The Gender Trap

While there have been huge progressive leaps in Law and a softening by some religions and cultures, many, if not most women, will still experience some degree of misogyny and sexual aggression: it is quite likely they will have felt intimidated and abused at least once by a man and they will certainly have felt patronised. Considering the news out of India, Africa and the Middle East recently, I appreciate that this is a western understatement because, although too many western men (and some women) still hold this patriarchal mindset, millions of women are literally imprisoned by a near-inescapable religious/cultural force: the perception of Woman as either the angel on the pedestal or the whore on the floor.

Those women are consistently deemed as unreliable witnesses to their own lives – as though truth was no more their property than were their bodies. It speaks to the concept that men can behave according to their natures but that women must have their natures determined for them. This is an inauthentic state of being, with consequences for self-identification and esteem which guarantees a superficial path in which motherhood may contain the only potential for a life of any depth. Under such cultural/religious dogma, the female is reduced to a two-dimensional construct: a doll whose dissatisfaction or abuse is merely collateral damage – to say nothing of the violence so many endure.

This is a medieval expression of how men view the “dangerous” or dark aspect of the feminine principle: through their perceptions of women as irresistible and deliberate temptresses. This is the self-corruption of men who blame women for their own lack of control or desire for brutal domination. The fear that women are dangerous haunts those men while their desire for women to be perfect and malleable haunts the women. Men would contain the light and discard the shadow rather than recognise a woman’s need, indeed any human’s need to reconcile the two. The irony is marvellous: that each sex should feel their gender to be in a hell, both of patriarchal engineering and man’s so-called ‘natural’ instincts. It is as though the straitjacket of misguided and unbearable expectations of a patriarchal world have placed such a burden on its female populace that Patriarchy itself has inadvertently destroyed that which it so treasures.

In the West – in Law at least, women have made gains yet they are still judged by their distance from the ancient pedestal. Often by other women. Women still struggle to maintain self-esteem in the face of self-doubt. Every woman given limelight is categorised according to the superficial standards of appearance and weight. Their life choices and difficulties are up for inspection, judgement and ridicule, not just by the community but to global scale and grotesquely supported by the Media. And just look at America, where renewed and determined efforts are underway to again strip women of their rights over their bodies. Have you noticed how religious extremists are always more concerned for the souls of those they victimise than for their own? Or the debates over the right to walk down the street and not be accosted because your dress is ‘provocative’ or because you’ve foolishly drunk more than you can handle; someone decides that something about you is so tempting that you must surely be ‘asking for it’ or at least expecting ‘it’. The argument is always too much concerned with the woman’s conduct. Personally, I would caution any female to think about her attire and behaviour but actually, she should be safe even if she is naked and passed out drunk.

Women’s suffrage and the feminist movement have facilitated changes in laws and social employment policies etc which acknowledge and respect equality, but the antiquated attitudes of power and predation they fought against still abide within all spheres of experience. I though, have always felt that the Movement was highjacked somewhat and rather let down by those who mistook replication of the masculine as the only vehicle for and proof of equality. I always baulked at the idea of such foolish imitation: I always imagined that all I had to do was to be.

I was born in the Sixties. I learned about the women before me and I watched the pioneers of my own time. And though they made huge inroads; their motives justified and their action overdue, it was the Law that afforded me my rights and not my community. The community was just a platform on which angry, contemptuous and fearful men ridiculed the fascistic arguments of extremists who, as usual were getting the most attention. I have to say too, that some women I encountered backed up such men quite viciously. If you reached for or assumed equality back then you were automatically accused of being a lesbian or a freak of nature: a betrayer of your sex. Yes, that’s how much of a clue some men and women had! And how ridiculous! That is as bad as stereotyping and categorising men according to their masculinity or effeminacy. And any jokes aside, dear Reader, but is this not an essence of the equality issue? It is just as easy for a woman to emasculate a man as it is for a man to infantilise a woman precisely because the rigid assignment of gender roles at the particular expense of one sex, informs the layers of stereotyping. Have men too, not been boxed in by the patriarchal model? What if they are not the ‘strong’ one in a crisis, the alpha in their circle, brave, practical – straight, even? Are they not still men? Intelligence, mental strength, emotional capacity, aggression, timidity, compassion, predation, selfishness etc – these are not gender specific – it was the permission to express them that was.

