Monday, April 02, 2007

Anatomy of a Woman

I went to see the play Anatomy of a Woman by Wole Oguntokun. I wasn't sure what to expect, because my friend who invited me didn't tell me what it was about.

Lord! A play by a man who thinks he knows what women want, I thought.

Well, as it turned out, Wole Oguntokun does believe he knows what women want. He writes a column in the arts supplement of the Sunday Guardian called The Girl Whisperer. So, does he?

According to the play, women want to be whatever they choose to be! I liked that. Yes, I truly want to be whatever I choose to be.

But sometimes being all that you choose to be can drive you 'round the bend and to the point of exhaution. This is something that I am acutely aware of at the moment. So, it was with keen interest that I read the New York Times article For Girls, It's Be Yourself, and Be Perfect, Too.

The article examines the lives of young women today (specifically in a high school in Newton, MA in the US near where I used to work) who have choices that women in previous generations didn't have, and so they really can try to do it all. However, trying to be the straight A student, athelete, community activist, good daughter, sister, friend and girlfriend at the same time is an incredibly tough task. These are "do-everything" girls.

They get receive many, and often conflicting, messages from society:
1. Bring home A’s. Do everything. Get into a top college.
2. Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t work too hard.

Fun? How do you fit in fun when you have a ton of other things to do and mountains to climb? I know I talk a lot about this apsect of women's lives a lot, but it's interesting to read something about a younger set of women and see how the pressure starts early - granted this article looks at a group of young women living in a well-to-do surburb in a developed country. While they have many opportunties to pick and choose from, they also don't have to contend with many of the issues that many young women in less affluent countries have to e.g. having their basic needs of food and shelter met, lack of water, no electicity, poor educational system, etc.

Anyway, as tough and hectic as life gets sometimes, I am so happy that I am a woman living in these times and not in any period before. I am enjoying freedoms won by hundreds of fierce, intelligent women who came before me. And I am thoroughly grateful to them for it. I may groan sometimes about having too much to do and not enough time to do it all in (a very valid concern, btw, which I'm trying to address by prioritising, taking on less things and better time management), but I would so much rather feel that I was a woman achieving - or trying to achieve - her full potential than one who, in the words of one of the young women in the article, is "a bystander in my life."

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