“Women are more powerful than most of us give ourselves credit for. When we actually decide to stop the jealousy and the finger pointing, and band together to laugh with one another and understand one another, it’s like a beautiful firework display on the Fourth of July in Vegas, baby!”― Helen Edwards
Tina de Keyzer-van Bruggen, is a Podcaster, Podcast Host of her own show The Women’s Table, Women Empowerment Coach, NLP Practioner, and Interviewer. She earned her Psychology degree in 2005. After being a Management Assistant for more than 30 years, Tina decided in 2018 that she needed a change in her profession. In 2018, she started several coaching training courses and in September 2020, she became a certified Coach. Tina was born in Surinam and moved to the Netherlands when she was 10 years old with her mother and her sister after her parents got divorced. She is married and in 2019 she moved from the Amsterdam area to a small-town village in the North of The Netherlands.
I would like to tell you about women empowerment, sisterhood and all the incredible things happening when women start supporting each other. Women empowerment, sisterhood, and feminism, what do these words mean to me? Let me start with feminism. What is feminism? To me feminism is women being free to choose whatever the hell they want to choose, as long as it is their choice, their decision. If you are married and you are a stay-at-home mum, that is just fine, as long as it is YOUR choice. If you have four children and you want to become a CEO of a multinational company, working 80 hours a week, requiring your kids be raised by a nanny – hey, no judgement here, as long as it is YOUR choice. If you are single and you don’t have kids and you don’t want them either and you want to work 3 days a week, that’s fine with me too, as long as it is YOUR choice. And we women should support each other’s choices and decisions without judging each other.
The double standards for men and women are shocking, when a man sleeps around, he’s a hero, he’s the man, he’s a playboy, he can get any woman he wants. When a woman sleeps around, the slut-shaming starts, she is up to no good. A man who makes it to the top has studied and worked hard to get there, a woman however sleeps around to get to the top, a man who is drunk is funny, a woman who is drunk is shameful. I was always under the impression that women don’t support each other. That’s what I was told – women are mean to one another; women don’t support each other. So, you look with suspicion to other women, and they look with suspicion to you and that’s not a good base to uplift each other. And then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because on the work floor, women gossip about each other, they are mean to each other and then you say to yourself, see? It is true.
But it is not. You see, ever since I became a female coach, recording podcasts with women, reading books about feminism, I understand so much more and I have come to a different conclusion.
I recently read the book Woman, by Lucy Woesthoff (she is a British Author who lives in The Netherlands), and I would share with you the part that really touched me: She talks about her love for her fellow women, because she loves women, and she thinks we deserve to hear it more often how awesome we are.
Women are a force of nature and sometimes we have a complicated relationship with one another, but we always look out for each other: in the lady’s room in the club when we need a tampon, we ask for a text message when we arrive home safely after a girl’s night out. We want to connect with each other, we listen to each other, we comfort each other despite culture and language differences: women are not mean to each other, we look out for each other, we are a team!
We should support each other: all women should support all women. You cannot call yourself a feminist when you fight for “some” women’s rights, while excluding specific groups of other women. If you do so, you are fighting for your own rights and not for equal rights for all women and that’s not feminism, that is privilege. For me that is what true feminism is all about: it’s all about women supporting, uplifting and empowering all women, regardless of color, race, class, social status and/or age.
Women from the past and the present have been fighting for many of the privilege’s we women enjoy today. Some have given their lives fighting for them, others have been mocked, humiliated, abused and raped. We owe it to them; we owe it to each other to fight for all women’s rights.
Let me name some of those incredible women: Angelina and Sarah Grimke, two sisters who lived around 1830, and the most famous and notorious women in the States. Not only were they against slavery they believed the Africans, the black slaves, were equal to the white people. A lot of people were against slavery, but only a few genuinely believed that black people were equal to white people. In 1838, they stopped talking in public because of all the threats they received.
Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Anne Frank, Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, Betty Ford, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou… Let me share a few quotes that gutsy women Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, talk about in their book, The Book of Gutsy Women:
“They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came thousands of voices. Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.” ― Malala Yousafzai.
“We do need hope-of course we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.” ― Greta Thunberg.
“I do not believe that being first lady should prevent me from expressing my ideas… why should my husband’s job or yours prevent us from being ourselves? Being ladylike does not require silence.” ― Betty Ford.
“If you give us a chance, women can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” ― Ann Richards.
And this one is really, truly my favorite:
“Everyone thinks women should be thrilled when we get crumbs, and I want women to have the cake, the icing, and the cherry on top, too.” ― Billy Jean King.
Let me tell you the one thing those women had or have in common. They spoke up, they spoke their minds during difficult times, sometimes with their lives at stake. They paved the way for us women today. And yes, we have come a long way, but no, we’re not there yet.
Incredible things have happened for women in the past because of the sacrifices some women have made. And incredible things are still happening, because there are still women out there who make those things happen. So, these are my questions to you, my fellow women, my sisters – do you want to make a difference? Would you like to be remembered? Because I can tell you this about me: I want to make a difference and I want to be remembered as a proud feminist and as a fighter for all women’s rights.
And that is why I do all of this, that’s why I became a coach and that’s why I started my podcast the Women’s Table, to give women a voice, a seat at the table. So, let’s make some noise, let our voices be heard. We don’t just owe it to other women, we also owe it to ourselves!
I would like to end with the ending of one of my podcasts: “Women, do we really act like crabs in a basket?” Let me tell you about the “crabs in a basket” phenomenon: when there is one crab in a basket, he can get out on his own, when there are more crabs in a basket and one crab is trying to get out, the other crabs will try to pull him down, which “means” women cannot work together.
BUT the opposite of working against each other is, of course, working together: Sisterhood. So, what is sisterhood? Sisterhood is about sticking up for women, supporting and uplifting them. Sisterhood is about fighting for freedom and against patriarchy. Sisterhood is about giving women a voice, a seat at the table, being open towards each other while still being yourself. That’s how to get past the judgements of others. Sisterhood is about women empowering women; it is about showing your true self and supporting and encouraging other women to do the same. We (all women) have the right to be who we are and who we want to be without judging one another. Sisterhood is about freeing yourself and, in the process, helping to free other women as well. Help them get out of the basket into the free world, because it is wonderful out there.
Thank you for reading my story.
Soso lobi (nothing but love),