The last straw-woman

[Three second warning, this post falls into the “everything” end of the tagline spectrum…those who have not had their first cup of java, brace yourselves or come back when fortified.] 🙂

This was a topic I had planned to discuss about two months ago.  And, I had a different title in mind.straw woman one

However, as life often does, new events and ideas cross the horizon and metamorphize into a another organism altogether. This is what happened with this topic.

In my view, based on all my background and thinking about the development of humanity to date, confining people to boxes and then heaping abuse upon them, literally boxing them in and boxing with them, is the sign of limited analysis and more an expression of pain, than anything else.

I am not defined by any convention, and certainly not single or even multiple label(s).  I am Beth, no more no less.  My gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, political stance, education, nationality, are all features of my gestalt, but cannot be used to identify or freeze me in place so those who cannot help but find fault with one or more of them, are easily able to push me around, either literally or figuratively.

Bill O’Reilly was railing against “gangsta rappers”, including among them Kanye* West.  As Alex Wagner pointed out astutely, Kanye shares little if anything in common with Biggy and Tupac, apart from being a man.  Oh, yes, and being a man while black.  Huh.  Kanye is known for sartorial sophistication, being a wine connoisseur and in general, promoting the arts, creativity and celebration of the good life.  I barely know him apart from his famous relationship to the Kardashians, but, I have no reason to believe otherwise, than he is a good-hearted and -headed person who is successful.  So, isn’t he a standard bearer for the American dream?

Then of course, I heard Michele Bachmann malapropping on the topic of “sad gayness” being of satan, the supposed mental disorder that afflicts the LGBT community and their “bullying” of straight people. Say what? On what grounds does Ms. Bachmann make that diagnosis? What is her qualification to do so, recognized by any but the most benighted isolates steeped in abysmal ignorance?

Well then, further to earlier discussions, this week saw the 51st vote in Congress against the Affordable Care Act, bolstered by apochryphal anecdotes from people with cancer who supposedly lost their fabulous pre-ACA policies (when the insurance companies were the arbiters of who lives and dies) and now they cannot afford to treat their cancer, due, of course to the President (dare I mention it, whose chief crime? Being — yes, you guessed it — a black man).  We come full circle, so I assume also that the flat-earthers also believe Mr. Obama is a “gangsta rapper”, by their twisted logic.

[Weren’t we all taught, vis à vis the Socratic method that even if all black men are gangstas, not all gangstas are black — right, some of them must be brown!  That is the level of intelligence and reasoning that we are dealing with here in the lower 50, these days — very low in some cases.]

straw woman twoBut all of this pales by comparison to the uphill struggle women have had since the beginning of time. Originally, I was going to speak about an issue that concerns and disturbs me, i.e., the judgment of women by appearance first, and everything else second and thereafter.  It may be a natural animal-like instinct to view the secondary sexual characteristics of the female of our species as being primary in order to ensure generational perpetuation, but we are not living in the Stone age or the African savannahs where our ancestors became upright, bipedal and hominid.  We are living in the post-modern world with economic, social and populational pressures that outflank mere physicality.

There is nothing to say that our current social organizational order is less valid, less impelling than the one we experienced when first assembling into functioning groups for survival, division of labor, protection, food security, etc.  That was about 3 – 5 million years ago.  We have largely the same body plan as we did at that time, having lost a great deal of hair that once covered our skin so we could live in trees, then among thickets, and finally glide through tall grasses that took over as the forests of Africa receded, leaving broad, grain-filled plains in its wake.  Our bodies today, are almost identical to those of Homo sapiens 200 millennia ago.

But our social and economic lives are light-years different.  So, like all of nature, we have male and female divisions in terms of our physical makeup. But unlike the rest of nature, vastly different, our society and global order have changed dramatically, of necessity so this very overcrowded with human beings (and insects) planet can handle its responsibilities without being completely destroyed (unless of course, we do it in by ignoring global warming to keep the Koch Brothers happy).

That means, that despite having different hormonal, muscular and reproductive systems, men and women are increasingly, in fact exponentially, changing the definition of their roles in every aspect of their lives.  This is happening all over the world, but is at the apex or forefront in the Western world.

Do I have to explain why?  Can we not be observant of the conditions that 7 billion inhabitants, with instant, global communication and an international economic structure, as well as geopolitical straw woman threeinterpolated activity impose on each individual by the time we reach majority?  I won’t insult anyone here, because the information to define the average daily life of every person in the Western world (indeed, in every spot on earth, thanks to social scientists, who have been churning out this information steadily for 150+ years, all of it now one or two clicks away) is readily found.  If anyone wants to know what I am referring to, please ask.

