We are in a transition phase on many levels and I believe that the family, base of all society, is threatened today if we don’t take the right steps. The primary one is to make sure couples are strong and lasting.
A couple is the cement as well as the foundation of any family. The couple wellbeing is quickly overlooked as time passes. And among the many challenges a couple has to face, women independence is prevalent.
More and more women have a career that gives them financial independence. It is a wonderful thing because it finally acknowledges women’s freedom to be whatever they want. It also forces us to re think what a couple can be in the long run. When moral values weaken any commitment, and financial dependence is no longer the forced bond it used to be, how a couple can not only last but also thrive?
To make sure the new financial independence does not result into a dying family concept, we, women, must be true to ourselves no matter what. This is the only way men will still have plenty of space in our lives. Although tempting at times, it is delusional to believe that women can live without men.
If we really care about women’s conditions we must go beyond the antagonism that has been the base of pure feminism.
At the base of the first steps of feminism in Europe, the man was the enemy because his power and rights left no room for anyone else.
Amazing women in the nineteenth century here in the US, in the twentieth century in Europe, had the audacity to challenge men’s power to get their share.
For centuries before, we were led to believe that the only power we would ever get is a manipulating one: “always make sure that he feels he has the power, and you will get what you want”.
It took great courage for all these women who fought for our freedom. Think about the fact that before World War II, a little over seventy years ago, women in Europe could not vote. When we put things in perspective women’s ability to decide for themselves is frighteningly new.
Even if in the US the vote battle started in 1843, when you watch TV shows such as I Love Lucy, or Bewitched which is a later reflection of the society, you can see how dependent women still were.
Even if women for more than thirty years in the Western world have been able to study in order to have a career without any difficulty, it is only recently that women started to really want a career and all that goes with it.
I can’t help but noticing how many women of my generation have studied at college and university level and have stayed housewives thereafter.
I was one of them, until I decided it was time to move on. My husband deeply believes that financial reasons were at the source of that change. I disagree. It may have been a catalyst but it was not the root cause. My life was not fulfilling being a mother and a wife only. I needed more. I wanted to use what I had learned over the years. I wanted to achieve something on a larger scale than my own family. And more than anything else I was longing for intellectual stimulation.
My beloved friend who is also my physician keeps telling me that it may be too much for my shoulders: raising three kids, building a website and blogging. I keep repeating that my work is what keeps me going.
Many women these days just have to work and they forget to acknowledge the pleasure, the sense of belonging, and the sense of self worth they get from it.
In Real Simple magazine a few months ago I read a survey stating that working women are happier than those who don’t work. It makes perfect sense to me. In a world where individualism is the lead, how can an adult depending on another one feel self-fulfilled? The housewife dependence is absolute: not only she relies on her husband for any financial need, but her view of the world is limited: she is outside the work force. And even if she stays informed as much as she can, she is outside.
The simple fact that it is close to impossible for a woman who has stopped working for several years to come back into the work force at the level of career choice and salary she left off is significant.
When I was in Hong-Kong I decided I would try to get back to work in a law firm, or in a legal department while I was conceiving and creating my website. Not only I am a certified lawyer at the Paris bar, but I also have a specific degree in fiscal law, family law, litigation and international arbitration that necessarily imply some understanding of common law. I had training both in London and in Paris. Whatever the type of law, I knew where to look for the information I would need when I get back to work. Knowing that I needed to refresh my memory and get back on track for practice skills, I was ready to work as a trainee, paid minimally, for the first few months.
Law is interesting because it is an ever-changing field that requires constant updates. If one likes research the way I do, it is both exciting and fun to understand and use a new law or a new court decision. I was confident that within a few months of hard work, I would be both efficient and valued in the firm.
The legal head hunter I met told me that I had no chance whatsoever to have my curriculum looked at. He said I had to go back to university to get a new degree in order to be eligible for an interview.
At the time it hurt me and angered me. But this is typically the kind of game where you have to play by the rules however absurd they seem to you. The plug and play policy was right in front of me. What is exactly the plug and play approach? Mimicking the idea that you take any video games device and you start playing immediately with it, the work force is looking for the person who has the exact experience it’s looking for; no particular training is necessary, and the person is immediately productive. That sounds practical isn’t it? The problem is that it does not match people’s complexity. This rule works well in a world where you have one career for life; but we all know that this world is long gone. It is true though that every field is increasingly technical and fosters specialties. Technology and globalization however are reshaping a lot of fields and having someone mature with a fresh approach may be a good way to catch the train as it goes.
The plug and play rule is a man’s rule. It now plays to an extent that defies common sense: I would agree that when you shift career in any technical field, you need to be trained and taught first. Some legal fields are harder than others but they are all based on the same logic. Once you know you have been trained, the best way to quickly be productive is not to go back on the school bench, it is to dive into the reality of the job.
