As I watched the US and Canadian women’s Olympic hockey teams simultaneously celebrate victory and mourn defeat in the early morning hours of February 22nd, it occurred to me that WOMEN ARE AWESOME. There stood two teams of highly-trained athletes, mentally and emotionally self-disciplined in myriad ways, literal warriors, shedding their tears and displaying unabashed emotions for all to see.
Sure, the Olympics are the pinnacle of achievement for athletes, emotions run at their highest and tears are often seen from even the men. But, it was the tear-stained cheeks of those hardened, yet decidedly feminine hockey players, some who fussed with their ponytails and fixed their running eye-makeup, that made me realize that this is what women have been fighting for for the last five-plus decades: we can do what men have done, we can do it on a global stage even, and we can do it while being 100% female, waterworks and all.
Nope, they won’t get paid as much when they go back to their pro-hockey teams. Their endorsement deals won’t be as large. Their coaching careers later in life likely won’t be as financially rewarding, but someday that will all change too. And hey, at least right now they can show the extent of their emotions to the whole world and not get mocked as men would.
So often in everyday life, women are pushed to control their emotions just as men are forced to do. And so often we oblige, losing a little of ourselves along the way. But in large part, women know a pretty important secret (subconsciously or not), and that is: if we quell our emotions to the extreme like most men have been brainwashed to do their entire lives, the whole world will implode.
I’m not exaggerating in the slightest.
At the micro level, tamping down our emotions when they really need to be let loose, can make women go a little bit or even a whole lot crazy. But on average, women are more apt than men to seek help for mental health issues – I just studied up on this. We’re also notorious for our propensity to congregate in support of one other, i.e., going to the bathroom in groups, raising untold amounts of money for breast cancer, or say, the last 50-100 years of the women’s-lib and equal rights movement.
We’ve also been allowed this emotional “weakness” owing simply to our sex for the last millenia. While most of what came with that judgement was suppressive and objectifying, there were a few advantages. One being that we have emotional freedoms that men don’t. As a result, there is much less toxic femininity than toxic masculinity destroying our world right now, i.e., you don’t see females gunning down children as they learn algebra.
One’s greatest weakness can also be one’s greatest strength, as we’ve all heard before. But that cliché is only true because as humans we judged wrongly. Emotions aren’t weakness. One need only watch a group of women when they see a man begin to cry to understand the inherent power of vulnerability.
Truly, I’d wager that if emotional femininity didn’t balance out UNemotional masculinity, our world would be one of constant war. School shootings wouldn’t even be a thing because schools would already be war zones. We would all be armed to the hilt, life-expectancies would drop, everything would be chaos because violence would be the answer to every conflict. There are parts of our world where war is a literal constant, and in those places unchecked masculine energy runs amok. Where women have few to no rights, society as a whole suffers greatly.
Seriously. I wonder how many times the tears of a woman have changed the course of history. Whether that be because in her sadness and frustration she got up and fought or because not being allowed to fight, she inspired a man to fight in her stead.
Buoyed by the ongoing Civil Rights movement, women in the modern world have fought for every ounce of equality we’ve ever gained. The women of today will never know the pain, frustration, hardships and humiliations of our previous generations, but that is exactly why they fought: So their daughters wouldn’t have to. So that eventually (SEVENTY-EIGHT YEARS eventually), women would play hockey on the Olympic level beside men and be just as celebrated.
So, while I certainly believe that the tears of women might save the figurative world, it’s actually the tears of men that are needed to rebuild what’s gone wrong with our literal world right now. No one can disagree that while some aspects improve, others are definitely getting worse. And fast.
Children are gunned down in classrooms. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are victims of physical violence from an intimate partner. Rapists are less likely to go to jail than any other criminal. 4.5 million people are trapped in forced sexual exploitation. The statistics go on and on and get worse and worse.
Women have battled our way from being the property of our husbands and fathers to now having the same legal, and hopefully soon the same social, rights as they. We now need to fight for the rights of our men and our boys. Men know how to fight against each other, but they don’t really know how to fight for each other. That’s where the warrior women come in. We’ve had a lot a practice. And we can lead the way.
Boys deserve the right to feel. They deserve and NEED to be able to show emotion, not just anger and rage, and not just through fighting or competition. Boys need to be taught that vulnerability isn’t weakness, that the softer emotions are valuable tools to understanding the world and making it a better place. They are literally killing us because this right has been taken from them in the name of making them men. Perhaps we need to let them cry instead of shutting them up or telling them to toughen up. Somehow, someway, we have to let our men and our boys feel.
What this looks like, what it means, we’ll find out as we go, but truly, this is the fight for our generation of warrior women.
(Published in the February 27th issue of the Warroad Pioneer)