Nonetheless, from time to time I see modern-day Phyllis Schlaflys opining on the proper role of women, i.e., in the home, subservient and grateful, tending the young’uns and (and here is the subtext) completely dependent on men.  Well, of course!  Isn’t this the natural order of things? Isn’t our society disintegrating because women dare to consider themselves equivalent, if not equal (shudder) in every way, to their male counterparts?  Isn’t the historically delimited “women’s rights movement” (pigeonholed pejoratively as ‘feminism’ or ‘feminazism’) the culprit for having destroyed the right and good and superior structure of a world in which women docilely wait for a man to act upon them — preferably early when they are desirable and fertile, and then wait on that man or men (just look at polygamy, still ongoing in many places in the USA as well as the more primitive societies elsewhere) when they are older and perhaps less appealing, often working to the end of their lives only to be left by that man, who seeks another, more nubile servant to take care of his important needs?

After all, aren’t men the ones with the brain?  If you change just one vowel, you will find out what the single  remaining potential “advantage” many men enjoy, over many women, may be.  (Need a hint? Change the ‘i’ to a ‘w’).

I find it intriguing when women get on board with this backward notion.  In fact, my dissertation was related to the  issue of why subordinated people [in that instance, children in a very specific setting] assist in their own subordination.  That was a psychological study of attitudes instrumental in keeping certain children from realizing their potential, unintentionally, of course.  There were a number of theories being tested empirically and the outcomes were manifold and interesting.  Not the topic here, but, related.

straw woman fourWhy would any woman, in America, for example, in 2014 be so blighted by ignorance that she would disregard the abundant data that demonstrates that women must work in the marketplace in order to secure their economic futures when they are no longer young?  In other words, in today’s world, not the 10th century, not the Iron Age, not the Agrarian era, in today’s modern, complex, international, rapidly evolving economic, social and political environment, almost every woman born today will have to get a job, establish a career and work for most if not all of her adult life, well into an advanced age, to avoid crippling poverty.

She will have to bear the children, for the time being.  She will or will not choose or enjoy doing that, depending on her individual personality and circumstances. But no longer can we just sweep aside reality in the current day and pontificate that the world is disintegrating because a physical mandate that ceased to dictate the necessary solutions to current and future problems still has the appearance of being of priority.  Eventually, this species will (and actually already has) devise a system whereby neither women nor men will be forced to bear offspring themselves.  Can we long for the days when this joyous activity was feasible for women?  Those halcyon yester-years when supposedly strong, brilliant men, chose beautiful, nurturing females to establish and embellish a womb-like nest in which the man and his children take priority (that’s right, for most of our history, men owned that house, those kids and that child-bearer-underwear-washer — owned them like a piece of property, to be dealt with as he wished and discarded, penniless — is that what these foolish and narrowly-focused women long to bring back?)

You cannot extract one part of human interaction from the whole in which it is embedded. Even if we wanted to, we cannot return to an economy where 50% of the adult population is fully economically and intellectually as well as emotionally dependent upon and de facto secondary or subordinate to the other 50%.  No rational woman would think this is practicable, practical nor preferable.  And frankly, any man who is thinking this through, will realize that the burden and pressure of being wholly responsible for a wife and children, is untenable and unfair in 2014 and beyond.  You cannot idealize the past, no matter how we tend to recreate history so we can revel in the imagined glories of a very complex and almost unknowable past, despite all the tools we have at our disposal to try to piece it back together and see how it functioned. We will always be outsiders to that past, even if we were alive during it.  It is gone forever with the proverbial wind, only remaining in memories and flawed by definition, thereby.

We were there, but we cannot climb back there.  Again by definition, we only had the knowledge of that day, in that day, with which to conduct our ongoing lives.  We cannot take that time period and superimpose it over the current one.  Think about this and you will realize how obvious this is.

Was that a better social plan, even if you can take it out of its historic context in which it is unalterably fastened?  It was the one we had evolved too by necessity,  it was not better or worse. thinking manager And certain pieces of the puzzle were moved around, added and subtracted, in order to get to where we are today. Some of those changes (which apparently are anathema to this group of people who want to bring back a vestigial order, that will saddle us with a dead carcass, needlessly) were hard to accept, perceived as negative, or undesirable, but they were essential to creating the new order that we enjoy for its advantages, all the while decrying its uglier outcomes.  It is akin to that infamous sausage making.  I don’t hear anyone weeping about eating cassoulet, just because squealing pigs were ground and pushed into their own entrails to produce that so-called delicacy.