I was asking for a trainee salary to start with: any firm who would have bothered to interview me and hire me on a trial basis would have made a great deal. They would have hired a highly motivated person, mature, with multi-level experience that fosters a pragmatic approach, and all that for the price of an inexperienced trainee.
I had learned how to speak and write legal terms in French and English, it would have come back very quickly considering how motivated I was.
The risk for any firm was limited: most likely it would have been a win-win situation. So why is it that no firms would even consider an interview in order to hire a woman in my situation?
Well nothing more than habits.
People are still hired today the same way they were hired fifty years ago, in a linear fashion. One graduates, one takes an internship, then another, gets hired in the same firm, spends three to four years, then move up the ladder within that firm or its rival. No pause, no gaps in that process, save for military duties, are accepted.
Worse, the economy is so uncertain that there is no guaranty of any kind that the one hired will keep his or her job for long.
It takes to think outside the box to go in any other direction. The larger the firm the worse it gets, because who will take the responsibility politically to deviate from the main road if something goes wrong?
Hence the plug and play approach.
What should matter are the will and the eagerness to perform a task.
Women in the work force are known to be efficient hard workers: they are focused and they never fall into the complacency trap, unlike certain men. They can’t afford that. They are under massive scrutiny that leaves no room for mistakes. And they have to pay for the fact that they have a family to take care of as well.
How many women see a set back in their career when then have a child? Those who want to limit this “side effect” of a pregnancy, work until one or two days before delivery and get back to work after a month and a half or two, jeopardizing their health in the process.
When are we going to understand that a woman is able to get back on any task without any difficulty when she decides to?
All women are extraordinary multi-taskers. They are brave and committed. They are programmed to get the job done whatever it may be. They will do what it takes for that. But they will do it their own way, which is not linear.
If you wonder why I can be so positive about that: please take a closer look at what it takes to bear a child for nine months and then take care of his well being. Remember all the sacrifices you have either lived or witnessed in order to give birth to a healthy baby.
Women’s dedication is incomparable and completely overlooked in the business world.
In fact it is common that they would feel sorry if they have to leave because of a sick child. In certain cases they can’t even leave early their job and then they cope with guilt. They will feel sorry even if their obsession is going to be to catch up with work as soon as possible. When possible they even take some work to do at home. And the reality is that business will not suffer.
Don’t you think it is time we respect and acknowledge women’s rhythm in the business world?
Women live through cycles and that may seem chaotic for a system that still deludes people into looking for stability and constancy. But women are only reflecting what life is about. As days follow nights, all living things or being follow sinusoidal cycles.
Nothing in essence is linear. Linear is a male creation.
Economical crisis act as a reminder that we can’t be in constant growth: it is the down time of economic cycles whether we like it or not.
Women have to be in tune with cycles starting with their own. Even if marketing and pharmaceutical companies have done what they could to make menstruation a no brainer in women’s lives, so women could adjust to a man’s rhythm that suffers no circumvolution, we women, can’t ignore that time of the month when things are different.
Instead of viewing menstruation as a pain, a troublemaker, a party pooper, what if we started to see that as a blessed detoxifying process to keep us healthy?
We all tend to take health for granted until something serious happens. In our world when nothing ever stops really, we have lost track with two major facts: days are only 24h no matter what or where you live, and our body obeys to rhythm and cycles whether we like it or not. We have the technology and the science to force us to cope with a life that deliberately ignores these facts.
The problem is that now we also have pressure: the norm has become in the western life the one who ignores all cycles.
No wonder setbacks are dreadful!
By helping more and more women to get a job where they can make a difference, we have the opportunity to bring back balance in the spinning business world.
The challenge today is not only to allow more women in the work force it is also to let them be themselves, not a parody of men.
The more we will accept feminine qualities to show at work the more resourceful we will be to face any crisis. Female creativity and imagination is endless as long as we can tap into it.
The way women perform a task may not seem the shortest or the fastest, but it is the right way because it is the way that takes the unknown, the unseen into consideration.
Although education and social pressure have disconnected a lot of women from their instinct, and this ability to tap into the Universal Knowledge, Sixth Sense or whatever you want to call it, disconnection can never be total. The female body is programmed to be in tune with the earth and universal rhythms.
What we need is to restore the trust, the self-confidence women have lost in a male dominating world.
When, for centuries, we were told that women are inferior, how do we expect to get rid of this subconscious collective belief without special efforts?
In the 80s, women who had embraced feminism had set the trend of developing the yang side of all women so they have access to freedom. The yang side is the male side. As a result a lot of us suppressed for so long their feminine side that they have the most difficulty to connect with it.
We can hold a mask only for so long. It is time women show their true face wherever they are. At work in particular, the more women will do that, the easier it will be.
Go beyond your fears, dear ladies. Get out! And BE!