Last week, I received a copy of my old school newsletter. Sent to alumni, it brings the old girls up to date with recent happenings at school, new buildings and developments, recent reunions and news of former students.
The pages were full of beaming women, either surrounded by former classmates at reunion events, with their children, or posed wedding photos with their husbands. Their updates, apart from a brief mention of a placement at university or work, then quickly veered into marriage and children.
It struck me from reading these brief biographies, just how much we, as women, define ourselves by our relationships with others. We see ourselves as mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, lovers and friends.
All of these relationships can be incredibly rewarding, and we derive so much strength and comfort from them. We invest so much of ourselves in these relationships, that sometimes it’s hard to know where the relationships end and you as a person begin.
An old schoolfriend once confessed how the cool girls at school had given her hell, but now she was able to hold her head up high, because she had married a great guy, who earned a lot of money and they were able to afford a house in Albert Park. I think I murmured something along the lines of “You really felt like that at school?” and went to get her something to drink.
To tell you the truth I was gobsmacked. My initial thoughts were “who gives a shit what the ‘cool’ girls think”, and “honey, you’re worth far more than all those ‘cool’ girls put together” and lastly “why should you define yourself by your husband and how much he earns?”
It’s International Women’s Day and what I would really like for women to do today is think of themselves as people worthy in their own way, and not simply defined by who they know, if they gave birth or not, if they’re attached or not, if they’re hot or not. I’d like for women to think they are worthy of living in a society which pays them a wage equal to that of males, that doesn’t treat them with contempt or amusement and for women to have the courage to demand it. I’d like for women to to take some time out their day today to find some time for themselves and simply be themselves.
And lastly I’d like to see my next school newsletter to celebrate successes like “B went recently to Africa to bring over rhinoceruses for the Werribee Zoo, and is the rhino specialist there,” and “D recently went to New Zealand to represent Australia in an international triathlon meet”.
Happy International Women’s Day to everyone.