When Women Are Good to Each Other

I love women and I love being a woman. Some people might call me a feminist. On a drunken night out one of my colleagues told me that she imagined me burning my bras. I was flattered.

Feminism has become a dirty word these days. It evokes images of radical lesbians and man-haters who don’t wax their underarms. For the record I love all kinds of men and my armpits are hair-free.

What I don’t love is injustice against women and inequality for women. I simply cannot comprehend nor accept women being treated differently to men based on gender. Cannot. Will not. And I’m vocal about it. This includes the expectation that women will change their name upon marriage and gender roles in the home.

Deep down I believe that women are superior to men on many levels and I believe that men must embrace their natural femininity if we are ever going to achieve equality at home and at work. But that’s another post.

Today I want to write about what happens when women are good to each other because we all know that sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. We can be competitive, bitchy, judgmental, unsupportive and unforgiving of each other in regards to issues ranging from fashion, career, lifestyle and mothering choices.

But when women are good to each other the results are uplifting, empowering and inspiring.

Yesterday I had about 20 women at my home to celebrate the impending birth of my second daughter. She is due in a week and I deliberately made the event as close to the due date as possible because I wanted to bask in the glow of positive female energy as I approach the birth. (This might sound crazy but new studies suggest being amongst female friends releases oxytocin, the brain chemical responsible for producing feelings of love, contentment, calmness, trust and empathy.)

I was surrounded by my mother and mother-in-law, my daughter, two sisters, aunts and my closest girlfriends. We formed a circle around my birth altar, which was adorned with candles and flowers. We let barriers down, opened our hearts and celebrated a new life and the amazing journey of motherhood. We participated in a couple of birth rituals and then did what we do best: talked and ate.

After feasting I beached myself on the floor in the room that I am preparing to give birth in. In one corner a girlfriend breastfed her baby, in another my daughter was beading necklaces for everyone. There was music playing, a small circle of smokers in the backyard and laughter throughout the house.

I believe that our greatest strength as women is our ability to communicate honestly and articulately but sometimes we are afraid of this power or we misuse it. What unfolded in my home yesterday was my version of feminism: women of all ages, backgrounds and life experiences coming together in joy to support and nurture one another. When women dare to reach out to each other we affirm our individual and collective beauty and brilliance. I love it.

I’m still basking in my good fortune and there wasn’t a hairy armpit in sight.

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Celebrating Women’s Day the Yoga Way

“In the grand scheme of things, women in the West were permitted to vote last week!”

Mark Whitwell, Yoga of Heart

If I had a guru, his name would be Mark Whitwell. Mark has been teaching authentic yoga in the lineage of Krishnamachrya and his son TKV Desikachar for over 20 years. I first met him in Sydney in 2009 and then did a weekend workshop in January.

I quote Mark because today is International Women’s Day (IWD). First celebrated in 1911, IWD recognises the economic, social and political achievements of women worldwide. Most women today have some knowledge of the way our lives have changed over the past century. We are also aware that the basic rights of women are still being developed in many parts of the world.

A woman’s feminine experience depends largely on the historical and social context into which she is born. I am a 30 year-old Australian woman who has had full access to health, education and political opportunities. I grew up with the freedom to dress, speak and act the way I pleased. As an adult I pursue a career full-time, sharing home and child-care duties with my husband. All my friends have similar lifestyles; we keep our maiden names, work hard and we spend our own money. We have no idea what it is like to have no access to education or employment, to be told what to wear and to serve a man before ourselves. We believe we are equal. We believe we are free. But are we?

In his book, Yoga of Heart, Mark talks about the continuing power struggles between women and men:

“Men are afraid of women’s power and many women are trying to to duplicate men rather than relax and be themselves.”

He believes that yoga has the power to change this and free both men and women from restrictive gender roles. In a nutshell; yoga can help both sexes to soften and recognise our mutuality rather than our duality. It is only when this happens that we can find our true power as humans.

Do you think women try to duplicate men? And do you think that men are afraid of the power of women? What does International Women’s Day mean to you?