The Female Narrative Of Control

I was born female 70+ years ago. I was raised to “act like a girl”.  There were rules about being a girl and I was told that it would be wise to learn those rules.  

We hear, today, about “Critical Race Theory” which is an “examination of race and U.S. law and to challenge approaches to racial justice.”  It seems that certain things may be left out of the collective knowledge, and left out on purpose to create a narrative to control a population.

I think that the same thing was/has been done with the female narrative.  Now, after spending 70+ years studying what I often felt were rules that didn’t square with a rationale mind, I have this list of teachings passed down from the previous generation to me. I’ll call it “The Female Narrative of Control.”

  • Girls need to act like girls which meant in my lifetime 1) don’t walk anywhere after dark alone.  You’re just asking to get raped. 2) don’t wear revealing clothes.  Again, you’re just asking to be raped, 3) don’t flirt or otherwise act suggestively because you might send the wrong message, 4) but also don’t use vulgar language or act too bossy because that will turn off the boys.  Be sweet.  Be gentle.
  • Follow the dress code.  In school, it was about how long or short a girl’s skirt was (we were only allowed to wear pants on special days),  how low or not low a top could be, how tight clothes could be, etc. This was all meant to not distract the boys.
  •  
  • Girls are weaker than boys – 1) that was the reason given for putting the girls on back breaking conveyor belts at my factory job while the boys were taught to run a forklift. 2) Pumping gas had to be handled by boys for the same reason.  Too tough a job for a girl,  plus a girl wouldn’t want to smell like gas.
  • Girls do not deserve to be paid at the same rate as boys because 1) boy jobs are harder, 2) girl jobs are less valued 3) boys need to be the breadwinner.  It would hurt their ego if the girl earned more than he did.
  • Girls are not as smart as boys.  We’ve never been any good at math or science you know. And we are too emotional to hold any kind of high level job.
  • Boys are more athletic and therefore more interesting to watch in sporting events.  Therefore, they are, to this day, paid more to play professional sports. I remember being told that people would never be interested in watching female sports.
  • If a girl got pregnant outside of marriage, it was the girl who was at fault. 
  • 1) she clearly asked for it,
  • 2) she should have controlled herself and the situation because we all knew that “boys will be boys”.
    3) the girl had to hide her “situation” so as not to embarrass the family.
    4) the girl was not allowed to finish her school year and was not allowed to graduate with her class in public.
    5) the girl was the one who bore the burden of being pregnant, giving birth, and then raising the child or making a decision to give this child up for adoption after carrying it for nine months. It was her fault after all.
  • This all leads me to the news today out of Texas. Seventy years later, we are still controlling girls.  Oh, I’ve followed all the Back To School pictures and for sure some things have changed.  Girls can now wear short shorts and midriff tops to school. And, I know for a fact that girls athletic teams draw sizable audiences though they still are not paid as equals. Women are now allowed to drive fork lifts and we all pump our own gas without help from a man, and we came close to actually having a female President. But some things still have not changed.

When it comes to sex, it seems that the girl still has to be the one to control herself.  She has to be the one to avoid risky situations that could lead to rape.  She is the one who carries the burden of not getting pregnant. All the while playing in the background are ads that tell women to stay skinny, make sure your hair and clothing are beautiful and flattering and wear makeup because apparently you are not pretty enough without it.  While men’s ads are about Viagra.  

And now, Texas has decided that a woman and/or her doctor are not smart enough to judge the need for an abortion.  A woman must allow a pregnancy to continue unabated.  Her body is less important.  Her life is less important!

And so there you have it.  70 years later, and we are where we began.  The Female Narrative of Control.  

Juneteenth – June 19

Thunder rolls across the sky this morning. Feels symbolic of all that it’s taken to get us, as a country, to this day. June 19, 1866 was the day that slaves in Texas were actually told they were free; a full two years after the emancipation! Juneteenth became a celebration commemorating that day. But yesterday, it became a recognized Federal Holiday. 155 years later.

