March is designated as woman’s history month, a month we celebrate, validate, and remember the remarkable achievements of women. But why is this necessary, why do we need to be intentional in recognizing women? I believe it is necessary because of the gross disparities that continue to exist.
The disparities that occur within social norms, leadership roles, career fields, pay structure and family responsibilities. To borrow a line from The Twilight Zone, “the time is now” 2019, and although it has been more than a 100 years since the woman’s rights movement began we have not fully “addressed social and institutional barriers that limit women’s rights, including family responsibilities, a lack of educational and economic opportunities, and the absence of a voice in political debates."
The barriers the women’s suffrage movement strove to remove have seen little change and that which has been made has been slow and painful. We are in an era reminiscent of the 1800s as we recognize the ramifications of sexual exploitation, a lack of agency and political representation that dishonors justice and fairness.
A discussion on gender however cannot be had without a head nod toward race and sexuality. Because these two facets also highlight the disparities that exist in our society. Race, gender, and sexuality are the three characteristics voted most likely to impact one’s ability to succeed and ironically have no impact on talent, skill or intelligence. Woman’s history month brings to mind as does Black history month, the deficits in our country; that which education and work ethic does not remedy, reminding us yet again that meritocracy is a myth.
As a therapist I've learned how social, political and cultural occurrences have influenced psychology. It wasn’t that long ago that my field was saturated with men, white men (mostly with beards) lauded as pioneers in psychology. Yet, though there were many women who contributed to the field, due to the zeitgeist, they were not recognized or even deemed worthy of recognition.
I'm thankful the field has progressed since then. To quote Virginia Slims “we’ve come a long way baby.” Therapy (thankfully) is no longer practiced in the homogenous contextless way it was then. The advent of feminist theory, relational theory, and others have created pathways for a more culturally competent way of treatment.
Today you have the option to work with a therapist who uses treatments that address the societal and systematic inequities that promote and sustain symptoms of acute and chronic stress-- all which impact your day-to-day living.
So, despite how much further we have to go in balancing the scales of justice, do you want to hear some good news? The good news is there has been progress and so today I choose to celebrate our progress and continue in the revolution.