men even today, to raise this child. Her daughter, in turn, will likely have children of her own, and will probably instill within them with the same charity and love as she has learned.
I’ve fought my whole life, albeit to set an example and make a brighter future. This is, I suppose, my own personal version of aggressive behavior. But, my influence on the future will fade away, in less than one generation after I am gone. Some people manage to do astonishing things, like write books that last for a long time, but it is rare. I’ll pass on and be forgotten, regardless of the efforts I have made.
My friend, however, will influence not only the generations of her own progeny, but also for the people who carry her teachings will touch. Women who stay home, women who work and raise children, women who have elected to have a career and no children, women who have made huge impacts are all amazing. All of these things that they do are accomplishments from a position of being disrespected, but they have these incredible accomplishments anyway. Women should be celebrated, and recognized as the incredible heroes that they truly are.