I want to talk about empowerment. Empowering women, to be exact. I often use an image of Wonder Woman as my avatar when I get up and don’t feel all that much like working. I take the stance, look skyward, shake myself and get to writing. I empowered myself to become a writer. No one gave me permission. Yes, I have a very supportive husband who long ago realized I wouldn’t make a million dollars in royalties and who loves me anyway. He’s my best critic, my best friend and someone who believes that each of us can make a change in our worlds. That’s empowerment.
I had a long conversation with a very dear friend who lives in Kolkata. She had recently finished my Mad Max #2 novel, UNCHARTED TERRITORY. She particularly liked how Mad Max saw something in the world around her that she could influence. She saw someone in need of help and held out her hand. She worked to help a shattered community rebuild itself. My dear friend saw how empowered Max was and how she acted. I’m pretty sure she is looking for small things she can do in her world in India to make life better for one person.
That’s all it takes. Do something for one person at a time. I’m not being a Pollyanna here but a rational person who thinks there are things in our world that need changing.
Let me cite another example. Earlier in August we went to visit the grandkids in New York state. After a full day, well full for them, we read stories to quiet a three-year-old and a five-year-old down for sleep. Eight was too early for my husband and me to go back to our hotel. We drove over to the only bar in town. For a Saturday night, it was remarkably quiet. We sat at the bar and ordered glasses of wine. Two men sat at right angles to us. At first, my husband and I talked quietly to each other. We relived the highlights of playing with the grandsons whom we don’t see nearly often enough.
One of the men stepped outside. The other one nodded. We chatted about grandkids and shared pictures. Very nice moment, until the other guy returned. His opening words were, “You look like liberals.” Really? I’m not sure what a liberal looks like, but I was in no mood for a political fight. My husband and I tried to be polite, but the drunk wouldn’t shut up. Even when the bartender walked over and told him there would be no talking politics in his bar, the man continued to run his mouth. He left again. Both his buddy and the bartender apologized. We took the high road and said, “He’s entitled to his opinion.” I would have taken him to task, except you can’t ever argue with a drunk. It’s an unfair fight , because a drunk won’t listen. When he returned, I turned my back on him even while he continued to yap at us. Finally my husband had had enough. “I don’t care what your politics are. I don’t care if they are the same as mine or not. We are each entitled to our opinions. What I care about is I came in here to have a quiet drink with my wife. And I intend to have one.” The bartender brought us refills.
How is that empowerment? What is greater than silently citing the Constitution for our right to self-expression and to our own opinions.
So back to empowering women. I haven’t forgotten where this began. Look around and see if there is a neighbor who needs help, or an organization where you can volunteer a few hours a month, or a student who needs tutoring, or a woman who needs a role model and mentor. Be that mentor you may have had when you were coming up. More important, be the mentor you didn’t have but wanted. Help save one more woman or girl by reaching out a hand. You’ll feel better when you do. And she’ll see a woman to emulate, one who understands her and one who can help her rise to a new level.
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I’m really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.