Phenomenal Woman Blog
I’m a woman with a phenomenological inclination, who believes we understand ourselves and the world better through close attention to our different stories. I aim to challenge stereotypical portrayals of how mid-life women should and shouldn’t be.
You can count the seconds from any mention of International Women’s Day until the first (usually white) male asks the question: “Why don’t we have an international men’s day?”
Statistics suggest that I am far from alone in finding day-to-day day life more of a struggle at this time of year. Certainly, ideas for blogs are not tripping from my fingertips onto the keyboard and there is a bleakness to the days that goes beyond the weather.
There’s something unseemly about Davos – a modern day Mount Olympus, where a collection of mainly men - only 20% of delegates are female - cast themselves as the world’s decision makers and hang out loftily above the rest of us deciding the future of the planet and all that happens on it.
As 2019 begins, for the UK it is a year dominated already by endings rather than fresh starts. Brexit D-day looms: the political and economic arguments have been well rehearsed, but for many, feelings about Europe are deeply personal. This is my story of how being part of the European project transformed my life.
Resistant as I am to the cult of the first lady, Michelle Obama’s story and her meteoric success are so extraordinary in their own right that they merit telling. And she does so with intelligence and openness. Her comments on her own struggles with negative stereotypes and about affirmative action more generally started a train of thought about the perspective of those who have stepped away from power and how much they have to offer to the gender diversity narrative.
This week sees the publication in the UK of an indispensable book by Mylene Desclaux - “Who?” I hear you chorus: well, apparently she is a French blogger - offering tips on how to be happy in your 50s. From the press coverage (the book itself is not yet available) this appears to be a euphemism for how to pull eligible men once you are “over the hill”. This forthcoming literary milestone caused me to wonder whether national stereotypes might really in fact be true.
Among my generation there can be few formerly angst-ridden young women for whom the soundtrack to their sorrows did not include the songs of Everything but the Girl. The words of Bittersweet summed up my struggle between pleasing others and treading my own path.
In the week that Stan Lee died and as we watch Theresa May teeter on the edge of a very fragile Brexit glass cliff, my thoughts on the myths of the female superhero.
We are constantly being told that we live in a fast-moving world where perpetual motion is vaunted, almost prized, and standing still, whether you are a person or a business, is seen as laziness, even some kind of precursor to death. But all change is perhaps not equal and in the gender equality and diversity world different laws of physics seem to apply.
As US and European political discourse descends into harsh words, spawning both threats and actual violence, I consider how the inspirational words of Edith Eger, Holocaust survivor, and relational psychology for building effective working relationships across difference offer an alternative way forward.