It's been an interesting and busy couple of the weeks in the crossroads of my thoughts on yoga and feminism. It started with the b-word being thrown around amongst my fellow jurors while I was on jury duty. Then I read a very frustrating article in The Atlantic called The Confidence Gap. Finally, I watched Jon Stewart slam the media for questioning Hillary Clinton's ability to be a grandmother and possibly run for president.
My distaste for "The Confidence Gap" begins with the subtitle. The first six words read “evidence shows that women are less.” Ugh! Why even bother reading the rest? I already felt degraded.
I forced myself to read it, let it fuel my feminist flame, and finished it, frustrated. I wanted to scream,
“No, it’s not ME – it’s YOU dammit!”
“I’m not bringing me down, you're bringing me down.”
“You can’t self-help away deeply-ingrained structural discrimination.” (I borrowed that one!)
Should women be confident? Yes! Should women be confident in the way described in this article? I don't think so. What is referred to as confidence in this article is better described as over-confidence, popularity, and in some cases the ability to make intentionally false statements. But, that isn't the main concern.
The main concern is that when see a gap between two entities we automatically assign a less and a more. When we do this, two things happen. We reason that the less (in this case the woman) needs to catch up with the more (in this case the man). We also stop paying attention to why the gap is there in the first place. So what do we do about it?
I like to adhere to the three A's – acknowledge, advocate, and appreciate.
Acknowledge the gap and acknowledge your worth. The more affluent and influential women who continue to write self-help novels that basically tell you to act like a man to get ahead, the more they are obscuring the real problem. The gap is the problem, not you. Men and women are treated differently. Men make more money than women. Men are in more leadership roles. Masculine qualities are more valued. The list goes on and on. The gap is probably the hardest thing to change, but continuing to demand the same rights and privileges is important. If you are a man, acknowledge that some things are easier for you because you are a man. If you are a woman, acknowledge that you might have to work harder sometimes because you are a woman, but fight for this to change.
Acknowledge that this an external problem, not an internal one. It can feel like the world is working against you because sometimes it is. This is not because you aren't inherently worthy, but because the systems in place arbitrarily value some attributes over others.
There is a gap between men and women and it is full of discrimination, sexism, laws, and rules that aren't fully in your control. The gap isn't to be filled by women improving – it becomes smaller when we remove the things listed above. Closing the rest of the gap is not a matter of improving women, but better appreciating what women have to offer.
Acknowledge the gap and acknowledge your worth! That is your homework! I would love to hear how you value yourself as a woman (or man) in a way that doesn't relate to your gender. And I'd love to hear about where you see or acknowledge this gap in your everyday life.
Stay tuned for more!