Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Yesterday, much to my shame, was International Women’s Day, which falls in March, which in America is Women’s History Month as well. Is it too much? Never. Women have been marginalized for eons. It’s about time they get recognition, and too much is still not enough.
The interesting things is that when we talk about women in terms of history or celebration of Women’s Day, we tend to speak of extraordinary women, women who are well-known, have been particularly heroic, women who are larger than life like Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, and Amelia Earhart. But what about the rest? What about the women people don’t talk about? What about the everyday women who are simply astounding? What about my friend?
My friend runs a daycare center, focused on the needs of the parents. Her tireless efforts are all about making the kids’ mothers lives easier. She is finishing her degree in psychology and works for a variety of charities all while raising her own children and helping her husband run his business. This is remarkable, but nobody sings her praises. Well, I do.
The reality is that average women are remarkable. When men are not feeling well, they often become the most helpless people on the face of the earth, but so many women will take care of their family, themselves, and keep going with dangerously high fevers.
I’ve long said that women are tougher than men. That, in my opinion, is just a fact. Women will wear dresses and skirts on days when men are dressing in thermal underwear and waterproof pants. But it’s more than that. They routinely put others ahead of their own needs and endure hardships not only expecting no recognition for doing so but knowing full well that they won’t.
I love common women standing up in extraordinary situations. Malala Yousafzai was not even a woman when her moment in history came. She was fifteen years old, living in Pakistan, and spoke out in favor of women’s education. She would have never even been noticed for her efforts except a group of Taliban soldiers stopped her bus, picked her out explicitly and shot her in the head. In Taliban controlled Pakistan, you could say that she was remarkable for her pro-women stand, but she was just a child with no power, and no real recognition, but she survived the assassination attempt. Just a common schoolgirl targeted for assassination by the Taliban.
What she did next was truly remarkable. This very common girl fought on. She gained international notoriety, and when she had every reason to simply give up and choose to survive, she kicked her crusade for women’s rights and education into high gear and used her newfound fame to push for women’s rights beyond the borders of Pakistan. She spoke in multiple venues on the importance for women to fight for their education, and even wrote a book that I am honored to have purchased. This ordinary, and frankly still underage girl stood up with the strength that, from my observation, is common in all (or at least most) women but all too often buried until it’s necessary.
Although I usually do not like using movie names in my blog, there is an amazing movie called “Tampopo” out of Japan (1985). A comedy, the movie is ostensibly about a single mother trying to learn how to make the best Raman noodles and the trucker who is trying to help her. The movie contains vignettes throughout the film, most of which are very funny, but one of them is a very sick mother. She gets out of her bed to make a meal for her family, and as soon as they start eating, she smiles, and she dies.
Okay, it’s a fictional film, but the scene always makes me cry. It’s about the strength of mothers, and their dedication to their family even over their own well-being. Never did she complain, never did she cut corners, it was just a need for her family (and husband) and she refused to die until the needs have been met. Truly heartbreaking.
This is why I love women so much. Their strength, their dedication, the work they do because it needs to be done. From what I have witnessed firsthand, this kind of effort is not unique. Although most women are not on their deathbeds, the needs of others over themselves is commonly their priority. They’ll clean, cook, shop for groceries, anything they can do to keep their family fed, well, and happy. This is why women deserve to have their own special day. You can try if you like, but nobody will convince me that the typical woman is not worthy of heroic praise.