"Women Will Never Rule The World."
These are the words of my 99-year-old mother-in-law, uttered with a very certain clarity to my 32-year-old daughter while holding my 1-year-old-granddaughter. My mother-in-law, Grandma Lynn went on to say, "because women can't get along."
For context, this woman's WW II Coast Guard uniform is on display in the Women's Military Museum at Arlington in Washington DC and she is, by all means, one of the single-most independent and fierce women I know.
As a founder and servant of a women's empowerment organization, and one involved in all things that are related to women's circles and women's leadership for more than 20 years, my first impulse was, "she's got it all wrong." After all, S.A.R.A.H.'s been close to being impeccable in maintaining an environment of trust and love. We even have a safety net called an Agreement For Care and Caregiving, to be dusted off and put into motion when things get sticky in relationships. With rare exception, we get along and thrive in our highest and deepest value systems. I can count 4-5 women leaving unhappy and unresolved over the course of 20 years, but not without going through our processes. Those are some bragging rights for an organization that engages with hundreds of women.
Yet, according to her, there exists competitors where we should see sisters who need one another. They seek power in their ego, not the very feminine values of trust, collaboration, cooperation, and grace in the spirit they teach and preach.
That got me thinking about the gender element of this problem. Do the same boundaries of trust and cooperation not apply to men, and do they not also have issues with "getting along?" Perhaps it's all about what is expected of women in leadership, and the very fact that we "teach and preach" about these values being critically important and what is missing in the world of patriarchy. Then we wrap our work and reputation around that foundation.
'Sounds as if we have set a standard that we are not doing such a great job at living up to. I suppose that all boils down to intention. Maybe it's our "shadow" work that we could improve upon. In fact, as a leader in the field of women's community building, I have to admit, I have been sorely disappointed in more than a few women who I expected better "leadership behavior" from, even been personally crushed by, and I bet I am guilty myself to (hopefully) a small few.
Maybe you will agree with me that the dis-ease in our world right now is a clarion call to women leaders to clean up our act. In fact, it is a call to all women because we are the leaders of our life, our family, our community, and our world whether we realize it or not. Our power is immense, and that power can also be keeping the systems of domination and patriarchy alive that we work so intently on dismantling. The choice is ours.
Perhaps it is a time to shadow box with our ego, question our fears resulting in a certain behavior towards other women, intention, and our will to be vulnerable and honest with ourselves. Perhaps it's also time for compassion for those women and an opportunity to model the women's leadership we want to see in the world.
Grandma Lynn's crone wisdom deserves some respect, and I, for one, am listening.
Your comments are welcome below...