Have you read The Artist’s Way? Julia Cameron talks in there about shadow artists – those who subjugate their own artistry and creativity on behalf of another artist who (she does not specify but I will) is usually a MAN.
Certainly we women all know about the various loads we carry by nature of our gender – the domestic load, where women do, on average, 2 hours more domestic work than men each day, and are also responsible for delegating and supervising it.
So you’ll hear men describing looking after their own children as “babysitting”.
You’ll see men oblivious to domestic emergencies, mess and disarray and doing nothing until it’s drawn to their attention.
You’ll see them offer to “help” with housework and childcare in their own homes, as if it couldn’t possibly be THEIR actual work as much as it is anyone’s, and, then, adhering to the letter of the law, doing only the specific thing they were asked to do – the bare minimum – before returning to whatever Important Male Task they were engaged in before.
Then there’s the emotional load – the emotional heavy-lifting, as I call it, in which women are responsible for identifying relationship problems, articulating them, and managing the resolution.
Women are expected to suck up their own rage, grief and disappointment in the service of keeping the peace. They must placate the man if he feels defensive about whatever it is (which he often does).
Then they are accused of nagging/whining/making their emotions annoyingly sacred/never being happy with what they have/having to process EVERY little thing instead of just carrying on with a smile/ etc.
This is all generalization, obv., but true nonetheless. It is all, also, so blinkin’ fundamental that it is no surprise it extrapolates itself into the workplace as well.
Certainly, artistic and creative people are generally held to be more socially astute, liberal and open-minded than the average bear, but actually these societal structures are deeply ingrained and pervasive and occur in every realm of life.
So where does this demoralizing picture leave us? Feeling that 1. we’ll EXPLODE if we don’t protest and speak up for ourselves, and 2. whatever we say, it will be WRONG, in our eyes and in the other person’s eyes, and will only make things worse.
It’s a painful and disheartening place to be. And it can change.
And when I say “it can change” – yes it can, and it may, but what is for SURE is that we can change. Which is NOT to say that the situation is acceptable, or our “fault”, but IS to say that while we hold so tightly to our assumptions, fears and beliefs, nothing will change for us.
So here’s what I’m going to do – for the next five weeks, I’m going to address the stages in this process of finding, claiming and using our voice.
(These are the stages we address when we work together in the three-month coaching container, so this will be a brief taste of that.)
We’ll look at:
Who am I when I use my voice and when I don’t use my voice?
Who do I want to be in the world? What do I truly want to say?
What is worth saying, to me?
When is it appropriate to speak, and when to stay quiet?
How can I remove the emotion and find a way to say it?
Can I take the consequences? If they’re severe or unexpected, how shall I manage them?
And much more! The goal, dear heart, is simple – peace and freedom for each of us and for the world in which we live.