I am fleshing this out here, to continue the image I just created, so as to avoid overtly offending anyone elsewhere, when I see these discussions.  In fact, I don’t take them seriously because it is patent on its face that these specious discussions are based on reflexive fear and cannot be useful or valid, because it is looking backward with cloudy rose-colored glasses and when these fora are not pandering to the false notions of a glorified or idyllic past, they are obsessed with using a few bad actors with which to condemn whole groups of people, based on sham categories created largely for just that disparaging purpose.  It is shameful and I have to question the acuity of those who linger in that area for long.

These public laments are to be allowed to spin out, so as to release the pressure that this building sense of foreboding has generated.  It doesn’t matter what “studies” or “information” or websites, books, articles on or offline, are used to bolster the argument, it cannot be true, because it is retrograde and we cannot regress, no matter how much we wish to. While I am not one to reminisce with longing about any past part of my life (truly, I love my life right now and have found, I always love the next phase when it comes — that is just the way I am, so you won’t see me rushing back to reunions or eulogizing my lost childhood and the like), sure I would like my teeth to be brand new as they were when I was 8, but wouldn’t I waste valuable mental real estate trying to get the eight-year old’s body back?  C’mon!

Every modern care giving discipline has recognized the progress of the species.  For example, we no longer diagnose and treat women for ‘hysteria’.  Should we? I ask those who champion the idealized straw woman sixwoman of yesterday.  Women no longer succumb to ‘the vapors’ either. Nor do we cast out demons, bleed people with leeches, chain those with psychotic or behavioral disorders to a bed in a dungeon cell, nor toss infants from towers to cull the population of undesirable females.  In other words, society has progressed.  Through those rather unattractive practices, I might add — who among us is to judge whether or not they were necessary, to getting to the next, more enlightened stage?

We could dismiss all this nonsense as being the last dying gasps of a shrinking Caucasian minority fueled by a stubborn resistance to change, no matter how inchoate.

But this is more serious than that.  This relates to outright discrimination, little different from blatant bigotry and misogyny.  And let me say right here and now: I am equally offended by mishomony where it rears its ugly head. Putting people in imagined slots and then defining those slots so you can control and perhaps eliminate them is what Hitler and Stalin did.  If you want a vivid idea of how this happened, insidiously and then exploded onto the international scene, read Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder.

My point is, there is no such thing as an ‘ism’.  So-called isms are labels others apply to a cluster of phenomena or behaviors and then look for more to gather under that rubric.  These isms come and go, they are theoretical constructs that have limited use and in the wrong hands, are dangerous. Perhaps some people prefer to be assigned to a category devised by others so they don’t have to think and act of their own accord, but let others do their thinking and commanding for them.  I am not one of those, and it has nothing to do with any ism influencing me.

If women want to get married, stay at home, have children and embellish a nest, and they flourish doing that, well and good.  If women must or choose to both have children and go out and get jobs, and they do both well, wonderful.  Some women get married, have jobs, and no children.  Are those women less than?  There are terrible stay at home mothers and wonderful parents, who raise magnificent, happy, neurosis-free children, with both parents sharing the load, including working and having careers.  I know many, personally. My point is that women cannot be sorted into discrete categories any more than men can. Categories are meant to make statistics easy, but they should not be abused by those who assign a value to them.  I would just advise that stay-at-home woman to get an IRA and start charging the breadwinner for the incredible variety and complexity of tasks she is handling, so she can secure her future, should he exit, one way or another.

Historically, women have labored long hours in the home, were not respected nor compensated for that work, commensurate with its value nor with equal labor by men.  For that reason, and many others, including the obvious physical advantage that males have had for millions of years, a movement arose to try to help women rise to a higher and more equitable level.  When that movement, however cumbersome and distasteful it might have seemed to some, largely transformed the way in which women perceived themselves, it faded back. Railing against that mechanism strikes me as repugnant, the way hearing rich white kids deploring affirmative action offends me.

You cannot look at time periods in terms of a few decades.  You need to pull back and look at macro-level trends. We need to view the woman’s struggle for equal treatment from a perspective of hundreds of years, not tens of years.  To deny this inequity is just a self-lie, perhaps unconsciously motivated, to satisfy some need.  That should be addressed, with self, group or professional therapy.

