MN Writes Reads

Killer Drive

Princess Haley
Princess Haley is founder of Appetites for Change, and a Bush Foundation fellow. (photo by Sarah Whiting)

Only 50 years after women were given the right to vote, and four years after the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, women began to stand up again. Still wearing their aprons and organizing babysitters for their children, they fought for everything that were already being offered to the men. First the movement was noticed, then women were taken seriously, then — just like rights for Black people — equality was enforced differently in each state.

They returned home after long nights of organizing for their liberation. I wonder: Did the women fighting the good fight consider where liberation would lead us?

I agree with the movement. I wish I could have sat in the room to hear the ideas of Jo Freeman as she wrote, led, and fought for women as strong, capable, and qualified to do anything they put their minds to.

Despite the long fight, the work for women hadn’t really begun. Is there a correlation between a rise in teen pregnancy and juvenile delinquency and women becoming liberated? Latch keys replaced open doors and arms to welcome kids home with questions about what they learned.

Although women and mothers have been seen as second- class citizens — an afterthought to support Adam in one creation story — in actuality, women are the creator’s assistant, physically doing the laborof bringing life forth within. Whether she decides to birth and raise children or not, being a woman often means believing she can do and take it all.

Yet the creation process, taking everything on, and being seen as just as much a human  as  a  man,  is  not  the problem, really. What I see — in myself, in women around me — is that we need to be concerned for our life expectancy. What is the impact of the demand on woman and mother because of the killer drive to be successful, and compassionate, and nurturing?

Sometimes her needs and feelings are downplayed with a beautifully forced smile, aching feet in high heels, and the automatic response when help is offered: “It’s okay, I got it.” I see women leading in today’s society who spend sleepless nights writing grants to fund organizations. Other women are preparing meals after a long day of work and school, and may not even have time to eat.

Will generations of women die earlier because of their killer drive and desire to be successful in a framework that has been created by men? Or will they begin to seek balance in their lives — to prioritize self-care? The future of our womanness depends on a deep conversation within, as well as questions pondered with other women about how we can be true to ourselves.