Today is International Women's Day. I've written about more than once here on the blog. It was cool, I got the gist of it of the day. One year I shared a video starring Daniel Craig. I figured his scripted piece was better than my own thoughts. Then a couple years later, I wrote about my daughter's amazing light but spent most of the post writing about my role as a father to facilitate this and my viewpoints as a man watching women not being considered equal.
There's a lot of talk about equal rights and equal pay in the press. Most recently, Patricia Arquette made quite a splash at the Oscars with her comments, potentially on the heads of other groups that continue to seek equality. There are plenty of grand global sweeping statements on what needs to happen. Most of them start with, "It's time we start..." It makes you feel good. The heart may even flutter. But there are no real actionable steps to accomplish anything.
I woke up this morning with no plans to write anything, especially here. But as I was looking at some of the Women's Day posts on social media I was literally struck by a very simple notion that came over me: It starts at home.
It Starts At Home
As a 43 year old man, I've come to believe I know some things about this world and yet the more time I continue to breathe, the more I recognize I do not. I have made it my business to surround myself with men. Men's men, strong men, successful men, accomplished men. There are times when we talk, often in circles, about ourselves and how we can be better men. For those of us who have daughters we talk about them as if they are priceless possessions and in the same breath we speak of our women as wholly human - flawed, challenging, at times a handful, and at times burdensome. What gives? The best place to start making a change for International Women's Day is across the dinner table with the one whom you share your life.
How often do we go to work, watch the news, hear stories second-hand about women not having their equal rights and equal say and shake our heads, only to come home and casually dismiss, ignore or reject our wives because we think we know better or because we think we can handle it. And we do so with male indignation.
At times, throughout the course of this blog I have marginalized and even villain-ized my wife and then conducted myself with smugness as being a great father and man. One any woman should be happy to have in their lives. My wife has read everything I've ever written, opting to remain silent, burying the pain caused by my sometimes callous insights on her and often over-inflated insights of myself. What women or rights of women am I celebrating if I am not first celebrating the woman in my home? Sadly, none. If anything I am embodying the definition of hypocrisy and so are many of us, men who don't hold our wives as equals in our lives. This isn't about the ages-old leadership debate, but rather simply holding the one you claim to love in the highest regard as possible so that you can actually see who they are, versus focusing constantly on who they are not.
With that said, today on International Women's Day I'd like start at home by celebrating my wife because she is:
- Absolutely Brilliant
- Courageous and Brave
- A Force of Nature
- Thoughtful and Giving Beyond Measure
- A Loving Mother
In all honesty, my life is truly better because of her. She is a testament to strength and perseverance to everyone in my family. Being completely transparent, if I spent more time focusing on just these 10 things and less time on what I have perceived as shortcomings there's no telling how much more traction this blog would have as an empowerment tool to not only men and fathers but also women. It pains me to think that this blog has done anything less, especially as it relates to my wife. For this the blog and I owe her a tremendous apology.
For husbands reading this today, here's my call to action:
This is your duty. Take care of home before you set foot outside your home to entertain Women's Equality.
- Lift up the women in your lives.
- Hear them out.
- Trust them.
- Appreciate their perspectives.
- Understand they are just as right as you.
- Honor them.
- See them for their amazingness, not just what they could or should be doing better.
- Understand that they are not you.
- Celebrate their successes.
- Be there for them during their struggles.
- Promote them - tell them they matter to you and the world - everyday.
- Love them.
Meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father..