A Renaissance of Female Empowerment: Breaking the Spell - By Carre Otis

A Renaissance of Female Empowerment: Breaking the Spell - By Carre Otis

There is a revolution under way. Women have received the memo.

Feminine oppression has been our reality for far too long. Thousands of years of enslavement and our gender “roles” have been normalized. Expected. Unquestioned.

It never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think I have flushed out all of the areas where gender inequality exists in my own life, just when I think I’ve taken all the necessary steps to avoid any lingering gender power-imbalance in my relationships, my work, my outlooks...I look a little deeper and realize: It’s still there.

Just a few years ago, as a wife to an extraordinary man who is a loving ally—kind, communicative, and on board with helping me fight the good fight—I realized I had unconsciously assumed old-fashioned roles even in our relationship. I began to wonder why I was the one that made every meal, did all the laundry, cleaned the house, and packed the lunches. It wasn’t even something we’d discussed or explicitly agreed upon. It was just what I was expected to do. It was assumed. And somehow, silently. I had agreed to it. After all, it’s what was modeled for me. And it was modeled for my husband too. The realization stunned me: Now we were modeling it for our daughters.

Photographer: Peter Lindbergh

Our girls—like all children—are very observant and attuned. So, I’m constantly monitoring what they are exposed to and doing my best to be thoughtful about what things they should have more exposure to and what things I should limit. It’s pretty easy to be conscientious about some stuff: Less screen-time and more nature. But what about the implicit messaging they’re receiving from me and their dad?

My daughters attend a wonderful Waldorf school where exploration and play are encouraged as access to learning; technology and media is not the end-all-be-all with regard to their education. We have hit an unprecedented moment in time. Technology is steadily taking up more and more space in our lives. (As I type this on my laptop, my cell phone is sending me text and email and who-knows-what-other notifications, my iChat messages are popping up on the lower corner of my screen, and my DVR is recording a documentary I can’t wait to watch after the kids’ bedtime tonight). Attempting to give my children a chance to actually be children seems like the most organic way for me to parent. And I am grateful we have the resources to educate them in an alternative way. I’m trying to protect the innocence of their childhood for as long as I can, while simultaneously teaching them how to be safe and self-protective as they grow into young women facing a world that will be theirs.

Photographer:  Nicole McCluskey

Photographer: Nicole McCluskey

So, my husband and I have reevaluated all the automatic ways we slip into outdated “norms.” It’s an ongoing and ever-evolving process. And it’s one I’ve found worth committing to—for each other, for our girls, and for my own personal growth and development. I want to be conscious and aware of how these gender stereotypes—perpetuated by the media, by pornography, by our nightly news—impact my marriage, our daughters, and my relationship to myself.

There’s lots of work to be done, and yet there’s some celebration to be had too. Men and women are speaking out and rising up. Questioning. Confronting. Naming. It’s time to get really curious about the how’s and why’s and the what-now’s, both in our communities and within our personal lives. We can break the spell!

So, in honor of International Women’s Month, I invite you to join me in this renaissance of empowerment. Let’s keep holding each other accountable; let’s keep waking ourselves up; let’s keep joining hands and walking—dancing!—together in solidarity.

Calvin Klein Ad, Photographer: Bruce Weber

To learn more about Carre Otis please check her out here:
Instagram: iamcarreotis

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