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Women's Work Never Ends

By tt stern-enzi · June 5th, 2013 · The Alternative
Last week’s Pew research report alerted us to the emergence of women as top-income earners in families today. The proof was wonderful, but when I read the news blasts and listened to all the trend pieces and discussions, a part of me wondered what all the fuss was about. 

Anecdotally, was this truly surprising? Sometimes I feel like the researchers at the Pew aren’t exactly on the hunt for the undiscovered, unearthing astonishing social realities and/or new paradigms; these reports merely confirm what is already plainly before our eyes.

A few weeks ago, I arranged a meeting between Marcelina Robledo, the head of Midland Film Institute and a social media maven for hire, and Patricia Wakim, the executive director of the OTR/Walnut Hills Soup Kitchens and Pantry. I serve on the boards of each organization and work closely with both women. 

I’ve been pushing Wakim and the Soup Kitchen board to consider making the leap into social media as a means of networking with current volunteers and expanding our base of support. I tend to find it humorous that, as a less than eager social media user (I still don’t even have a Facebook account), I’m lobbying organizations to jump in headfirst. 

Having worn her down, Wakim sought my input now that she was ready to take the plunge, and I knew that Robledo would be the perfect person to usher us into these treacherous waters, since she has been my guide during phase one of my initial blog/Twitter immersion. 

While listening to the back and forth interplay between these two professionals, I was struck by the fact that throughout my life, both professionally and personally, I have been surrounded by strong women.

Women at the helm of dynamic organizations. Women who were the sole providers of families. Women who refused to wait for men to approach them in clubs, coffee shops or bookstores. 

Based on my experiences, James Brown had it all wrong. It wasn’t a man’s world at all; we were just lucky to be living in it.

So that Pew news, well, it didn’t faze me much. But what did, again anecdotally speaking, was the sad truth that women still tend to be their own worst enemies, especially in the aftermath of exerting their strengths. I have found myself in conversations with and among women who, following this report, continue to revert back to discussions about the men who have done them wrong. To their credit, these women have largely come out the other side of these bad situations with exes and landed on better than solid ground, but there’s often this refusal to move on, which results in a series of digs at these lesser halves that have been shed. 

And any time this happens, I hear a not-so-subtle attack on the self-esteem of these women, and, by extension, women everywhere. By harping on these men and the failed relationships, the impression that remains is one of a need to not just bemoan the bad, but also to belittle themselves. Oh, look at us, we have such poor judgment. Oh, look how long we stayed in this bad place. Much less time, it feels, is spent on the good that has come from the change.

Men, in general, don’t wallow in the bad. If we’ve been done wrong, we get up faster, dust ourselves off, and walk away from the scene in search of the next experience, which we assume will be positive. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. The only time men cry in their beers repeatedly are in Country songs, and in that case, at least we’re using it for positive gain. I’ll lament my woman running off with my best friend if it sells a million copies, otherwise what’s there to talk about endlessly?

Think about Hilary Clinton and the string of women married to philandering politicians out there, especially the ones hitting the comeback trail. Some of these women might be standing by their men, but the smart ones aren’t saying all that much about it because they’re too busy getting busy with the next phase of their own lives. These women are becoming something more, something far better than their other halves, and we’re taking notice.

We would all be better served if we focused on women like Robledo and Wakim, the leaders of the new school who aren’t waiting for researchers to define or celebrate them and what they’re doing. 

They’re just living the life.

CONTACT TT STERN-ENZI: letters@citybeat.com



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