By Tim Hayes
“’What do we do now?’
“Go back and watch any movie and you will see this line over and over again. And I dread reading scripts that have no women involved in their creation because inevitably I get to that part where the girl turns to the guy and she goes, ‘What do we do now?’
“Now, do you know any woman in any crisis situation who has absolutely no idea what to do? I mean, they tell people in crisis, little children, that if you’re in trouble, talk to a woman. It’s ridiculous that a woman wouldn’t know what to do.”
So said actress Reese Witherspoon in a recent acceptance speech for some sort of national award. And she’s 1,000 percent correct.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a meme on Facebook that caused me to chuckle, then think. It read:
“Ladies, what’s your makeup routine? I’m looking for a new foundation, preferably liquid, but still matte, and now that the men have stopped reading, we riot at midnight.”
I immediately responded: “Ladies, please do. The day when women rule the world cannot come soon enough.”
The realization that the female of the species carries the true lionhearted leadership, the emotional toughness during tragedy, the implacable focus amid crisis, and yet the tenderness needed to help others heal, came early for me via watching my mother over the course of my upbringing.
During a stretch of about four years, back when I was finishing high school and entering college, her side of the family suffered multiple losses – some anticipated due to age and deteriorating health, others coming as severe surprises and shocks. She stepped into the breach every time – and in multiple instances since – offering steady support, clear decision-making, and open arms to all who needed them.
She’s barely cracks the five-foot measurement, but she looms so incredibly large across our widespread family.
I believe I’m married to her successor. Over the past few years, my wife has had to help her family contend with the sudden stroke, lengthy aftermath of treatment, and ultimate passing of her father.
Soon afterward, her mother began a series of health setbacks, temporary recoveries, and complicated treatment protocols that continue today. I’ve watched her take responsibility for so many aspects of her parents’ lives – and all with the steadfast dedication, the uncomplaining fulfillment of duty, and the sweet disposition that made me fall for her in the first place.
All too often, people fall lazily back on stupid, insulting stereotypes that women naturally get hysterical under pressure, or fall to pieces when faced with difficult choices. That is such a bucket of horseshit.
When the crap hits the fan, I hope there’s a woman around, to remain rational. To evaluate a situation using both brains and heart. To make a short-term decision with an eye to the long-term impact.
I’ve seen this carried out first-hand in business, in education, in service industries, in non-profits, and in neighborhood homes. It’s crazy to think otherwise.
Reese called it. It is ridiculous to think that a woman wouldn’t know what to do, in any situation. I grew up watching a woman prove that to be true. Now I’m married to one who does the same thing, with every bit of grace, compassion, and bad-assery required.
Women are towers of strength. And they deserve every bit of praise, gratitude, recognition, reward, and love we can muster – and then some.
Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Love. You’re the best.