In Praise of Women
As a lesbian, I figure it must be obvious to other people that I value women. But my appreciation for them goes well beyond my sexual identity. I have lived a blessed and rich life, largely because of the women I have been lucky enough to know, to work with, and to love. This is not a criticism of men. Many of my dearest people are men who have brought meaningful connection, sensitivity, and some amazing experiences. But it’s the women in my life who continue to amaze me with sheer fortitude, resilience, flexibility, creativity, hope, and good humor.
Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, my family was fairly typical. My father made the living and my mother stayed home and took care of my brothers and me. She eventually went back to work, but even then, she did her job in addition to tending to us, encouraging us, getting us to practices and other activities, feeding us, keeping us organized, and listening to whatever dramas we had going on in our lives. My brothers were 10 and 14 years older than me, so that meant a lot of years of managing humans. Once, when I was in junior high and she had worked a full day as a secretary, I remember her staying up most of one night to type a college term paper that my brother had waited until the last minute to write.
Thank you to all of the women in my life, for listening to me, for believing in me, for laughing with me, for seeing the possibilities in all of us, and for always, always being a model for what humans should be.
My mother died in May of 1988, a week after Mother’s Day, so I still think of her more in the Mother's Day season than practically any other. And mostly what I think is that it had to be hard to be an intelligent, creative, sensitive woman in an era when what women contributed was seen as far secondary to what men did. My mother felt this, I know, but there didn’t seem much she or anyone else could do about it, so they played their part and focused on kids and husbands and houses and later grandchildren.
Women in my generation were the first to add careers to that list of things we could do and would do without question. I was probably in my 50s before it occurred to me that many of the opportunities I’d had existed because of the women in my life and the women who came before me. Every mentor, therapist, coach, and co-worker who helped me see my path and then walk it with courage was a woman. And what they did was see something in me that I only halfway believed was there. But they spotted it, and they devised their own clever ways of helping me see it, feel it, and use it. At those times, when I was a student, a budding writer, a person struggling with my own anxiety, a teacher, a dean, and fumbling around on any number of roads I traveled, it was other women who understood what I was trying to do.
On a personal level, it’s women who have been my confidantes, my advisers, my lovers, my closest friends, and my conscience. And many of these superstar women were raising kids, breaking barriers, caring for aging parents, and taking courageous steps in their own lives. I worry sometimes that I have neglected to tell each of them what it has meant to have them stand here with me, next to me. So I’m saying it now.
Thank you to all of the women in my life, for listening to me, for believing in me, for laughing with me, for seeing the possibilities in all of us, and for always, always being a model for what humans should be. Thank you for your heart, your wisdom, your brilliance, your love, your spirit, your bravery, your creativity, your ability to do 80 things at once, and your constant efforts to be present. I am so grateful to be in your tribe.