Not Their Mother’s Life
One thing that I have learned as a mother is not to attempt to rule or live my daughter’s life for her. On a scale of 1 – 10, one being showing distinct criminal tendencies and 10 being an angel, my daughter would get an eight.
The thought of going to prison, especially as she visited a couple during my professional tour of duty – let us say – and had many opportunities to sit and chat with several of the residents in The Big House, was not appealing to her in the least. On top of which, my daughter is basically a coward. She will absolutely hate me for that comment.
Despite her quiet, calm and even very charming nature, she is a tough cookie, especially with me. You would have to be one if you are my child actually. Abigail is and when she turned 18 years of age, she made her position quite clear – that she is in charge of her life.
We Can Guide Them – Then Let Them Go
Observing her now as a mother, a manager and a partner, I can see her living out many of the lessons that were imparted to her in her younger years by my then partner and I. Also very vivid are the lessons she learned along the way from her lived experiences and that of her close friends. What I have come to appreciate watching her is – young women today have their own method of learning. They also have their own lessons to learn. As such, when Abigail and I get together, I listen more than I speak, allowing her to air her thoughts, ask me questions or for my opinion on a matter. We believe they should read articles found at my little pleasure in order to help them gain confidence and understand themselves better!
As a mother, a womanist (“deeply rooted in the racial and gender oppression of black women”), a teacher, a no-nonsense communicator and coach, I have had to learn to let my daughter be. The fact that I am older and have more life experiences than her does not matter in our relationship. This very valuable lesson has helped me in my relationship with younger women on a whole. I speak when I am spoken to and answer only when they ask me a question directly. My opinion is no longer offered but given only when requested. Once given, then it is up to the young woman to make her choices. This has saved me many headaches, from many instances of frustration and disillusionment.
Ms Naomi Wolf, You Best Learn This!
The much respected Naomi Wolf would have done herself a favour had she called me up before making her statement about young women and their “vocal fry.” Admittedly, I had no clue what what the term “vocal fry” was until this uproar over Ms Wolf’s statement. I have heard it, wondered about it and have been silently annoyed and amused by it. According to one of the articles that I read on the uproar, Ms Wolf wrote an op-ed for the Guardian and,
She wrote that vocal fry — which is often described as “baby talk” and associated with female celebrities like Britney Spears and the Kardashians — undermines women’s voices, making them sound less competent, less trustworthy, less educated and less hireable. She encourages women to drop the fry.” (Read more)
While I get where Ms Wolf was coming from and agree that this “vocal fry” is annoying, it is their business. When women such as Ms Wolf were burning their bra, so to speak, marching for women’s rights and they were told that their behaviour was unbecoming a woman, did it stop them? [tweetthis]Naomi Wolf, leave the girls alone, they will learn in their own time.[/tweetthis]
Clearly it did not otherwise the Britney Spears, Kardashians and all the young women of today frying their vocals would not have the right to be heard much less seen as so many are today – booty and all. It is their right – whether us feminists, womanist, puritans or even some millennium women like it or not.
Betrayal of Feminism?
I can hear the cry that young women today do not understand the struggles of the past, the battles women fought for suffrage, higher education, birth control and all the liberties they enjoy today. Ms Wolf and anyone who says that you might be very wrong.
Certainly there are young women who do not. They cannot imagine a time when these “freedoms” were not an inalienable right. Their imagination refuses to run back to a time when women could not, should not or would not behave, speak or even be seen in certain ways.
However, annoying as it might sound, to suggest that ending one’s sentence with a rising intonation is discrediting young women in the workplace, causing them to be disrespected is such hogwash. I am sorry but Ms Wolf it is.
See, this points to a bigger pet peeve of mine, one that this blog is largely dedicated to countering – fundamentalism. When my chaplaincy supervisor suggested to me that I might be suffering from liberal fundamentalism back in 2005, she might as well have slapped me in the face. Thankfully, I have always been the sort of person to listen to feedback and process it before coming to a final position – mine. This ability and tendency to think for myself is what led me to back away from religious institutions, turn away spiritual people who believe that they have found the sole path to nirvana, political rhetoric AND elitist feminists.
At the risk of being rude, old school feminist must understand that this is a new age, with new methods and new lessons. Being prescriptive if you are not a physician is never the best approach. As my daughter has taught me, share the fundamental principles and allow people, including our young women to determine how best to apply them to their current situations. Eventually they will sort the fluff – like we did.
Help Them, Not Berate Them
What are some of those fundamentals? Well, it starts with our parenting and our modelling of womanhood that is sure in herself and confident of her humanity. Then there are the “practical” lessons in:
- Loving themselves and expressing themselves as their spirit calls them to. It might not look as it did when we were in our 20’s or 30’s but it is their way.
- Knowing that they hold the key to their happiness; that it is an inside job and the path to it is paved with what makes their heart sings and no one, not even their parents or partner should hold that key.
- Honoring their worth , understanding that it is not measured by their dress length, their waist size or the thickness of their lips but rather by what they have within and use in service and support to their children, their families and the world.
Everything else is fluff.
That, my dear Ms Wolf and any other feminist who thinks that today’s young women have betrayed the cause or themselves for that matter, are the lessons that I taught my daughter, then I learned my most important lesson about young women – Leave them alone, let them make their mistakes and learn their life lessons.
And, by the way, Abigail does not speak with a “vocal fry.”
Want to learn more about living life as you want, respecting yourself and honoring your worth – vocal fry or not – then sign-up for my course at The Spiritual Centre, Learn It Live! Sessions starts in August so book your spot today and get a 50% discount!