Does someone else need to acknowledge our worth to make it real? Do we crave outside affirmation of our value because we are insecure by nature?
If women are insecure as a gender, we’ve been given reason to be.
A woman’s culture – our upbringing, our environment, social cues, and our own strongly held beliefs that nuance our experience – defines female status. And though it’s quite obvious that women have made enormous gains in terms of rights and participation, the global picture of the status of women and girls is not so rosy. When a governing power holds stubbornly to rigid stereotypes, cultural mores, and antiquated mindsets, there may not be much wiggle room for women to discover and express their worth.
Imagine that you’re a woman living in a country and society which denies you freedom of travel, forbids you to possess your own passport, complicates or denies your access to education and female-centric healthcare, restricts your participation in government, your ownership of property, your ability to obtain loans, to work outside the home, drive a car, or have custody of your children. Wow. Seems to me that this lack of freedom and autonomy could easily impact a woman’s feelings of worth, could it not?
And then there’s the prickly issue of how crime investigations – particularly in rape cases – have been handled in the U.S. The recent outrage at the backlog of unprocessed rape kits is well deserved. Rape kits can provide investigators with the evidence they need to find and prosecute rapists, but yet, for some inexplicable reason, many kits are languishing, unprocessed. How could this be allowed to happen? Does this say something about how we are valued and respected?
Yet, perhaps it’s not that simple.
Tough as it may seem, we need to realize our worth in order to actualize it. And step-by-step, we are making changes. Women are being called upon to take on even more challenges in the current economic environment, and we are clearly up to the task. Now we need to build our community and support each other. Those of us who have rediscovered our voices, who can expose and express our self-worth, need to help clear the road for those among us who still struggle.
The Dalai Lama said, “According to Buddhism, individuals are masters of their own destiny. And all living beings are believed to possess the nature of the Primordial Buddha, Samantabhadra -- the potential or seed of enlightenment, within them. So. Our future is in our own hands. What greater free will do we need?”
Indeed. Perhaps as young girls and women, we will be able to express that free will once more of us are able to model that behavior.
What do you think about self-worth? We are all part of this important narrative. Share your thoughts with me.