“If you’re not happy, you’re not grateful enough.” “Someone else is happy with less than what you have.” “Count your blessings not your problems.” “Gratitude turns what we don’t have... into what we do have.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Awhile back while gathering with some friends a few rants were made about husbands not helping out enough when a recently divorced friend bursts out, “Hey! At least you have a husband. Be grateful!”
Sure. Yup. We could. We could brush off the endless sport-watching nights while women are doing the kid’s homework because HEY! At least our children can go to school! We could be grateful that women do most of the housework, because, HEY! At least we have a house to clean! And I’m devoutly grateful that I CAN pick up coats, cups, and shoes all day because HEY! At least I have arms!!
And believe me, I’ve been an accomplice to this ridiculous bottom-feeding myself. It's a common plague. In college I read about African-Americans that were actually against the civil rights movement pleading, “Hey! Things are good, we should be grateful! At least we’re not slaves anymore! Don’t rock the boat now! They are letting us go to our own school now!” Our "I'm so grateful” mantras create self-inflicted cages.
Yes! Of course, we in America are “blessed,” comparatively. But this type of dogmatic gratitude is not so much about happiness as it is about instilling contentment. It’s about accepting bread-crumbs. It’s about shaming us into less. “If you’re not happy, then obviously you are not grateful enough. You selfish, selfish woman!”
It’s quite clever, actually.
They take away our power and then give us back bite-size rations like “letting” us vote and “letting” us work. But when we demand equal pay or equal value – well, now we’ve gone just too damn far! And the shaming begins: How dare you want more? Who do you think you are? You just can’t be happy, can you? You just aren’t grateful enough. Then we feel like shit because they’ve made us feel like we’ve asked for “more than our fair share.”
We all know the usual suspects:
“No, we don’t pay you the same, but Hey! You at least you can BE a doctor/CEO/mechanical engineer now.... be grateful!”
“Yes, we are killing your planet, but look! We gave you recycling bins! Be thankful you can do your part!”
“Yes, we’ve created this crazy world! But, look! We’ve invented Prozac to help you cope! You should be happy!”
Well, Thank you, Sir, may I have another?
Well, you know what?
Fuck 'em! Women have NEVER had our fair share. And NO! This life is NOT good enough. I don’t care if women can now vote or run for office; it’s still not good enough! And yes, I "have a husband" but, quite frankly, "having a spouse" is not enough. I want - and expect an incredibly involved, engaged and contributing partner. Period!
You see? Being grateful is a self-whipping posts that keeps us on our knees and ever-so-thankful for the meager bread-crumbs they give us. Why? Because if we’re kept in gratitude – we will never ask for more. Because you see, my dear good people, the opposite of gratitude is not ego, it is empowerment! And that is exactly what the world does not want us to know.
Look, I am happy as the next person for clean running water and constitutional rights. But these freedoms and luxuries are simply a side-effect of being born in America. That’s just how it is. Does it suck that most people are born in more impoverished, violent or oppressed countries? Damn right it does. Which is EXACTLY WHY we in women in America, or should I say ALL first-world countries should quit sniveling over how grateful we are for our “wonderful life” and start using this privilege and freedom and power to kick-some-injustice-ass!! Stop being grateful for the sun, your bed, and waking up this morning and put on some political combat boots!! We deserve a better life - each and every one of us. We deserve equality, safety, choice, empowerment and help around the house. Each and every one of us. So, NO, we don't want your prozac, or sexist advertisements, or political table-scraps We want the entire cake and yes, eat it too! We want to soak in it, slather in it, take pleasure it it!
WHY? Because we’re ENTITLED. We’re entitled to a healthy planet, to safety, to support, to equal pay, to our opinions, to birth control, to healthy school lunches, to help around the house, and to better love. EVERY WOMAN on the planet is ENTITLED.... and WE WOMEN are just the people to do it. The Dali Lama once said, “The world will be saved by the western woman!” (Hell yeah!) But to do so, we need to stop journaling about how grateful we are to sing in the cage and start kicking down the freaking door! Our lavish American life should be a launch-pad not a Scarlet Letter! Yes, we are "soooooo blessed!" We get it! NOW use this abundant life as a platform for powerful change; a spring board to launch political, soulful and culture-changing grenades while screaming Ani Difranco’s song lyrics, “I like apples and I’m not afraid of snakes.” Get off of your knees, out of the petticoat and start feeling ENTITLED to MORE! Stand, rise and clinch your feminine power in your hands and LEAD!!! The worlds needs much help. A hand to hold, a right to vote, and a heart to fight against injustice, racism, sexism, and abuse that happens every single day on this planet. We women in first-world countries are the closest ones to the launch-pad. We have an enormous amount of privilege and with privilege comes responsibility. Not to gather around the dinner table and sing praise, BUT to gather up the power to make greater CHANGE! Burn your gratitude journal and take your freedom, power, education, ideas, passion, capabilities and create a world where ALL WOMEN can be thankful!!! The women of the world are entitled and are waiting! "The world will be saved by the western woman!" Go save it!