And it happens during a year marked with protests that erupted across the states for justice for Black men seemingly being targeted by White policemen. Black Lives Matter became a slogan on t-shirts, posters, flags, yard signs and more. That slogan drew anger from Trump (then president), his supporters, and other far right extremist groups who countered back with “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter”.

But the simple fact is Black people have been the ones unjustly treated even though they were supposedly freed 155 years ago. And now to top it off, many states are demanding that schools stop teaching “Critical Race Theory”. At a time when awareness is finally growing regarding segregation, impacts of an unequal criminal justice system, and the legacy of enslavement of Black Americans.

And the thunder rolls

Critical Race Theory was actually part of a legal analysis done in the 70’s and 80’s highlighting examples of situations that caused disparity for Black people. Today, these disparities live on through discrimination tactics surrounding things like affordable housing limits in predominately White neighborhoods. So, it’s hard to claim that Critical Race Theory is a school curriculum thing but that’s where states have landed. Put the issue on the schools to balance and we’ll be the watch dogs to ban anything that we feel shines a negative light on White people.

And as I write that, the thunder subsides. We are a country founded on principles of skewed equality and justice. And if exposed, it will mean leveling a field that we don’t want leveled.

The emancipation freed slaves but sent them out into an angry mob. And when the slaves tried to work their way to states that seemed more accepting, they were met with rules; neighborhoods designed just for them to live segregated from White’s, schools funded by property taxes distributed by wealth so poor neighborhoods would have less quality education keeping poor people poor, laws that unfairly incarcerated more Black people than any other with long prison sentences to “Keep them off the streets”. And all of this has allowed White people to continue to view Black people as apparently lazy, drug addicted criminals.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Juneteenth ended up being a real emancipation for people of color. Instead, the official holiday was signed into law as states are working overtime to restrict voter rights and now close discussions in schools that might hint at an understanding of how racist this country really is.

Oh The Places I’ll Sit

The sun is shining
The temperature is warm
So get out of that chair
It’s gotten impressionistically warn!

Time to get up, get out, 
Put on your shoes and get on your way
I feel the energy
This is going to be a great day!

I go to my woods
I’m ready to walk
But then…I see a robin
Who seemed to want to talk.

 So I sat on a stump
And chatted a bit
I have to admit
It felt good to sit.

But no!   I’m here to get moving
Let’s get back up and go
Well…then I saw the creeping phlox
Putting on this incredible show

I had to take a moment
Just to enjoy it’s delicate charm
I felt that sitting just a bit
Wouldn’t do any harm

Then up I get.  Time to go
I’m movin’ right along
Listening to this bird and that
Enjoying their individual song.

Oh… but wait,
There’s a willow just beginning to weep
How can I not take a moment
The power of this sight so deep.

 Then a waterfall! reminded me
Keep moving. Get on your way
It was so loud and insistent
OK, OK, OK!

I’m walking,
I’m walking.
Working up a sweat

But then…. 

 I saw the turtle and
That was
The end of it! 

Look at the images in the water ripples. What do you see?

 The turtle message is crystal clear
Slow down.
Savor all the little bits
And so…I sit!

The Photos are Mine. The Poem is Mine, but…

The title of the poem has a nod to Dr. Seuss. I just thought that was fun. So then I took pictures of things as I walked and really didn’t look at them closely until I brought them up on my computer. And then, there in the ripples of the water were two characters. I googled Dr. Seuss characters and Yertle the Turtle comes pretty close to the character on the left and although there were no particular dog characters that matched, there was an archived book that came out in July, 2015 that’s called “What Pet Shall I Get”. Dr. Seuss was a dog lover.

What To Do With Insights

I picked up a previous journal by mistake this morning. It opened to the following:

Written June 2020

I had this moment of clarity last night. Now, while I have written in a journal on and off for a few years, I sometimes think my insights are profound enough to share. I have yet to have many people confirm that though and so this morning, as I write about this, I am suddenly answered with:

“Yes but have the insights helped you?”

That stopped me in my tracks. Hello? Who’s talking to me?