Meanwhile, the world moves forward.  We need to adjust our individual behavior to the requirements of today, much as we may not find that comfortable and comforting.

One last point, this go-round (and I will probably return to this general topic in the future, as it is so important).  There is as much variation within categories, usually, as there is between. So, you will find women with a range of characteristics, including brilliance, ambition, physical strength and leadership ability.  A particular, individual woman may not thrive by staying at home.  That does not make her any kind of ‘ist’.  It makes her a free, independent thinker, like so many men admire in each other.  We need to allow for that without labeling her or assigning her to a group by virtue of her being female. We are not gods.

So, let’s stop flagellating each other for the things we must do in order to adapt and survive.

*Thank you to Marey Mercy for correcting my very-un-hip knowledge

Images: 123rtf.com, depositphotos.com,shutterstock.com,1photos.com

paw2014-s

39 Comments on “The last straw-woman

  1. PS: I would comment more, but I happen to agree with your arguments. We must not regress and cannot, however “comfortable” a state it may have appeared to some.

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    • That is exactly my point. The argument about women’s current role in the home, workplace, world is a red herring, a straw-woman. There is no choice, women live to be 90 and 100 now, increasingly. Women 100 years ago, died in their 50s. In the 1950s one-income families could be middle class. No longer, not in the first world. Thank you Vic!

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  2. Wonderful beth wonderful, i felt your rage being released as you wrote this and yes, there’s much more to come… some people though just don’t see this need some of us have to explode out of boxes we have allowed society to put us in… I got tired of fighting them all and instead have broken free of the limited physical life… and choose to raise my own vibration of being and allowing my own ‘natural’ awakening and enlightenment… it is time to be the ‘magnificent light beings’ we truly are.. the physical experience has been good but without pure love it’s not going to go any further… take care beth and some good deep and conscious breaths always helps to expand out of the limitedness… Barbara x

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    • Thank you Barbara. Actually, what I was feeling and always feel when I read this is astonishment, more than anger. I can’t be angry at these people, they are just clueless. Can they really be willing to re-litigate human equality? What are they smoking. There are some very strange trends afoot in the US right now. I am baffled more than anything else and have to believe this is the attempt to regain the grip that this group once had. I feel sorry for a lot of low-information women, who allow themselves to be manipulated into speaking and behaving against their own interests. Oh, and I started working on myself in my 20s. Luckily I have a husband who does the same. You are very kind to be so supportive. And I am pleased to hear that we are so in sync on both the mental and spiritual planes, here. 🙂

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      • I used to get so disappointed about how people can just not care and take no responsibility… life is to experience and expand in… and this used to anger me… maybe this feeling was brought up… I’ve tried to help others but they just don’t want to hear… I have learned to live my life regardless… and like yourself met a wonderful partner and teachers along the way… to keep us sane…. IAM in the US at the moment and we have to laugh at how ‘Subway’ are opening up 50 new outlets each week.. to feed the people… and when the people start getting ill from all the stooge, sugar, salt and preservatives they can swallow the medicines to keep them alive a little bit longer…that are so available here for each illness… Something will wake all these people up… it has to… Barbara

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        • The food thing is a particularly apt indicator that corporations have taken over the thought processes for Americans. We buy what is pushed on us continually. It is no accident that there are more fast food chains and ads along with far more ads for legal drugs, pharmaceuticals. Americans are a physical mess. Gee, I wonder why? We have to think, think, think for ourselves or we are pawns.

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          • a few families have their tentacles into most of the control, power and money in the world… today we can see it clearly… the question like you say is… who is going to follow blindly… Barbara

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  3. Beth, you’ve crafted an eloquent argument set for a broader topic that you are clearly passionate about, and I commend you for having done so. I cannot agree with everything you’ve stated here, as my primary thesis seeks to unify Lasch’s “The Culture of Narcissism” with Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” This argues that western civilization is in the midst of the same long term process of social decay as befell the Roman Empire, and that this is a process of narcissistic decay.

    This, in turn, suggests that contemporary enlightened thinking is not only part of this process of decay, but that it actually contributes to it, too.

    I must respectfully disagree with your assertion that isms do not exist. In the same way that a unique and identifiable cluster of symptoms can be held to constitute a syndrome in medicine, a unique and identifiable constellation of collective behaviours, especially when associated with an ideology, formal or informal, can be held as a social phenomenon to be an ism. Hence, Communism, National Socialism, and feminism.

