Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tragic Times

My last post came just days before two incredibly bizarre and tragic events took place.  One in my own community and the other on the other side of the world, in China. 

My post, Heed the Call of the Women, could not have been more timely, as it addresses the very
causes of the two tragedies, one in our community where a husband and father destroyed his entire family,  and the other where the apathy our world has for its youngest and most vulnerable was represented in China with the running over of and subsequent death of a two year old girl....

We must as human beings, embrace our fragile selves, physically and psychologically, and be forgiving to ourselves as well as to others.
The tenderness that was absent in both situations came due to the sick and diseased state we have allowed ourselves to sink to, a state that abhors gentleness and compassion, seeing those two as weaknesses.  A society that values brutality, power and aggression will find these kinds of tragedies more commonplace.   When bullies reign the "playground",  we have lost our souls and people begin to self immolate, as Tibetans now do in China...
It's time to stop doing and begin healing each other and ourselves. 
The first step is to cherish our pain, our fragile selves, and the pain and fragility of those around us.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Heed the Call of the Woman

Heed the Call of the Woman
Pauline Schneider 10/9/2011

Whenever I hear from the media or organizations  or even individuals that women have come a long way and have so many rights today and can do anything they want to,  I cringe.
Yes, we have earned with blood and tears the right to vote, but only after black MEN had been given that  right. Yes, we are able to go to colleges and study medicine today, but we are still far outnumbered by the men who run the American Medical Association  an organization  that worked early on to ban and delegitimize any Midwifery organizations in this country.   Yes we now have women astronauts  but not one has yet piloted a space shuttle mission, and they still rarely get to do flips for CNN live broadcasts…  We have come a long way right behind the men and pretty much have remained  right behind the men.

I could go on and on with these  “advances,” and I will share two more that I find the most extremely important  and perhaps the most disturbing.  I don’t mean to demean the great  advances  that women in the US have made,  and they are significant.  However, would it be considered  total  equality gained for all women if only a handful of women made  achievements and gains?  Not necessarily.   If all our wealthy are only 1% of our population, does that make us all wealthy?  Of course not.   What I mean to do is place the feminist advances in perspective and reveal some real concerns that  perhaps we women  have not been as successful as we have been told by the media and by the men who pretty much run the show around here.   Here are the two main, disturbing reasons why:

Although  US women make up 50% of the workforce, slightly outnumber  men in population (men are 49.1%,women are 50.9%), [1] and women are often healthier,  longer lived, better drivers,  better educated,  more productive members of our society and quite frequently the healers and care takers of our children and elderly, yet  they are still marginalized as a body.  The first disturbing example of that is that despite all these  major  contributions to society  mentioned,   a woman can only expect  to earn a mere 73-75 cents of every man’s dollar, which over a lifetime of work (doing the exact  same  job as a man would do,  for the exact  same amount  of time, with the exact same  skill and ability)  spells hundreds of thousands of dollars lost in pay and in Social Security benefits which she needs since she will be living longer than her less hearty male counterpart.  

The second  disturbing example  is that despite  women’s participation in the workforce,  their many contributions to society and their long livedness, women only make up around 10% of the government  that  represents all the people of this nation every day.  That’s hardly representative of  our largest group of citizens and 50% of our workforce! That is not only an outrage,  it’s dangerous ….  Dangerous in the most unexpected ways.

When women are marginalized this way, their values are equally marginalized.  Everything they hold dear and everything they hope for is marginalized and delegitimized .  Everything.  Being called a "girl" is still an insult, and being emotional and sensitive, well,  you know how far that gets a politician... Especially if it's a woman.  If the mere act of being female is enough to qualify for dismissal, the ideals of a woman are certainly not any more important than she is.  Women have essentially been dismissed from politics. Don't be fooled by the Hillary Clntons. They are the uncle Toms of feminism and are wholly concerned with the ideals of the 90% of the political apparatus, and not the 75% of our society's women and children.
When there are only 10% of you trying to pass laws you can pretty much expect  to be marginalized and delegitimized.    The Equal Rights Amendment  has still not passed after nearly 86 years of trying to get it passed…  And I think I heard someone  scoff  just now…
Every scoff at these legitimate  complaints is a marginalization.   Imagine scoffing at a man who was outraged that he couldn’t  get a decent cup of coffee in the morning.  Now imagine scoffing at a woman who couldn’t get a decent political representation in her government. Different kind of scoff, right?   Maybe,  I’ll bet you commiserated with the man who wanted a good cup of coffee… Who doesn’t?   A good cup of coffee is nothing to scoff at, and neither is a government that is representative of its citizens.

But women want more than a good cup of coffee, they need more than a good cup of coffee; they need to be heard and they need to be included.  Too often in our culture they are not.

This is easily proven by just looking around the town one lives in, by opening a newspaper, or even turning on the TV.  We see the marginalization of  women’s ideals constantly and consistently.   We see it in the holidays celebrated,   both religious and national,  in the heroes  celebrated,   in the kind of society we create with men   running the town boards (and the occasional   marginalized  female who is, however,  probably wealthy and  has a long familial history in the town),  in the  police force that we as a society consider appropriate (mostly men with guns and attitudes),   in the way we even manicure our  gardens with men using loud, smelly (arrogant?)  machinery  invented  by men  to make money  and not necessarily to make life easier or prettier.  All of this constant marginalizing is drilled into our consciousness and it becomes part of psyche. We can't even tell sometimes we are marginalized.  It's just part of life, like that planter's wart on our foot or the bunion on the toe you just learn to ignore. But it is still there, and quite prominently in our culture.