“Have the insights helped you?”

it asked again!

“Yes. Yes they have!”

Then the thought continued:

“Well if the insight has helped you then it has done it’s job. Have you grown? Did you feel guided?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes.” I replied

“Well good,” it went on. “Now burn all those past journals. Who do you think will actually want to spend their moments reading about your moments?”

The Power of Journal Writing

The power of journal writing comes when you share your thoughts in a journal and the journal responds! You know you’ve transcended.

I read, awhile back, about the concept of Morning Pages. Julia Cameron wrote about it. Write 3 pages a day, in long hand, every day. Write whatever enters your mind. Keep writing even when you feel you have nothing to share. It’s usually at the very end of the third page where inspiration/insight will leap onto the page.

Insights. Lightbulb Moments!

Probably obvious to others but might be a revelation to you. It’s those moments that inspire a new way of thinking, a new direction. It might be an inspiration that opens a door or maybe just a window with a different view.

My journal writing experience has brought so many aha moments that I have been endlessly entertained but this one jumps out at me.

“Why would others want to spent their moments reading about your moments?”

I’m reflecting on this in my journal this morning and I am now at the bottom of page three and here is what I think…

  • Sometimes someone else’s words help to formulate your thoughts.
  • Sometimes someone else’s experiences resonate with your own and you no longer feel alone or lost
  • Sometimes spending time in someone else’s moments helps develop new insights for you.

And so, although the journal suggested that I burn my previously recorded moments, I did not. Journal after journal stacked high. If someone chooses to spend their moments reading my moments, that will be their choice.

In the meantime, I am happily writing 3 pages a day and letting my journal lead me to my next insight.

Painting With Words

My Creation Station

I have been having fun with a poetry group during this pandemic. Writing one or more poems a week is a good challenge. Throughout the election and the painful weeks leading up to and including the Inauguration, January 20, 2021, many of my poems spoke of fear and anger and frustration. Then, along came Amanda Gorman with her beautiful, bright, truthful but optimistic poem “The Hill We Climb”, and our group was lit on fire!

I Started To Write – Really Write

First I wanted to write a poem like her’s. I wanted it to tell a story. I listened to how she read that poem over and over again and marked up my printed version with hashmarks every time she took a breath. Then I’d practice reading her words out loud, breaking where she broke, running one sentence into another, pausing to emphasize certain words and I realized that hearing the poem, hearing her read it, made the poem come alive!

Hearing The Words

Hearing the words of the poem sounded so much different/better than simply trying to read the words. And I realize that has been what our poetry group has been for each other. We write then we read it out loud to the group. We can emphasize, pause, and then reflect on the poem when finished. It’s magical!

Now WordPress Had A Podcast Version

So there I was, scrolling through my emails when I see one from WordPress saying that I could easily turn anyone of my blogs into a podcast using Anchor. Now, I’m a curious sort of person so I had tried Anchor once before thinking it would be fun to join the podcast craze but I didn’t last long. But now, the idea of marrying my poems with a podcast seems absolutely perfect. So I’m going to give it a try with this week’s poem(s).

WordPress, if this works, I will be a very happy blog/podcast aspiring poet!

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Will I Have Enough?

So much time spent in a state of worry and doubt and fear. So much energy spent on this question.

Will I have enough money?

Will I have enough time?

Will I have enough energy?

Will I have enough…

Have I learned enough?

Am I smart enough!

ENOUGH!

Change the words. And change your mindset.

I am worthy…

of enough money, time, energy.

I am deserving

of abundance.

Stop Wasting Time On Worry

Worry, doubt, and fear are roadblocks. Get up! Stand tall! Allow abundance to fill your body and your mind. Open the door to it.

Can you feel the fresh air? Can you feel your body relax? Can you just imagine how this new sense of abundance will breathe new life into your body?

Say it over and over again.

I deserve abundance. I am worthy.

Then, turn your “Will I have…” questions into

“I have enough money.”

“I have enough time.”

“I have enough energy.”

“I have enough!”