    I will be arguing that some adverse major isms were and are examples of narcissistic collective phenomena, and in particular that feminism is thus a narcissistic gender social analogue of National Socialism. If there is indeed a basis in truth to my thesis, this in turn suggests that the term “feminazi” reflects an inherent truth rather than constituting a pejorative. (However, this term would apply strictly to the radical, ideological, or “gender” feminists, who are acknowledged to loosely control feminism and the “women’s movement.”)

    As I have yet to formally articulate these arguments, further discussion of this will have to be deferred.

    My experience has been that emotionally healthy men and women in traditional marriages actually respect their spouses’ respective traditional contributions to the marriage and family. While I can agree that some men do not respect women who partake of a traditional maternal role in life, I disagree that this is universal, as it contradicts my experience. Emotionally healthy women who enjoy the traditional maternal role are general held in esteem by emotionally well adjusted men.

    I do agree that not all women are suited for this, and especially not being mothers. E.g., “there is an alarmingly high rate of sexual abuse by females in the backgrounds of rapists, sex offenders and sexually aggressive men…” [F. Matthews, “The Invisible Boy,” cited by McGill University’s P. Nathanson and K. Young, “Legalizing Misandry,” McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006, p. 257.]

    Further, I find the argument that women are not respected in their traditional role by men (or society) to be unsupportable, in that it completely fails to consider the the same question as it pertains to men. Does not our society view men who are the sole income earners in a traditional family as “patriarchal” oppressors of women, versus the reality of having to work to support others? There are difficult or crummy jobs out there that are being done so that families can support themselves. How many men spent their working lives in mines, so their families could afford to eat and have a roof over their heads?

    I will also defer the topic of feminism being a malevolent social force until my first book comes out. At its core, it has nothing to do with rights and equality, despite its sanctimonious claims to the contrary. How can a gender analogue of National Socialism be anything but wicked? *Nav realizes that he isn’t especially good at deferral*

    I also express my gratitude at the licence granted me to express contrarian views here. I consider it a privilege to be permitted to do so, and I would never allow these differences to affect my sincere respect for you or your arguments.

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  4. First of all, there are no ‘isms’ – they are theoretical labels. Some seem to fit more aptly than others. There are only behaviors, phenomena, events, actions. The ‘isms’, all of them, including the ones you cite, are categories people devise to consider behaviors, phenomena etc. Some are useful, others destructive.

    Your personal experience and mine are merely anecdotal and while they are important to us, they mean little in terms of understanding the way the world works, from a scientific, empirical, statistically valid and prediction-based point of view.

    Only ignorant people view men as patriarchs in the post modern world. Only ignorant people see all men as oppressors, by virtue of maleness.

    You can devise theories, Nav, that is your right. But, when theories are imposed on wide swathes of society, against fact and truth, against their will, those theories are destructive. Present company aside, and with due respect, I have seen no experts (and by experts, I refer to those whose work in the behavioral science field appears in respected, peer-reviewed research journals; by the way, I am not one either) on narcissistic behavior (which is just a theory and construct used in some clinical settings to try to illuminate a cluster of behaviors) blogging. Only layman. While their opinions and experiences are interesting and could be educational and informative, they are merely opinions and personal experiences, no more.

    As for medicine, there have been centuries of misdiagnoses, since syndromes and labels in medicine are just as limited as in the rest of the world. For example, cancer has been an outmoded grab bag for the past 50+ years, but we still refer to certain physical anomalies using that term.

    I don’t agree with you, but you are welcome to continue offering your opinion as only the smallest minds and characters, in my opinion, are unable to hear a different point of view. I entertain all POVs, but stick to proven fact when navigating through life and certainly when deciding upon policy.

    Labeling people is primitive and dangerous.

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  5. Separately, as a topic, if there is a decline in Western society, it has mostly to do with the failed economic and socio-political policies of the dominant powers since Englightenment. For example, look up development theory. We were hegemonists and the rest of the world is now rising. We are also dominated by international cartels that mean the decline of wages in the first world. That and poverty have more to do with Western decline, if and where it exists in meaningful percentages, than any change (necessary change) in the balance of gender roles.

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  6. Yep, yep, and yep again. Regression is never going to get us out of this quagmire- and labelling, and marginalizing those who are labelled (according to outdated concepts and ideals or deliberate misunderstanding/vilification) is contributing to our collective downfall.

    As you know I’ve said (over and over again), POLARIZING and CREATED opposition is among the biggest issues we are dealing with societally. Your last comment (right up there ^^^) nails it, IMHO. Succinct and spot on.

