As much as we would like to believe that the gender playing field has been leveled, we only have to look at the past year to see that inequalities still exist. The #METOO movement, the anger on both sides of the political divide around the Kavanaugh hearings, only exemplify the gap of understanding between the sexes. I cannot profess to speak to male gender role expectations, yet I do believe they are as crippling for men as female role expectations are for women.
Over twenty years ago, I was introduced to a poem by Patricia Lynn Reilly entitled Imagine a Woman. This poem came to me at the right time, speaking to me at the deepest levels. Each stanza of this poem reflects a woman free of any cultural stereotypes.
Even though this poem addresses women I have included reflection questions for men to enable them to consider the women in their lives, and to determine if any of these stanzas present a challenge to them. I hope someday a man will write a poem entitled imagine a Man.What a gift that would be for men and women to reflect on the impact of male gender role stereotyping.
Imagine a Woman by Patricia Lynn Reilly
Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is woman. A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories. Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.
Imagine a woman who believes she is good. A woman who trusts and respects herself. Who listens to her needs and desires, and meets them with tenderness and grace.
Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past’s influence on the present. A woman who has walked through her past. Who has healed into the present.
Imagine a woman who authors her own life. A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf. Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and to her wisest voice.
Imagine a woman who names her own gods. A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness. Who designs her own spirituality and allows it to inform her daily life.
Imagine a woman in love with her own body. A woman who believes her body is enough just as it is. Who celebrates her body and its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.
Imagine a woman who honors the face of the Goddess in her changing face. A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom. Who refuses to use precious energy disguising the changes in her body and life.
Imagine a woman who values the women in her life. A woman who sits in circles of women. Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.
Imagine yourself as this woman.
Reflections for Women:
What stanzas touch you? Why?
Where are you on the road to becoming the woman in each stanza? What barriers keep you from living out any of the stanzas?
Reflections for Men.
Looking at the stanzas, do the women in your life embody all of them?
Are there stanzas that you find challenging? Why?
Are there stanzas you wish women would embody? How would that look?