I read Rita Mae Brown's "Ruby Fruit Jungle" in the fifth grade. No, it wasn't required reading for ten-year-olds; I was just on a fast track with the fascination of ingesting fiction and my (very wise) mother allowed me to read according to my natural curiosity.
In the book, a young woman is attempting to come to terms with her sexuality. Realizing she is a lesbian, she discovers that more than anything, more than a connection with another girl or woman, more than being all that she can be and more, she simply wants someone who is caring to talk to.
She turns to those she loves and, even before she opens her mouth to speak, knows it will not be the kind of conversation she is looking for.
It makes me wonder, now that I'm entering the period of my life when most of the identity issues young women struggle with in their early years are behind me, how many women out there are suffering in silence; whether it's their sexuality, their body image, relationship issues, family issues, or a sense of not knowing where to step next on the path of stones leading toward their future.
How many of us, women entering a later stage of life, think about mentoring younger women? In our society we are constantly fed messages to compete with each other as women (I am not saying men do not receive these same messages by the way).
Thinner, richer, better hair? Smarter, wittier, multilingual? Professor, author, mom of five perfect children? Warmer, sunnier, better at baking? Computer genius, business owner, feeds her children only organic?
We try and try to bond but so often end up competing with other women. For younger women, the sense of social isolation can be intense, as we are genetically designed to bond with groups of other other women and rely on them on a daily basis.
While the tearing apart of community-based activities affects all age groups and both genders, I feel strongly that women looking to mentor other women would create a quiet revolution both for the mentors and the mentees.