    Refusing to challenge social constructs that were created MILLENNIA ago- be they gender roles or religious beliefs, as examples- in light of our current cultural and historical contexts is nothing more than irresponsible hubris that seeks to maintain the status quo that benefits those few (mainly men) who hold power.

    And now my Irish is up, but good. The post I was working on today might have to wait…

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    • And we Irish have no problem getting up, lol! Sorry to have sabotaged your schedule, too.

      I am mostly reacting to the peculiar and alarming backward trend in our public discourse in the US. Nasty, inaccurate, divisive compartmentalizing of people, just because someone has cleverly cast them into a category and then deliberately promulgated disinformation about that person and category. It is terrible and so unworthy of this country.

      For heaven sake, don’t we have more important issues to grapple with as a planet than bigotry and suppression? How about children dying in Syria, famine in Africa, the scorching of Australia, the militarism of Russia. Those seem more important than trying to bring back the horse and buggy, just because we were big fish in a littler pond in those days. I cannot understand it and why it has taken hold here.

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  7. It’s happening here, too. Backwards is backwards. How hard is that to understand? The movement toward equality- regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or anything else- CANNOT be held back by those seeking to maintain their tenuous hold on power and influence.

    Disinformation is rampant. And unexamined opinions are spreading like disease through the myriad forums of communication to which we can lay claim. There is no real evaluation of contextualising being done as this divisive discourse is encouraged at all levels.

    The current federal government has just started showing its campaign attack ads, and every time I see one I end up yelling at the screen. I can’t stand what we are allowing to happen.

    Thank goodness there are strong, reasoned and educated voices like yours calling us to account!

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  8. There’s a deeper theme here that comes up in many of your posts, which is a frustration with this tendency of our society (and perhaps our world) to base beliefs and world views on fantasy and/or anecdote rather than fact (research-based fact, compiled and analyzed by experts, of course). I think this is done so often because it’s so much easier, not to mention more comfortable. An example of that may have even happened somewhere in these comments…hmmmm.

    (I do have to point out that it’s “Kanye” West though, because I sadly know these things.)

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    • Oh MG!! I never even thought to look it up or maybe I Googled it and some ignoramuses of my own ilk, spell it that way LOL!!!! I will go up and fix this. Thank you MM! And for your confirmation that I am rather un-fond (to coin an awkward turn of phrase) of us falling in love with our own personal experiences and ideas, when it comes to very important issues. On the other hand, when it comes to clothes and makeup and jewelry, we should def fall in love with ourselves, hee hee. 🙂

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      • I agree, it’s just not the right way to educate one’s self about how the world at large works, or societal structures, or history, or any other number of big important things.

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        • And, since my more central point seems to be lost, sometimes in all my wordiness: I am tired of women being counseled to return to the 1950s and our ‘proper’ place. There have been discussions among some of the blogs I follow (and really like) about the world being better if women and men would assume their rightful roles. That was one of the main reasons I jumped into this topic and then of course, it always comes down to proofs, he said/she said, whose data is more relevant. We can never solve the problem or resolve the discussion if we are always battling between beliefs and evidence. The issue itself gets lost in that debate! Thank you MM for your helpful comments, always. 🙂

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          • People who preach for this ‘return’ to some idyllic time where women ‘knew their place’ don’t really have that true time period in mind. It infuriates me to have women preach crap to other women they they themselves aren’t actually doing. Like that troll Ann Coulter, trying to denigrate women in the workplace and make them all feel like they shouldn’t vote, should just go home and quit trying to fit into a ‘man’s world’ while she herself makes millions doing EXACTLY that. Same for Schlafly and the whole lot of them – they’re not exactly living some 1950’s bored-housewife existence themselves, but they make their money telling other women to do just that.

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            • Exactly. And, thank you for reminding me about Coulter – the female Limbaugh. With Bachmann, I cannot tell whether she is dumb or dumb like a fox. Palin is just uneducated and ignorant, un-self-reflective. With Coulter, it is all commerce – the studied come-hither appearance, the vitriol, outsized sense of self and ambition. How hypocritical and why is she a Republican? She figured out that there are fewer ambitious, independent and educated women on the right and the field was wide open for her to step in and pretend she is a traditionalist. It is part of the plan to hijack a cunning woman into brainwashing other women. Infuriates me.