I have enough. I am enough. I am worthy. All is well with my world.

Saying “Yes” To Your Life

How many times have you been told “No” and you allowed that simple word to stop you?

Over my many years, I have entered into areas where someone thought I didn’t belong.

Going to college. Getting a divorce. These are two that leap to my consciousness right now. There were many smaller events as well. Little things that told me that I was not worthy of having that thing, going that direction, being with that person. Well intentioned people who tried to block my life from happening. I have done it, as well, to others, I have to admit. Somehow thinking that we know better how someone is supposed to play out their life’s journey keeps us busily away from seriously focusing on our own.

Rules, Protocols, Traditions, Beliefs

There are all these rules, protocols, traditions, beliefs along your journey that you feel obligated to uphold. And so you do… until some defining moment when something stronger intervenes. It’s a pull, a push, a strong sensation that no matter what others think or believe, you are destined to do something different. And while others are shouting “No, No, No”, there is a stronger voice that’s louder; “It’s time. It’s time. It’s time.”

It’s Time!

It’s these times, when you go against all logic, all learned behavior, all past traditions, and you follow destiny. These are the moments when you accept YOU. Not someone else’s vision of you but you, the one unique being that God created you to be. And, later, while looking in that rear view mirror, you are somehow surprised! How did I get here? How was I so fortunate? How did I manage to make this happen?

It was destiny’s push that filled your brain with a positive message. Words that strongly repeated “Yes, I can!”, while others were saying “No.”

“Yes I Can”

Words of confirmation: “I am capable”. “I am smart.” “I am worthy!” Marching orders. Repeat them. Shout them out loud as you put one foot in front of the other and move…forward!

I Have One Life

And it belongs to me. I have been put on this earth to carry out some mission. I am unique just like you are unique. My mission was predetermined before I was born. I believe that I have spent most of my life trying to figure out what that mission actually was supposed to be. It’s taken me a lifetime to realize that I had choices every single step of the way. And it has been those choices that either held me back or opened me up to the life I am supposed to live.

So Begin Today

Today, I will begin. I will say “Yes” to my life as it unfolds. I will not throw up barriers. I will not let fear or judgement close doors that were presented for me to open. It’s never to late to say “Yes” to your life. It’s never too late.

I am capable!

I am smart!

I am worthy!

Checking My White Privilege In The Mirror

Remember the Pandemic – That Virus?

Well it hasn’t gone away. But the nice weather had people out protesting “Stay at Home” orders. Men, fully wrapped in their weaponry; marching, pushing their way into State Capital buildings in protest. The president said “These are good people. They’re just angry. Let them speak.” The police stood back…gave them space. Some states then lifted the stay at home orders and opened beaches, parks, some businesses, even bars in some places. And people rushed to them. FREE AT LAST to get the virus or not. “My body. My choice!” They had been heard!

New cases of the virus continue. Latest report says that there are at least 100,000 a day. The death toll is now almost 110,000 in the US.

But Then Something Else Happened

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46 year old black man, died in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while he was handcuffed and face down on the street. His offense apparently was that he had passed a counterfeit $20 bill. The entire incident was recorded by a bystander on her cell phone. According to what we see on the video, Mr. Floyd never seemed combative but he was still taken to the ground. Derek Chauvin held him down with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck even as Mr. Floyd cried out “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” The officer held his position while three other officers stood by until Mr. Floyd was non-responsive. The video was then shared on social media as yet another example of police brutality. Yet another! This was extremely hard to watch!

A New Protest – A Real Protest

This time, this video turned into a flashpoint for communities across the country to go to the streets in protest. In the early nights, those protests turned into riots and looting. Stories circulated that this destruction was being instigated by either White Supremist groups (far right) or Antifa (far left). The thought is that the intent was to make the Black protesters look bad. But cell phones were at work highlighting the faces of the instigators. White people. White people were starting the destruction, throwing the first brick.

