Friday, February 3, 2017

What Women Want

We were immediately vulnerable. They ranged above us, on the many overpasses. They carried placards and bottles and babies. They waved and hollered things. Our rented car was slowed to a crawl. Others honked up at them in support. And the Interstate 5 through Los Angeles seemed entirely clogged with the immediacy of the moment. Women were everywhere. Some men were among them. But the energy was female, vital, regenerative, and empowered. Still, this just past January 21st, 2017 (already!) it was a march that best not have needed to have taken place at all.

Women have freed women. History has had remarkable leaders. Boadicea; Elizabeth the First; Florence Nightingale. Even Margaret Thatcher inspired. So too did Hillary, unassured as was her victory. Her credibility was undermined so resoundingly that young girls everywhere saw themselves not as heroines, but as victims. After all, a boy-president who bragged of grabbing their private parts demeaned them. And boys, everywhere, will always be boys. Or will they?

Maturation is not necessarily the lode-stone of time. Accident is. Darwin's natural selection never was meant, as the fallacy goes, for "the fittest and the strongest." It was meant as an observation of the lucky and the adaptable. After all, throw a big rock into a small tidal pool and the organisms that are not crushed, and the ones who get dispersed into other pools, are the ones that may well adapt to the new. But adaptation is still not maturation. There is a physical component to adaptation that slip-slides through the quagmires, like snakes through mud, or even moves like those that clutch but briefly overhead as they swirl through a forest, like apes, lesser or greater though they may be. No, maturation is a component of insight and apprehension that goes beyond the mere braggadocio of the herd bull; maturation is a quality of wisdom that in accountability is essentially compassionate. And compassion, as a subject, is not an intellectual apprehension, but a lived experience.

Girl toys are stable: doll houses; play-kitchen sets. Boy toys are mobile: planes, trains, and automobiles. Pink and blue distinguishes toy aisles. We perpetuate the stereotypes on the TV, in advertising, in our social structures. And despite the hundreds and even thousands of women who are liberated and liberating, who are examples of free thinking and progressive and leading women, we retain an overall sense of a woman serving a man. Women marry and work twice as hard to keep their man (and then their children) clean and tidy and fed and clothed. Men go to work. Men come home, and as the McCartney opera states it, complain, "Where's my dinner?"

Thing is, mankind is feeding itself with images, with habituation, with expectation, and with at times unquestioned acculturation. If each of us were to rise up against the status quo we see mounting around us we would perhaps more quickly evolve toward....? Now THAT is the question. Our evolution is the subject of much contention. At issue is that, no matter what age, one be 'at peace with oneself'. Issue is: that 'peace' is so very subjective. Still, in the groups of people marching toward freedoms, toward social statements, toward a future that no longer is shackled by the past, there is at aim a sensibility, one hopes, that we all will be advantaged by the idea at hand. Or why march at all? Yet, tell that to the group members activated by hate and bigotry and discrimination and xenophobia.

Geographically we can easily change places, countries, provinces, cities. Especially nowadays. It is our interior spaces that are more of a challenge, it appears, for us to change. We can feel too vulnerable. We can lose control. Meantime, we can honk, give the thumbs up, but drive on. Yet as we know, real change begins within. Person by person. And freedom, history has shown, is always hard won, especially for women.

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