For the record, I am not a woman and never have been. What I am, is someone who adores, respects, supports, and advocates on the behalf of women. The resilience, fortitude, and determination that women possess may belie the reality of their plight, but those who are acquainted with their struggle know all too well the unrealistic ideals that women are expected to live up to.
These expectations include being a mother, being a partner, being a career woman, body image, attractiveness, desirability, social expectations, and sexual performance. Despite the progress that we have made as a society, women still lag behind men in terms of what they are paid, how they are treated and the respect which they are afforded.
Women are expected to be the primary parent, offering comfort to fussy infants as if they possess some magic spell which they can utter and put an end to the “suffering” caused by the baby’s cries. They “effortlessly” navigate the pressures of the corporate world and the demands of the household such as what meals to cook, figuring out homework, scheduling vacation and scheduling doctors’ appointments. Like a force of nature, they live up to the ever-changing standards of what it means to be “beautiful”—enjoyable diets and hours at the gym to maintain a figure that their younger selves would envy.
And even after all this toiling, they do the work which is expected of an “understanding” partner; their bodies are selflessly “sacrificed” for the pleasure of their spouses who may from time to time offer unsolicited commentary on the progress, or lack thereof, toward the attainment of that “perfect figure” and “ideal weight.” In addition to the expectations of physical intimacy, women are expected to carry the bulk of the emotional responsibility in relationships due to men being “emotionally-deficient”. That means perpetual pursuit of emotional connection, mentorship that includes patiently awaiting the development of her partner’s emotional maturity, and the investigative skills necessary to deduct from dysfunctional behavior some sense of the deeper meaning of the dysfunction (i.e., “I know he said that he was angry, but I really think that he is hurt”).
The result of the internalization of these expectations if often devastating to a woman’s sense of worth, can cause self-doubt, low self-confidence, and anxiety. It is simply unrealistic, and maybe cruel, to expect that a woman lives up to the standards imposed upon them by their partners and the larger society. The arbitrary standards of beauty, bombardment of images and subliminal messaging, require an almost ungodly effort to resist. Well, either that, or two middle fingers raised high and with pride.
Middle finger living rejects the impositions and unrealistic ideals and expectations. It means loving yourself, accepting yourself and living as your unapologetic self, because YOU ARE ENOUGH! The middle finger serves as a reminder to the world that no one but you gets to define what makes you: beautiful, strong, desirable, a good mother, a good partner, smart, accomplished, kind, sexy, attractive or affectionate. Middle finger living says that:
1. I know myself
2. I could not care less about what you think
3. You might as well keep your opinion to yourself
4. I respect your right to offer your input, but what matters most are my thoughts and feelings
5. I love myself in perpetuity
6. The changes that I want to make in my life are defined by me, for me, and only for me
7. My best is good enough; those around me and the world are better when I exist as unapologetic me
Now go show the world your middle finger!!!