What month is this again? Ah, yes – Women’s Month! And what day is it on Thursday 9 August? Ah, yes – Women’s Day! And what is this blog about? Of course – Women’s issues. And what a lot of issues we have! Myth has it that women once dominated social, political and economic life. They abused their powers and lost them to men, who have dominated these arenas ever since. Is the pendulum now returning to some sort of balance? Are women regaining their power? There is no question that our world today is still male dominated outside of the household. Are there ways for modern day, professional women to minimise the effects of this in their lives? And how can men accommodate the changes aimed at bringing about equal opportunity for the genders? Role reversal, where the man takes on roles traditionally played by women (like managing the domestic aspects of life) is something that works for some families where the woman brings in a significantly higher income or finds tremendous fulfillment in work done outside the home. Other solutions in heterosexual partnerships involve sharing the responsibilities both inside and outside the home. Perhaps this works well in the domestic situation but how much more difficult is it for the woman to play her role out there beyond the welcome mat on the threshold? How well equipped is she to operate in a professional world where the odds are stacked against her, with top dollar and top positions generally reserved for her male counterparts? It is commonly held that women have to put in a lot more effort than men to get the corner office, not to mention the glass ceiling that allows them to see the next rungs on the ladder but not to access them. Yet some women manage to slip out and up to dance, in their stilettos, on the glass ceiling! The stilettos are a reminder that a woman can maintain her femininity while succeeding professionally. No need to develop masculine qualities to compete in a man’s world. If she is competing as a woman, then cleavage power works just fine. This doesn’t mean women shouldn’t develop masculine qualities – just that they needn’t if they don’t want to. Yes, there are times when it helps to have those round bouncy things that men are born with. If you don’t have them, fake it! A woman can roar with the best of them. Like her counterpart in the animal kingdom, the lioness, a woman is powerful and multifaceted. She has great intuition, can sense danger and plan strategically. She operates from her strength and from her gentleness, as the situation demands. She is capable of rearing cubs as well as hunting for food. She embodies the yin and the yang. She can crouch, move stealthily and employ perfect timing to go in for the kill, engaging in teamwork with other lionesses to accomplish a shared goal. To apply these qualities professionally, women need to recognise their power as an independent and interdependent force in the workplace. There may be times when they need to “suck it up” and develop a thicker skin so that they don’t take every remark or event personally. Then, again, they need to put their more sensitive side to work as they read people in order to resonate with them and tune in to their inner world. By virtue of the nurturing qualities that nature provides (and which life circumstances sometimes suppresses) most women are well equipped to establish relationships that work for them and for the common good. Due to their diverse ego states (persona) professional women have the amazing ability to come home from work and move into the role of mother. To balance these often opposing ego states, a woman needs to have a healthy self-image. Some useful tips in achieving this are to: · Let go of the illusion of perfection · Accept and develop herself · Let go of the past · Reflect on her approach to life · Manage her emotions · Be aware that what she focuses on grows · Recognise the type of spectacles through which she views her life It is, sadly, all too easy for a woman to fall into a victim consciousness. This may not be a conscious choice. However, the problem with the unconscious is that it is unconscious. Victim consciousness is the manifestation of repressed emotions. If a woman doesn’t develop a healthy self-image, she may find herself in victim role. A clue to this is in the way she speaks. She may be inclined to say things like, “I had to …” not recognising that she has choices in the matter concerned. More and more, women are exercising choices in areas where, previously, many felt they “had to “do things in a certain way but which didn’t work well for them. One example of this occurs when women reject the institution of marriage and exercise their choice to live with a partner without the wedding. They claim the same justification for this choice as the offensive rhetorical question some men have been known to ask when avoiding the complications of marriage: Why buy the cow when all I want is a litre of milk? How do men respond to women with a healthy self-concept? Many modern day men like the idea but find the reality hard to live with. It will take more than an annual Women’s Day celebration to bring about constructive change in the way twenty first century men and women move towards relating as well integrated individuals on the work and home front. By all means, let us celebrate the day but then let’s take every day for the rest of the year to ensure that we’re moving towards mutual respect, positive regard and equal opportunity for the genders.