I Am Woman, Hear My Woe

A Story of Empathy and Imagined Equality

No, I’m not particularly full of woe, but for the past few days I’ve been metaphorically girding my loins, knowing that a tale of woe is coming. Wow, I’ve listened a lot the past few days. The thing is, every single person venting, lamenting, kvetching, or sniffling is totally justified. Every so often it gets this way, when there seems to be a dark cloud over my social circle.

Rain lily in rocks. Beauty in a tough space.

I’m privileged to listen to people and not try to solve problems. We all need someone to listen to us from time to time. I know my turn will come! The problem today is that I’ve heard so much woe that I’m not able to come up with ideas for making the things better that it’s my JOB to make better. I’m all jumbled up. I guess I better go breathe and let some of it out by tomorrow!

Evening primrose and concrete.

As I went for a walk around the Austin house neighborhood to clear my mind (and take pictures), I started wondering if all this empathetic listening is one of those stereotypical woman things, you know, women are nurturing and all that. Do people assume I’ll listen because I’m a woman or because I just come across as gender-neutral empathetic? (Rhetorical question)

Drummond’s onion. Beautiful. Look at all those little antses!

Stick with me here. That musing led to a surprising thought. I just don’t spend a lot of thought on my status as a woman. In my mind I’m Suna, and being female is not one of my more important parts of my identity. I’m not on the alert for sexist comments or put-downs for being a woman. I don’t feel discriminated against at work or at home. What???

Nightshade.

Oh of course I know there’s sexism out there and stubborn areas of inequality that need to be addressed. You know, just like we’re not in a post-racist society, either. But I’m not feeling constricted by being labeled female anymore. I am quite confused by my lack of concern about this inequality, especially given that I get all righteously indignant about discrimination against other kinds of people.

Cedar sage by the Bobcat Lair.

I wonder if my privilege from my whiteness and being perceived as cisgender compensate for being female, to where most people treat me as equals. Or…I just assume people think I’m their equal and act accordingly? That may well be it. I feel equal so I don’t let myself be treated any other way.

Anita’s hibiscus.

Hmmm. I don’t know what to think about this. Life is complicated. I feel way too lucky to feel so free and equal when so many people I know feel oppressed, put down, or truly challenged just because of who their parents were, where they came from, or who they love.

Ruth’s succulent in bloom.

What can I do? I know that! I’ll keep advocating for the creation of a world where our diversity is celebrated and our differences used to our advantage. I’ll keep learning about ways to realize my prejudices and biases and be an ally for those not as privileged as me.

I’m also privileged to live in a beautiful place.

My question to you women out there is whether you feel like this or am I having atypical experiences? Where are you feeling discriminated against or thwarted in your life because of your sex? What’s your source of woe, or do you experience freedom and joy?

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

2 thoughts on “I Am Woman, Hear My Woe”

  1. I’m glad for you that you have been feeling freedom from gender oppression. That has not been my experience of late. I’m the point person for coordinating the repair/replacement of the private road that I and my neighbors live on. I’ve been calling road repair contractors and I’ve been very frustrated by the process. So few return my calls, a few have made appointments and twice I’ve waited entire days for one of these dudes to show up and ended up stiffed. The few who have come out, have yet to send me their estimates. I groused about it on an email to the neighbors and one decided to jump in to get some action. HE called and was given actual appointments, not the “I’ll be by sometime tomorrow” appointments that I was given even though I strongly requested a more firm time commitment so my “whole day wouldn’t be wasted”. HE called the contractors that hadn’t gotten estimates back to me, even after I’d called several times and miraculously the estimates were sent immediately to HIS in box. And when I complained about this obvious different treatment, to my spouse I got a “guys will be guys” kind of response. What do you expect from a bunch of macho road repair guys? Well!!!! I expect to be treated with respect, given the courtesy of showing up for appointments made with me, respect for my time by not giving me vague I’ll come by sometime kind of appointments and professional follow through by returning estimates in a timely manner. And most of all, I want my spouse to have my back on this and not make excuses for the completely dismissive manner in which I was treated compared to my male neighbor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing this. That’s the kind of thing that’s infuriating. No doubt it will happen again to me one day. And yes, spousal support is so damned crucial.

      Like

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