A Workshop for Women in Their Forties

At the Women in Their Forties Workshop, which I co-led with Diane Balser1 in early 2014, we talked about how much we had done and what substantial women we had become. We know a lot of things, have tried a lot of things, have made a lot of mistakes, and have lost a lot of relationships. We have become more forgiving. We’ve gone back to old friends we got discouraged with. We are more okay with people just as they are. We know how to run things and build things and work hard. We know something about resting and have learned a lot about health. We know how to help our families function. We know how to care for aging parents. We walk down the street in our neighborhoods and know many people, and have for a long time.

We do not feel as hopeful about the world as we did when we were younger, but some of our earlier hopefulness was an odd kind of hopefulness that can come from an assumption that the younger generation will do better. We actually have more reason to be hopeful about our lives now than ever before. We have a clearer picture of ourselves and what we can do, and can’t do yet. We have a clearer picture of the oppressive system and how much work it actually takes to change things. We are less likely to pretend that we don’t have struggles.

We were young girls at the beginning and middle of the second wave of the women’s movement.2 Our generation got to grow up with the gains from that movement and with a particular sense of ourselves as women. We celebrated Diane’s seventieth birthday at the workshop. People told story after story about how Diane and the women’s movement had “raised” them. I am forever thankful to Diane, and all the other women who came before me, who fought so that the women’s movement could exist. Thank you, Diane and older women. Thank you, Mom, for fighting sexism and fighting for yourself.

We still need to discharge about all the things we tried that did not work the way we hoped, or that took much more effort than we understood they would. We are discharging the discouragement. We are unstoppable. The world should watch out!

Jenny Sazama
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of women

1 Diane Balser is the International Liberation Reference Person for Women.
2 The “second wave of the women’s movement” began in the early 1960s in the United States and spread throughout the Western world. In the United States, it lasted through the early 1980s. Later it became a worldwide movement that was strong in Europe and parts of Asia. First-wave feminism had focused mainly on suffrage and overturning legal obstacles to gender equality. Second-wave feminism broadened the debate to a wide range of issues, including sexuality, the family, the workplace, reproductive rights, and violence against women.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00