Our collective voices… would it look like an inverted bell curve?

I don’t always get so heady in my thoughts, but this one struck me with a “hmmm…” Of course it could have been the sound of the vacuum cleaner I was using at the time but I was thinking about my mother, my partner’s mother, a great aunt, and several others who had passed away. I caught myself chuckling at the one thing they all had in common – If they heard it in their heads then it was perfectly alright for it to also come out of their mouths – whenever, wherever. I know a number of women who live with dread anticipating each passing birthday. I am NOT one of those. I am looking at birthdays as though they are marks on the volume button of my stereo. With each turn my voice gets stronger and stronger. Gotta love getting older, but it has been a long road of learning. It was this that made me consider the bell curve. The bell curve is described as a visualization of “norming” trends. I considered how my mother, my partner’s mother, great aunt, and the others seemed to have found their voices with age. This led me to the inverted bell curve. Now I’m going to generalize a little here and speak in terms of the evolution of female voices, specifically. It is an interesting perspective to ponder (in my opinion)…

The birth of a baby is joyful but the proof of life is actually baby’s first scream which triggers an eruption of elation and energy all around. Uncontrolled outpouring of baby’s first expressions. It is a sign of health and strong lungs, as well as an entrance filled with no restrictive norms. It’s all about baby! The early years are spent helping them find their voice, anticipating every new sound, and encouraging them to use their words. We remind the little ones that if they don’t use their words nobody will know what they want or need. But at some point, we change the message to “children should be seen and not heard.” We stop living for every new utterance and start giving cues as to what their words should sound like (and let’s not forget… how often they should use them and how loud they shouldn’t be). The mixed messages just keep on coming. As they grow toward womanhood we we let them know how proud we are when they are recognized for their strength and courage… as long as it isn’t in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or in front of the wrong people (in our opinion). And while their psyche is incorporating all of this wisdom, we start introducing them to the concept of mediocre. Not intentionally, of course, but the message is still there. We teach the meaning of life as it relates to our success in relationships, friendships, marriage, motherhood, a “good” employee, etc… We push them to be smart (but not too smart), strong (but not too strong), ambitious (but, well, you get the picture), proud… “Be yourself!” How do they know which one?

Let’s be honest. I am not about blaming or crediting any one particular group or gender with how our paths have brought us to where we are. Societal and cultural norms, familial history, “the times,” etc. have contributed to where we are today. And although we like to credit our mothers with our challenges, all those who went before us were the products of those who went before them. I am just asking us to look at the future and change the norms we have learned to cling to. I am not suggesting that we should try to emulate the “normal” bell curve, but rather try to give our little girls a progressively rising line that extends far beyond the passing on of those wise and wonderful women who have gone before. If we can do this, they, too, will rise!

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One thought on “Our collective voices… would it look like an inverted bell curve?

  1. sarah

    I loved your musings!!!

    And what you wrote was so true!!! I especially loved the part where you mentioned the older people got the more likely they were to just say what was in their head…without any kind of filter. I’m already finding that to be true…my older years could get really scary.

    And I agree with you about growing older. Sure the physical limitations are a drag, but I will take that as a trade off for losing all the worries I had for things that used to seem like “life or death” concerns in my younger years. Funny how the same things that used to be humongous deals in my 20’s turned into hassles in my 30’s, then switched to just issues in my 40’s, and I’m sure will be viewed as old annoyances in my 50s. I guess there is something to be said about that grey hair and the wisdom that goes along with it.

    And I also loved your point that we need to find a way to help the young women around us find their place in this world that is does not fit someone else’s standard but their own. That is a hard one. But I guess if we each try with the women around us, an impact will be made. Who was it who made up the rules about the normal code we are all supposed to follow anyway.

    Reply

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