Which one are you? Or are you, as am I, both a Wayward Woman and a Boundless Dreamer?
What other labels apply to you? We hear so many of them across the web, in news articles, and TV reports. We're baby boomers, or GenXers, or Millennials; we're too old or too young or this or that. Why can't we just be... us?
This is where I confess that I use labels, also. I especially approve of the "wayward woman' label. Or, the Smart Woman Online (as in Smart Conversations). I feel that strong, inspirational labels can imbue women with energy and confidence. Rather than sharing so much of what we can't do, I promote what we can do.
The Wayward Woman label spoke to me when I was out at a flea market, five or six years ago. This is when I lived in Colorado and my husband and I loved to browse the unique, fun, unexpected items at our local flea market. As I strolled down the crowded aisle towards the back of the building, my eye immediately found an item that stopped me in my tracks.
It was a window. A large window. It was imprinted in gold lettering. The casing was old, clearly from the previous century, perhaps even from the late 1800s.
I tried to imagine where it had hung, once upon a time. I read the inscription over and over, and imagined it as part of a large, heavy door, facing the public square in some mid-sized city. I could see people look at it, turn their eyes away, hurry along, hoping no one they knew would ever have to go through that door.
The Blind Ignorance of Youth
And still, in my imagination, I saw the story of a young woman. An attractive young woman from a good family. Pretty but not strikingly so. Just attractive enough to catch the eye of the boy down the street.
I could see her laughing with her family. I could see her helping her mother cook, in a kitchen that took up the entire back end of an old house.
She was fun loving. She was making plans for her future. She would marry the boy down the street and have lots of babies. She would become a housewife and volunteer at the soup kitchen when the children were in school. She would sew curtains for the front living room. She would read the paper with her husband and offer her own thoughts.
I could see her mother, face pained with worry, anger, and embarrassment, dragging her through the door, where this window hung. Because, perhaps this young girl was too fun loving. Too trusting. Too emotional.
She would never wed that boy from down the street. His role in her confinement to this establishment would never be a blight on his life, as it would be on hers.
Instead, he would go on to become the businessman or lawyer or shop owner he was destined to be. He would marry, have a family, and she - this pretty young, vivacious, smart, but naive girl he spent so much time with - would become a memory he pushed away, every time he walked past the dark, uninviting establishment with this window on its door.
What of her? Our joyous young girl, now made sad and frightened?
Well, perhaps the sign says it all:
The Institute for Wayward Young Women | Making Bad Girls Better!
I was stunned by the sign. I was angered by the message. I tried to believe it was made in jest. I wondered if it was a joke - perhaps a place that invited smart, talented, intelligent young women to enter and learn a profession. To become "better" by learning how to be independent.
When my husband caught up with me, he spoke to me, commented on the sign, but I didn't hear him. I was busy imagining this on the wall in my office. I was busy thinking of ways to CELEBRATE a woman's waywardness. I know I had a little smile on my face, as I pushed away thoughts of what the sign might have meant all those years ago, and what I was going to turn the message into.
We are wayward, ladies. We of all ages and backgrounds. We no longer tow the line as society expects or instructs. We don't need to be 'made better' but we can learn to be better.
It's a benefit to be a bit headstrong, stubborn, willful, and disobedient. Women with these strong leadership traits go farther and succeed better. Why? Because they don't let anyone or anything stand in their way.
Big Ideas from A Woman's Big Brain
Our friend Google provides some insight into research around the differences in women's brains and men's brains. Because, of course, we all believe there must be one. There's a big different in physical anatomy, after all. There's a definite difference in hormones. Certainly, no one would dispute the fact - not fake news -FACT- that women are the child bearing members of society. It stands to reason then that women should be the child rearing members of society also, yes?
The answer there is no. But we will explore that another time, if you like.
Today, let's look at how science describes the differences in men's brains and women's brains, referred to as Neurosexism.
Lise Eliot, in this article on Nature.com tells us "The hunt for male and female distinctions inside the skull is a lesson in bad research practice".
In her review of Gina Rippon's book The Gendered Brain, Elliott reports, "...conclusive findings about sex-linked brain differences have failed to materialize. Beyond the “missing five ounces” of female brain — gloated about since the nineteenth century — modern neuroscientists have identified no decisive, category-defining differences between the brains of men and women."
Eliot, a professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and the author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, says that anyone who goes searching for innate differences betwee n the sexes won’t find them. there is ample evidence that we all bend to societal dictates. For her, The Gendered Brain is a strong message, using science to reveal,
"The brain is no more gendered than the liver or kidneys or heart." Ah! A profound thought? One that was covered a bit in an old Lipsticking post by Katie Parsons.
This is why I propose we embrace the concept of waywardness. Why hot buck society's standards and bring our innate humanity to building our big ideas into the successful businesses they can become.
We are already boundless dreamers. As women, we dream of good lives, happy lives, family, friends, accomplishments, and recognition. No different than men.
But for us, this century, this amazing century of new technology and great opportunity, invites us to dream big. It beckons us to accept our intelligence. It supports us when we throw caution to the wind and let risk surround us - all things we were discouraged from doing all those many years ago.
Best of all, in this century, in this world, you are never too old, too young, or too anything. You can be a wayward dreamer who is ready to be made better - in business. In fact, the Hudson Brewing Company has a beer called the Wayward Woman. In this day and age, that's a high compliment.
Here to help! Nurturing Big Ideas is what I do. I will bring out your inherent waywardness and help you build that big idea into a dream come true.
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