I grew up in America’s mid-west: Mom from Brooklyn. Dad, rural Iowa. Dad never distanced himself from depression era losses. We all enjoyed THAT world. Mom struggled to imbue a fundamentalist Christian bent. WHEW! If that’s not a small box to add to impoverished thought… myopia and degrees of difficulty notwithstanding, the reconciling of a Self and Life can be achieved.
Sidebar: The American Mythologist Joseph Campbell said something to the effect that there is Light in every religion though their structure prevents most from realizing it. Though I know those who found it—none in my family—nor I. Now add this bit: The great writer, musician, painter and teacher Martin Prechtel reports that “Religion cannot be sold to happy people.”
As testimonial, my family and community ignorantly followed our marching orders furthering our unhappiness: We pursued ethics of hard work, self-sacrifice and restrictive/diminishing Christianity. Unwittingly we maintained the lie that girls and women deserve second-class status. Fear and unhappiness are fertile ground for religious currents—chilly though they were. You’d wonder what could grow THERE?
What grew in addition to our unhappiness—of which echos remain—pressure from the boot of patriarchy securely placed on the throats of girls and women. That’s what grew! To which every girl and woman can attest. Some men too, but too few.
Get this: The majority of us are unaware that the source of our daily exhaustion lies with our keeping those weighty boots in place. A place they don’t belong. Few if any have sussed this root cause out. Boots belong on the ground. This misplacement lies at the center of humanity’s denial of girls, women and the feminine. This also perpetuates the imprisoning of boys and men… gravely, this confinement is oblivious to nearly all.
Setting aside the pandemic nature of this obscenity, it is curious that my otherwise bright, intelligent, quick, clever and good thinking parents—as well as one can think within confines of fear and conviction—didn’t see though this. Hmm? Just goes to show that the intellect pales when considered in the context the Mystery’s Universal Intelligence—Wisdom and Awareness—which is of course, the province of the feminine—whether accessed by women or men. Stay the course, There is a point…
So, what helped me sort myself out? you wonder: The short answer is women. I’m serious. The disenfranchised themselves—being their genuine selves doing what they were impelled to do changed me enough to reset my heading.
It all started really with my 3rd grade teacher. She had me stand in front of her desk after class while she told me off for beating up my older brother while in the queue for the busses. Looking at her across her desk I realized that she was pretty cool. She was ragging on me for something I had done rather than for who I was. This was a first!
The next bit was my 5th grade teacher: She touched my shoulder once while queuing the class for lunch and I sensed her respect for children in general, and in this moment, me. Hmm? I already liked her yet this was a lot to take in. She changed me.
Nattering on a little longer, there were also three particular women on my paper route. When I collected for their paper I interrupted them preparing a meal or eating it. Irrespective, each was consistently gracious, kind and fully present. They were not polite. Instead they were real and interacted genuinely. Patiently. One of them worked at the bank where I took my loot. She was nice there too.
While my first wife was generally more Yang than Yin, she was equal to circumstance seemingly always: academically; and in her fluency with several languages; in her musicianship and as a school teacher, headmistress and university instructor. There simply were no longer grounds for me to stay the course of the less-than party line.
Oops. This actually began when I was nine when my older brothers and I got a sister. I was ecstatic when she arrived. She and I were and remain closely connected. Never understood this until the last few years when I realized that I was head-over-heels in love with the Feminine. No, I don’t know all of what this means. Nonetheless, it is the case.
What I’m leading to is bigger than the individual women mentioned. Bigger than all of us. It’s about letting go. It is about lifting the boot from female throats. It’s about ending the folly of women being less than. It is this: Our releasing girls and women from the place they’ve been relegated becomes the fulcrum providing the precise leverage to free ourselves individually, and what we regard as the world-out-there, from the humanity’s most insidious and pernicious juggernaut—which is imperiling us all. That’s a mouthful.
Intellectually indefensible? Yes!
I do not offer this at the expense of men but rather advisory: Without each of us, women and men, lifting the boot of patriarchy, men cannot remove it from themselves… nor free humanity from its encumbrance…the one impeding decency.
P.S. Look to the bodies of work of these authors:
Aimie K. Runyan for lauding unsung heroines
Sara Pascoe for educating us on decency and gender
This piece is for my sister…