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  9. As usual, I’m getting into the fray late. Part of nature, I think; always been a late bloomer. I understand the post completely and know exactly where this is coming from. I do, do, do agree with you, Beth, and must say you have enlightened me regarding the “isms.” It is the people involved who we must focus on.

    I must admit, having “grown up” in the 50s and 60s (born in 1950), that I experienced the divisiveness of what Nav refers to as the “feminist” movement first hand. I did state on his blog that I don’t think we could have done without the advances made in equal pay, Title 9, the broken glass ceiling and a host of other open doors that women of that era brought about through their courage and without the support of this culture in general. I will repeat here that I think there also was nearly irreparable damage done by those same individuals by dividing women who desired to work outside the home from women who desired to work inside the home. There could have been a unity of purpose, and it was sad there wasn’t.

    I also stated that there wasn’t support for those women who had to, or tried to do it all and couldn’t, and suffered guilt and/or exhaustion because of it.

    Having restated all this…I wouldn’t want to go backwards,nor do I think we should. I don’t think a society can function at its fullest when half of its members are not given all rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness, however that might look. And I certainly don’t ever want Phyllis Schlafly or Anita Bryant telling me how to live my life.

    I honestly believe that younger women don’t understand the struggle older women went through to obtain all this freedom. I also, however think that younger women are making wiser choices these days and not emptying themselves to attempt to be the superwomen some of us tried to be. They are, realistically, deciding to be women with a myriad of options from which to choose.

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    • Thank you for those insights, Susan. I forgot all about Anita Bryant. There are modern-day Bryants and Schlaflys, too. The problem we all have is that, while the advice to just stay home and tend children and spouse sounds feasible or appealing (on some level, to some people) when you are 18, 25, 40, etc., it becomes less and less realistic and attractive when you are 65, have been left by a husband (one way or another, or perhaps you leave yourself — after all, one in two marriages dissolves in the US, statistically) and have now to support yourself. It happens to some women even younger.

      I don’t even look to the ’50s, I look at the hundred years prior and to the suffrage movement and all women had to endure to be taken seriously as having intelligence and rights equal to men. My grandmother had a Master’s degree. That was extraordinary in those days. I admire her grit and the fact that her parents encouraged her to get an education and have a career. And she raised two children. She was an excellent mother and a wonderful grandmother. She and my mother (also highly educated) are my role models. Both were/are women who were hardworking, educated, good wives and mothers. It can be done. My mother’s and grandmother’s advice has always been wise and sound. I have a great deal of respect for them and they did it all.

      It wasn’t easy. Why do we always think things must be easy, comfortable or convenient? I often choose hard, because that is how I grow. And sometimes life chooses it for me. I don’t whine about it. I always try to see how the adversity or challenge will strengthen me, especially in an area where I am lacking something. And I don’t always succeed, but at least I tried.

      My central point here and you have contributed some very good details to bear it out, is that we just treat all human beings as equal: mentally challenged or gifted, short or tall, black or pink, gay or straight, male or female. That is the side of history that we are on right now and I am done with women who get on board with this antique thinking that women should ‘know their place’, in so many words.

      Thank Susan for your patience and your valuable comments.

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      • Well thank you, Beth, for graciously indulging an older woman her pov. My mom was a working mom, too!

        While I remember many arguments and anger during that period of time (60s), and the victory of some major wins, what has remained with me was the sadness of that division. Many of us have worked at healing, and I, for one, don’t ever want to experience that gap between women again. We all have too much to offer this world to be taken apart by individual ideology and “isms.”

        I feel pain and sadness by and for the women who make their living doing just that. I could name them here, but we probably know who they are.

        Thanks again for letting an old girl say her piece.

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        • I never think about age, Susan, honestly. Once we are over 21 we all feel like we are aging. I have friends of all ages – I think this culture is far too ageist, so you never need refer to yourself that way when we are chatting unless you want to. There are advantages to every age. I am just grateful when I wake up in the morning, as there are so many people who don’t.

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  10. Pingback: ‘Every single one of us’ « colemining

  11. Thank you for another interesting post. My brain is a little too fuzzy at the moment to add an intelligent comment.
    One paragraph caught my eye, and I am going to search your past blogs to see if there is one about attitudes that keep children from reaching their potential, I’m involved in a charity program that provides clothes, shoes and underwear to jteacher referred children,and always on the lookout for new info.