Some states called for help from their National Guard and the president activated the military riot units to guard the White House. Tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and brute force were used. At one point a large military contingency was used to move peaceful protestors back so the president could cross the street to have his picture taken standing in front of a church and holding up a bible. He has yet to speak to the country with any sort of understanding and reassurance that the protestors voices are being heard. Instead, he has erected an 8 foot tall fence around the perimeter of the White House and has instructed the state’s governors to “Get tough” with the protestors otherwise they will “look foolish”.

Waking Up To A New Reality

People are outraged and more and more officers are being suspended from duty for using excessive force. While police brutality and the death of George Floyd are the focus of the protests, there are other spotlights shining down on…white privilege and systemic racism as a whole. It’s in the spotlight that I find myself being totally uncomfortable. And I’m writing this as my own reflection. I have never seen myself as racist and condemn the acts of White Supremacy but still right now I need to question my white privilege.

Here Are My Thoughts

We are a country who has turned it’s collective back on inequality, let whole populations of minority races live in poverty, brought undocumented immigrants into the country to toil in our fields and clean our resorts. We have let our education system be funded by property taxes knowing full well that wealthy districts can develop great schools while poor districts just get what they can afford. Health care is also based on ability to pay. Poorer paying jobs have little or no health insurance while better paying jobs provide Cadillac coverage. So is it any wonder why more Black people have died from Corona Virus?

At one point, the president signed an executive order to demand that meat packers coming from facilities with high incidents of the virus must return to work. No orders to make sure the facility was following any kind of protective guidelines, just “return to work”. Guess who works primarily in meat packing plants? They are primarily minority people.

A spotlight has been turned on us! White people are standing in this light naked, still holding on to pandemic protest signs that read “I Need A Haircut”.

We, who hoarded toilet paper and filled our freezers with meat while still demanding that the shelves be stocked daily so that they were ready for our next frantic buying spree.

We, who for years, have blamed Black people for not “lifting themselves up by their bootstraps” to get themselves out of poverty, while ignoring the pleas for a living wage. Grocery store workers, meat packers – deemed “Essential Workers” during the quarantine, probably don’t make $15.00 an hour.

We, who watched as a black football player took a knee in a respectful quiet way to protest police brutality. We didn’t support him when his protest caused him to lose his job. We didn’t support him when his protest was turned into “disrespecting the flag”. We didn’t support other football players who were told to stand or else during the National Anthem. This protest was not allowed because it was causing people to turn away from football. It was deemed too offensive.

We, who have watched multiple videos and heard multiple accounts of black people being gunned down for looking suspicious, maybe reaching for a weapon, or running away. Some have been even killed in their own homes! We have let the outrage be carried by black communities while we stayed quiet. And when charges were dropped, which they almost always are, we believed that justice must have been served because we simply did not have all the facts.

We, who allowed cries that “Black Lives Matter” be replaced with “All Lives Matter” and stayed quiet as yard signs and bumper stickers popped up everywhere that said “Blue Lives Matter”, systematically diminishing the whole original message.

Our privileged silence gave permission to white supremacy. We have looked the other way because we, too, did not want to lose our place in society. This place we feel we’ve worked so hard to attain. But did we really? Or were doors opened for us because… we’re white?

I’ve guided my own daughters through adulthood to believe that life is about choices and doors are presented. It’s up to us to choose to walk through them or not.

But now, I see that as the purest example of White Privilege that exists. We Have Choices! We Have Doors That Open! No one is blocking our path. Even our fear is mostly self imposed.

So, now that we are standing here naked, totally exposed for our privileged selves, what are we to do? Well, we have choices, now, don’t we.

  1. We could scream and shout, blaming others for exposing our nakedness or,
  2. We could run from this light and hope that it will be turned off so we can go back to “our normal”,
  3. Or we can admit that we’re ashamed, embarrassed and disgusted with the way we look in this light. And we’d like a chance to get dressed again. Now we may not dress right initially because we’ve been in the dark for a long time, but we’d like to try. We want to learn. We want to listen. We want to help. We want to say that our supremacy was wrong. We want to share the abundance of this country to raise everyone up. We want to unlock doors so everyone has choices. Hopefully, we can find peaceful ways to communicate. Maybe we can even put our guns away! We need to listen more. Listen more, fight less. Listen more, talk less. Listen more. Listen more. Listen more.

