Learning to say no

In Afghanistan there is an increasingly cultural practice called 'bacha posh' to raise girls as boys. Something families (especially poor ones) do to give girls a better future. Because in this way they will have same freedom as boys and will be allowed to study, have a job, go outside alone, have a role in society. Female gender is still unwanted in many patriarchal societies, a real burden because of economic dependency on men. A real social stigma.

Afghanistan might be an extreme, but what about women in developed countries, do we have same status as men? Are gendered cultural restrictions, that repress our aspirations, abilities and sometimes rights, still in place?

In history, as women (no matter the place), we have been forced to learn how to cook for our families, lower our gaze, look after ageing parents. This is still in practice in many cultures where men have a better status and women have little to no opportunities.
And let's be honest, also in western countries we face issues. Because despite the progress we have made and empowerment we have achieved, men and women are not treated equally.

Statistics say women are still the ones who do most of the housework, despite having full time jobs.
Women are the ones who look after ageing parents.
Women have lower-paying jobs and lower level roles
Women have less access to funds
Women are often judged when dressing in a certain way, and acting in ways men normally do.
For women it's harder to be taken seriously. Or we would have and would have had more women in politics and business.

And this goes back to family and education where girls are reminded of their roles, when helping their mothers clearing the table while fathers and brothers go outside playing (because you know, they are boys...). When they are reminded that good girls act in a certain way (is there an equivalent to such an expression for boys?). When they see their mothers looking after ageing parents. When they see their mothers accepting men having extra-conjugal relationships because they have needs, and again you know, men are men and women fear to be alone. When they read articles that say women are against each other.

Throughout history we have been reminded to say yes and sacrifice our desires. To accept the false myth that women don't collaborate. To accept that after a certain age we are no longer attractive and men are allowed to go after younger women, because this is the(ir) nature.

It is true that it takes time to unlearn customs that have been taught through centuries. But you know, it is now the time to stop this non-sense. We need to stop hiding and be who we want to be. We need to stop this vicious circle.

We are starting questioning everything.
Including the fact that other women are our enemies. They are not. They are our sisters (more to come). As Ann Friedman says, powerful women make the greatest friends.

We are starting saying no.
Look around you, and you will notice many women are saying no to things they don't feel in their hearts. They are paying attention to their mind and body.
If something doesn't feel good, don't say yes or, as #bemorewithless says 'there will be nothing left of you to say yes. You will compromise your health, peace of mind, and the joy of living your life'.
Tell the truth, don't make excuse. Don't say no because you are busy, say no because you don't want to be busy, to make room for the things you love. Like celebrating your female essence, and taking a warm petal bath after a working day while listening to some good chill out music.

Repeat: no without guilt yes without fear! Say: I will take care of myself first, I will stand up for myself, I will make my needs heard.

Feeling feelings...

✒ BY MARGHERITA ANTINORI 

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