 Prominent in most towns is the US flag and perhaps a statue or plaque  lamenting the loss of or the heroic deed of  some local soldier,  usually a man,  but extremely rarely a woman  who no one has heard of though her heroic deeds far outweigh the famous men of similar deeds,  like Sybil Luddington who rode further, harder and longer  (in a rain storm)  than Paul Revere (who stopped for a brewsky and who could blame him?) and she saved far more lives and was only 16 years old.  
Not prominent  are the parks and playgrounds  for our children  which really are afterthoughts,  tucked  away out of sight and sound since the laughter of children is often offensive to the business district occupied mostly by men who must have important discussions without disturbance.   Youths on skateboards,  since they  frequently have nowhere else to play,   choose to ride the sidewalks in front of these men’s shops and are often scolded  & even arrested for that,  many times harassed & bullied by cops.  [2] Even the crosswalks are dangerous  to cross  despite signage advising motorists to slow down and give pedestrians the right of way the speed limits cannot be lowered due to state laws (made by men).   The school  crosswalks require a crossing guard  to prevent   auto drivers from plowing down the women’s children which happens often enough to  require speed bumps in some towns…  Not mine, though.   The cost to save the children’s lives is too high… The men have voted it down.

Any woman who has had to deal with men in their male environments  has noticed being marginalized.   We observe the same things that African Americans observe about their own conditions and treatment,  that some things have changed for the better, but so much has not changed at all.  When I have to deal with a man I notice that often the man has not heard most of what I have said to him.   This usually becomes apparent  when the service I am asking for comes  out  very wrong.  Which is all too often.   They simply have not listened to the words I said and instead  filled in the noise coming out of my mouth with what they wanted to hear…   And it’s not an isolated experience,  I have witnesses to this and one is my boyfriend who has actually watched it happen.    He is the rare man who actually hears and listens to the words coming out of my mouth.  He does not marginalize me and values my life and my contributions.   He is a rare gem, but I know a few more like him. There is hope!   Just last night we both were treated completely differently by a male employee  at the Home Depot.  Although I was in the front at the help counter ,  the employee  addressed my boyfriend first  who was obviously behind me with a cart of goods.     My BF indicated  that  I was the one who needed  help.  When I was done talking the employee  then  asked  my boyfriend if he needed  help…  So, he didn’t know we were together, yet he was going to serve the man  BEHIND the woman  who had obviously gotten to the desk first… (shaking my head)  This wasn’t the first time this has happened  to me at HD.

There is an even more sinister evidence to the marginalization of women and to their ideals and it is found in the grocery store in the piles of foodstuffs that are filled with poison and pesticides despite the demand s from women to remove the poisons and pesticides so as to protect their children.   What women idealize is so often disregarded by the  men in the government who are 90% of the majority there.  So just like the Home Depot employee,   often these men  tend to give their ears to the other men who run businesses and want to sell their products,  run their factories at low cost,  produce all kinds of dirty energy to make money off of,  despite the fact that these actions  would harm  50% of our nation’s workforce,  and about 75% of our entire population  (our youth make up 25%) who have no voice in these decisions.   As we look around  we see the society we live in collapsing from this marginalization of women,  the dismissal of what women value and treasure and the  blatant  neglect of our most vulnerable children,  we see it in the failing economy,   in the rising levels of Carbon and pollution in the atmosphere,   and in the  rising cost of dirty, very un-renewable  energies.  These are deep  concerns  not only for women, but for the men who love them and who often depend on women to care for them.

 How can a woman care for the men she loves when she is so marginalized that  her concerns are  dismissed by such a small  yet powerful minority?  How can a woman be an effective citizen and  parent  when she is denied the economic resources  and  the political  power that   her  fewer in number  male counterparts  seem  to hoard and luxuriate in?
How can a woman  care for her children when she is humiliated by the men who have sworn an oath to “serve and protect”? [3]  What’s a woman to do?

It is not an accident that our world has come to this dangerous precipice.  When the ideals of women, and when the needs  of women are dismissed and  ignored long enough  in any society,  that society at best limps along, miserably and awfully, and at worst it collapses.  Just look at what happened to Rome.

Simone deBeauvoir,  the great  existentialist philosopher and wife of  another  fairly decent existentialist philosopher,  writes in The Second Sex that women are faced by a formidable foe who keeps them downtrodden and marginalized,  the foe is the men that they love; their fathers, brothers,  husbands and sons.  It is, therefore, impossible to wage the revolution that historically has freed people from oppression and that women would need to wage to become genuinely free (and would essentially free men as well!).  Such a revolution would mean  destroying  those we love.   Such a thing is impossible for most women, though sadly, many men think nothing of hurting women... Having worked in a women's shelter I have seen first hand what a man can do to someone he allegedly "loves".

There is a  Cherokee  saying that puts this more plainly:
A woman’s highest calling is to lead a man to his soul, so as to unite him with the Source:
Her lowest calling is to seduce,  separating man from his soul and leave him aimlessly wandering.
A man’s highest calling is to protect woman,  so she is free to walk the earth  unharmed.
Man’s lowest calling is to ambush and force his way into the life of a woman.

Every day men  are ambushing women  in a million different ways and forcing their way into our lives while refusing to hear our voices trying to lead them back to their souls, so as to unite them with the Source. Everyday other men are taking the time to listen and heed the call of the women to find their souls.  We see some of those men down on Wall Street now filling the streets and Zuccotti park & making no demands, speaking of no violence, and just expressing their souls' desires for a safer, more caring world. There has never been a more important  time  for men to heed the call of women and for women to lead them home.  

Perhaps the very survival of our species depends on this.