In recognition of International Women’s Day, let’s root out implicit bias of how women are treated.
This year on International Women’s Day, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge. I choose to challenge the status quo of how all women, and especially women of color, are treated in this country and around the world. The challenge exists worldwide with many variations on the theme of how to disempower women. Whether it is the language we use to refer to a female politician or physician, or whether it is the grocery clerk at your local store, we are always operating with our biases. The respect that each woman seeks from others starts from within. That sense of respect, self-care and self-worth impacts those around us. Each of us needs to set the boundaries of what we will not tolerate anymore.
Fearlessness in a hand gesture
A specific hand gesture has power to shift the energy in our own bodies and minds. Hold your right hand next to your body at heart level and feel the power. This is an important gesture for yourself and those who witness it. It symbolizes fearlessness in many traditions.
In the East Indian tradition, this hand gesture, known as a mudra, is said to create a sense of courage, steadfastness and safety. In addition, it can reduce anxiety and increase a grounded feeling.
I have brought this gesture into my life during times when I need to feel fearless. I challenge you to go ahead, try it out and see if your day flows in a grounded, empowered way. This is a form of self-care and awareness of how you are in charge of your body and mind.
Time to put to rest misogynistic tropes
Recently I heard a report on NPR interviewing Dr. Tamara Lomax, author of “Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture.” In her book, Lomax references the biblical story of Jezebel, who was married to a king yet chose to keep her religion rather than take her husband’s religion. Though she was foreign-born and an immigrant, she became powerful in her own way, which created discomfort in the status quo.
Now, in our modern times, there is a trope about Jezebel, which refers to “wicked woman” and has ties to slavery issues in the United States. The racial and sexist term refers to the angry black woman who is not accepting of male sexual aggression toward her.
Lomax was being interviewed to give perspective after two Texas pastors referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as a Jezebel. Clearly, there is fear of the power our vice president now has. She is one step from being our President, if something happened to Joe Biden. She is a most capable person, regardless of gender or race, who can fulfill the role. That is why she was elected.
Embracing each of us as fully human, deserving respect with full equality
International Women’s Day is about each of us being more humane and respectful. It is about how each of us, including men of all colors and nationalities, embrace that each person on this planet is fully human and has the right to be treated with respect, dignity and equality. As a culture and as individuals, we need to rise above any perception that anyone has a limited ability because of their gender or race.
A simple step to remove implicit bias
Orchestras across the United States now do blind interviews because it became recognized that there was an inherent bias when a female would perform. Orchestras are much more balanced in ratio of men to women now since this tradition was started. Each orchestra is much richer for the diversity it has sought to create. More of these interventions are needed in many settings where the talent of the person is not seen due to our own biases.
Though we take this one day to celebrate women, we need to recognize that every day needs to be a day of celebration of all that women do each and every day for their loved ones and in their work. They are most likely underrated and yet, overperforming. That is what most women do; it is in their nature to give. Much like Mother Nature. She gives so much more than we ever give her.
Let’s educate ourselves to be aware of our biases and no longer feed misperceptions that lead to complicit behaviors. Each of us need to increase self-awareness and practice self-care to break the cycle of abuse, racism, sexism and misogyny. Let us be brave as we journey inward toward our soul, where we hold an awareness far beyond our perceived limitations. Blaming others doesn’t solve what is needed within to be healed, cleansed.
Respect and equality for women creates a safer world for all
Where there is the respect, there can be gratitude. We need kind gestures as much as we need pay equity. Let us respect women as autonomous and uphold their right to walk in this world without fear of being accosted or belittled, no matter what they are wearing. What a world that would be!
Amen to the women of color who hold positions of power and are new standard-bearers. Women are amazing! Let us celebrate with gestures, big and small.
In good health with a fearlessness in my being,