As we start embracing an era of equality I think there is something so important about women supporting women. As a woman myself, I constantly have this irrational fear of judgement; I always need to look my best, be my best. I can't show weakness or emotions or be "too girly".
Women are often raised to be a certain way, feel certain things, and understand society from a particular point of view. Social expectations of women are ingrained into us as young girls when we play kitchen and wedding. We learn to show emotions and that, as a woman, it's ok to cry. We learn what we should expect men to be like and how we should act around them. We learn to always walk in groups, to never go home alone, and to always be on the lookout for predators.
As we grow, we learn what should really be feared and what shouldn't but these social norms still impact us. For instance, no matter how certain I am that a place is safe, such as crossing my college campus, I still look over my shoulder, keep my parents on call, and walk a little faster. My fear is unfounded, for the most part, because I've never actually had a bad call in the dark. I don't get drunk or do drugs or get into random cars. I think the really kicker is that I shouldn't have to be so vigilant. If I had been raised a boy, I wouldn't fear something as simple as walking home.
Social norms also affect jobs and employment. Male-dominated fields like engineering and business used to be unreachable for women... unless you were there to work as a secretary or something. Nowadays, the foundation that women before us put down allows myself and fellow females to step up into these fields and become leaders in our own rights. We are proud to push boundaries even farther, to open up the space even more, and to increase equality though pay, experience, and treatment.
But not every woman wants to be a career woman, not every woman wants to defy social norms, and that is the rub of the matter. Because other woman like myself should not be bashing these women for wanting something different. There is enough against women already, women do not need to be against women. I believe that every woman's goal is a worthy one, whether that be stay-at-home mom or CEO, both are acceptable and extraordinary accomplishments. A woman who wants to raise her kids is not setting the gender back, in fact, I'd say she is carrying it forward. By instilling new social norms about equality and independence into the next generation, she ensures that the problems we face today slowly dissipate into an intolerant past.
Women who put others down are just as bad as their male counterparts. Two wrongs do not make a right, and genders should not use gender as an excuse for speaking intolerably. While not as prevalent, men also have many social norms attached to themselves. They should not show emotion, they should be strong, they should look a certain way. As a woman, we should understand and realize that these constructs are still alive and kicking and we should respect men who break these social norms, not put them down. If we do that, we are no better than all those other men in the past who did it to us.
The future is female... and male and human and unknowing. I don't know what comes next, as times keep changes we must change with them. By being open to all people, regardless of their backgrounds, we create a space that allows them to flourish and develop the future for the better. Life will never be perfect, the future will always be uncertain, but each individual person can choose to use their life to crease a pocket of better in a sea of bad. We can choose to make small changes now in order to have big impact later, all we need to do is take a leap of faith and a step of courage.