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    • Thank you for enduring this long post, Diane. I don’t know that I have gone into this topic at length, but I will — you have just reminded me that the subject is a valuable one to write about and one on which I had done quite a bit of work, early in my educational life. How good of you to select that particular charity. I am interested in hearing more about that! 🙂

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  12. My Nana brought up her children in the late 60’s and 70’s and took part-time work with my great-nan looking after my mum after school for two days. My grandad had to work 84 hours per week to buy a house, at least then one person could pay the rent or buy a house. The roles and work are more shared out now but we have problems in childcare costs and expensive housing and older women like my nan are still working at the age of 67 because she has a very very small pension off my grandad’s state pension. She would love to retire but enjoys her annual holiday in Benidorm, little car and freedom too much to give it all up 😉

    My mums favourite saying is glass ceilings over time will be smashed if women want it enough.

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    • You grandparents made considerable sacrifices for their family — so admirable. Good, hardworking men and women everywhere do this and all I want is that women not be criticised when they choose to have a career and work outside the home, no more than men would be, as long as they are good mothers when and if they do have children. There is a certain element of the population here in the US that believes women do not belong in the workplace. Those people would sentence a woman to future poverty, if something happens to her marriage. For whatever reason, this group attacks a group of pioneering women who sought to crack that glass ceiling so it would be easier for future women to break and pass through. My position is that those women who did this, played a necessary role and the fact that some of them may have been flawed in how they behaved is not an excuse to attack every independent female. I don’t like putting people in boxes with labels as if we are so perfect and without defects ourselves. I especially don’t like it when women help to attack other women just because they want to please a certain type of man.

      Thank you Charlotte, for your thoughtful comment. I agree with your mum and admire your family.

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      • I don’t like women attacking other women for their different choices or lack of options as you say 😉 I understand the sacrifices home working mums make and respect them for that and as my mum worked full time outside the home to give us the opportunities through her earnings to do things she and a Dad would like to have done 😉 I admire and support that too. It’s hard for women to stop earning and progressing at work to have a family. I’ll be 25 before I finish training that’s the age my Mum had her first baby but she’d been working 9 years by then. I liked your article it make me think.

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        • Thank you Charlotte. We are on the same wavelength. You have plenty of time to be a wife and mother. 🙂 Your head and heart appear to be in the right place and balance, too.

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  13. Pingback: Semper free! | Beth Byrnes

  14. Another fabulous article, Beth, with so much thought and clarity on the subject. It never ceases to amaze me that people are so keen to pigeon-hole others as if one characteristic made for the whole. In my opinion, those who do, have an axe to grind that furthers their own agenda. How else could we account for the existence, past and present, of those who view colour/gender/religion/age etc as the benchmark for their opinions and points of view? To classify in such a way allows others to ride roughshod over any progress the world needs to make in order to ensure equal rights for all people. Criteria used to suppress or oppress has no place in a thinking populace.

    Feminism has had a bad press, I believe, because, as is the case when massive changes occur, the pendulum often swings to extremes of behaviours and language. Some of the rhetoric used by some feminists has succeeded in alienating both men and women, a self-defeating exercise that is lamentable when thinking of the sacrifices earlier proponents made to a just cause.
    Extremes are often dangerous and detrimental to a cause, annexing swathes of support from those of a more moderate sensibility who seek justice without having to resort to alarming behaviours. Having said that, I think that history tells us, in the case of the women’s rights movement (and others), that had the Suffragettes and their later supporters not taken extreme action, others who were happy enough with the status quo would not have instructed change because they suddenly saw the light.
    History is littered with other examples of necessary action to create change. Ideally, extreme action is never a first option to redress inequality but the sad fact is that many changes of historical significance would not otherwise have occurred.
    Too many feel they have to resort to extreme behaviours to be heard.
    It saddens me that there are those who seek to return to a rose-tinted past, who seek to negate progress made and who do not appreciate the sacrifices others made that earned them rights unknown to earlier generations.

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    • Exactly. You hit the nail squarely on the head, Anne-Marie. That is my point: we had to be dragged kicking and screaming to a place where women were treated as equals. Only extreme people could make this cosmic shift in our consciousness come about. Naturally, some of them did so violently and unfairly but we are left in a better place for it. I just wish people would stop demonizing “feminism” as it is were a monolith and some sort of evil force marauding on the rights of men. Had men not abused their positions, “feminism” would never have occurred, would not have been necessary.

      As it is, while strides have been made here in North America, in most of the world women are still largely abused and subserviant. Who else would they turn to but strong women in the Western and advanced countries, to help them overcome centuries of cruel domination?

      Thank you so much for your articulate and concise summary of the central point here. 🙂

      Like

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