We might even be able to make this the new definition of “Make America Great Again.”

I am standing here, now, looking at this person, honestly, in the mirror. I have let myself go. I stopped paying attention for some reason. I let myself rationalize that there was nothing I could do anymore. Now, I am being honest with this person. All the white privilege that exists in my closet right now needs to be replaced.

Checking In On Your “Busy”

“Stay At Home” Order

You know how it is when someone dies?  How all of your scheduled “busy” rushes before your eyes until you check yourself?  Someone just died!  Your “busy” is not important right now.  NOT IMPORTANT AT ALL!  And in that moment, you stop! Stunned by the realization that nothing really matters more, at this moment, than this loss.

Dealing With The Loss Of “Normal”

And you cry, first for the person but then for yourself.  Your loss!  Nothing will be the same again.

And you go through the days filling in the empty with arrangements.  Who will take care of that person’s “busy”?  Who will want to know and cry along with you?  They will want to grieve their loss too. You keep yourself wrapped up in this world of grief and loss and sadness and anger and denial and blame for as long as it takes: an isolation imposed on you until everything is made right or as close to right as can happen.

Acceptance

But then something else happens.  The sun comes up.  You look at it, surprised!  Doesn’t the sun know that nothing is supposed to be the same anymore?  But there it is, shining; filling the day with brightness.  You can’t help but smile!  That sun seems to be smiling at you too, reminding you that things do go on.

And then you hear the birds, They’re singing!  “Now is not the time!” you start to say but then you stop yourself.  Why not sing now? Why not let yourself feel joy? Why shouldn’t you take in this moment?

After all, this moment, that sunshine, those birds are there as a gift for you.

This moment, that sunshine, those birds.

Oh I know. They weren’t in you schedule; your list of “busy”.  But they’re there now.

Make a New Normal

Maybe they always were.  You just didn’t take the time to notice. Now that you notice though perhaps they should be put into your schedule. You’ve been given a chance to redefine your list of “busy”.

Out of every loss comes a new normal.

 

#She Persisted

I had a dream last night, the kind that stick with you after you wake.

I was looking for a tool to scrap old paint off my windows and there it was the perfect thing at a neighbors house. I asked to use it saying I’d even pay for its use. He said sure and then felt a need to add “Probably you can get your son-in-law to help you with the job.” Now it was just a scraper and I just looked at him! He said, “Well, do you want to rent it or not?” And I said, “I’m sorry, I just have to get over my feelings about you assuming that I’d need help to use a scraper!” And he returned that same confused look back to me! And then I woke up.

Even laying there awake, I was agitated. Why are women still not viewed as capable? And I sadly thought of the announcement that Elizabeth Warren was dropping out of the presidential campaign. Why had she not gained the traction that she needed? She was smart, eloquent, prepared. Still, there was a fear that she could not stand up to the likes of Donald Trump. Still have to fight man to man?

I raised two girls and now am watching three more baby girl grandchildren grow in this world that has battled with the simple idea of equality. I have shared story after story with my daughters about how I was raised to assume a female role of housekeeping and childcare while protecting a man’s self esteem. I told them and showed them that we were smart too, that we had every capability that a boy has and all we had to do was march out into the world with confidence.

Two divorces later, I can still hear my brother’s warning: Be careful not to surpass your husband at work. It will hurt his ego.” I had surpassed both of them. I was still confident. I had a right to grow just as much as they did. One husband used emotional abuse to try to hold me back, and the other just quit his job and took up residence on a local barstool. My desire to be the best I could be in my field had, indeed, lead them to believe that they were somehow worthless.

And so here we go again, we had the opportunity to show our daughters and granddaughters that an intelligent woman could lead us and we caved, too worried that a woman can’t take on a man even though the woman is better prepared. What do we actually say to our baby girls? We say, “She persisted and so will we.”