Both men and women celebrate Independence Day today in the U.S., but there are not-so-subtle differences in how we observe our freedom. One discrepancy might be that the women clean the dishes after the barbecue while men watch baseball. While each gender is likely bonding among themselves in these ritual practices, we rarely if ever see the situation reversed—at least not in traditional families.

I suppose we could go on strike, insisting that men do the clean up while we go the movies to see Wonder Woman. But to many of us, it’s really not that important that we have our way in such trivial matters. We’d rather keep peace than rock the boat.

On a larger scale, just how are we to celebrate our freedom and autonomy if we live in more-or-less subservient rolls, not just at home but in the office as well?

First, we can pause to think just how far we’ve progressed in attaining our equality to men in every aspect of our lives. If that progress as been less than we had hoped—since yesterday or a year ago or even since we were girls—we can focus on exactly how we can change the status quo to bring more justice and balance into our lives on a personal level.

Here are a few suggestions of how we can become more independent:

  • Assert ourselves more in all our relationships. This doesn’t mean expressing anger or aggression but simply stating our needs—openly, directly, and with confidence.
  • Express our values, thoughts and beliefs without apology. At the same time, we can be open to others’ ideas when they are different than ours, respecting their freedom as much as our own.
  • Love ourselves enough to value our rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and to protect those rights in daily practice, setting boundaries before they are threatened.
  • Defend women’s rights to liberty and equality, not only when we vote, but in showing compassion for other women and children who are underserved, by coming to their aid and defense in public forums.

We’ve all heard the refrain in the National Anthem “the land of the free and the home of the brave.We’ve been brave for centuries in so many selfless ways. It’s time to take our rightful place—beside men not behind them—in creating a bright future for our loved ones, our country, the world…and ourselves.

Mary Kathryn “M.K.” Jones

Writer/Producer/Speaker, Founder of Women Who Walk the Talk™