My motivation for undertaking this project comes from my personal interest as a woman, as a mother, and as a psychoanalyst who, for all intents and purposes, listens to women's secrets for a living.
As a 43-year old woman, I am consistently awed by the changes in perception and understanding of women brought to light by the female baby boomers who precede my generation. For instance, the information on menopause now available to women has enabled the archaic, narrow definition of menopause to become more alive and sophisticated. The gradual empowerment and individualization of women in our society interests me because it affects my sense of myself within my gender.
As the mother of a delicious nine year old daughter, I am both excited and fearful about the challenges she will face with her generation, and want to shepherd her in the most loving and informed way I am able. While she will feel more liberated than her grand- and great-grandmothers, she will also face AIDS, and an environment of hypersexualized media images. As she makes her way through her teen years, in an effort to counterbalance the impressions made by unrealistic representations of women, I would love for her to be influenced by the realities of all sorts of women. I wish that as a young woman I had had a collection of stories to introduce me to some of the possible ways of navigating being female. Being exposed to a range of experience would help my daughter find her own special way of maturing without feeling oppressed to conform to the notion that there is a "right" way.
Lastly, the bulk of my motivation comes from the clients with whom I have been privileged to work. As an analyst I am repeatedly moved by the narratives of my female clients. There is an undeniable pattern of how shame, and fear of being alone in one's experience interrupts the flow of healthy development. Sometimes in a given week I'll hear several women report the same suffering or dilemma, each of them embarrassed by the belief that they are alone in their struggles, when in actuality, they have a huge community of others silently going through something similar. When I share this with them, it normalizes their experience, and the ensuing relief and sense of belonging allows healthy development to not only resume, but to improve. Women who share the realities of their lives in this study will be able to have the same valuable impact on others.