It’s about time that men and women saw each other as people rather than by a set of gender-based characteristics to be projected and acted upon according to Society’s narrow expectations. It’s surely well understood by now, or it should be, that women are as varied in nature, character and outlook as the other gender. If feminism is to mean anything, it should include this reality. Being equal to men requires nothing more than being a woman. Being Human, in fact.

I came into the world assuming I already had equality. I’ve never questioned it, though many men wanted me to and treated me as less – and some women, too. Maybe I just got lucky in my upbringing and education (it’s always the upbringing and education, isn’t it?), but I have never thought or felt myself to be less equal to any class of man. I’m a human being, therefore I am equal. Simple. Or did racism teach us nothing about such arbitrary nonsense? Society must learn that when it comes to equality, it’s as irrelevant what qualities a gender possesses and expresses as is the colour of a human’s skin. We are equal. And that is that. If a woman, married or single, wants to prioritise the Hearth Stone, she is no less equal to the single professional career woman or the female ‘breadwinner’ – just as the man who tends the home and children is no less equal to the builder, lawyer… whatever. Neither is superior to the other. Not of either sex; not within the sexes. If a woman doesn’t want children, it is her prerogative: it’s not some weird mystery or rebellious spite. Motherhood is not an inevitable desire for all women and for some, it is not even possible, so stop interrogating them because it is nosey and cruel. She is not a traitor or a failure.

A ‘real’ woman and a ‘real’ man are simply those who step into their own power and embrace their own selves as authentic human beings, walking their own talk as best they can, without apology. It’s better to be concerned about whether you like yourself than whether you match with Society’s approval of the way you reflect your gender. And yes, I know fine well that it’s easier said than done but it doesn’t stop it being true.

Respect for both men and women – and all sexualities expressed thereof – starts with respect for oneself and for human beings generally. We are automatically equal by virtue of our species. Through supportive Media, conversation and education we can instil into our children that their bodies and minds are their own; that no one has a right to either without their willing consent; that they must discern their own personal boundaries as they grow into adulthood; to respect that the boundaries of others may not be the same. Nothing will change if we don’t tap into our emotional intelligence and facilitate it in our young.

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In Tune with the Infinite

I just want to share this extract from Ralph Waldo Trine’s

 In Tune with the Infinite 

“Let there be many windows in your soul

That all the glory of the universe

May beautify it. Not the narrow pane

Of one poor creed can catch the radiant rays

That shine from countless sources. Tear away

The blinds of superstition; let the light

Pour through fair windows broad as truth itself

And high as Heaven.

Why should the spirit peer

Through some priest-curtained orifice, and grope

Along dim corridors of doubt, when all

The splendour from unfathomed seas of space

Might bathe it with their golden seas of love?

Sweep up the debris of decaying faiths,

Sweep down the cobwebs of worn-out beliefs,

And throw your soul wide open to the light

Of reason and of knowledge. Tune your ear

To all the wordless music of the stars,

And to the voice of nature, and your heart

Shall turn to truth and goodness, as the plant

Turns to the sun. A thousand unseen hands

Reach down to help you from their peace-crowned heights,

And all the forces of the firmament

Shall fortify your strength. Be not afraid

To thrust aside half-truths and grasp the whole.”

 

A Mother’s Work

This is naturally worded towards the female gender, by virtue of tradition. However, if you are a man with whom any of this resonates, I hope you will consider yourself automatically included where relevant.

A great irony has occurred over the last few decades. Time was that the working mother was frowned upon and her ‘latch-key’ children pitied. Today, societal expectations and governmental policies have instilled a sense of guilt in the woman if she doesn’t want to work while her children are actually children. She is found wanting, accused of not pulling her weight; not showing a good work ethic to her offspring; not contributing to the justification of her monetary worth. Why? Because she makes her children her primary purpose: her occupation – her career? This development is just as insidious and detrimental to the well-being of children, mothers and Community as the spiteful, reverse demonisation of those who worked in the Seventies and Eighties. But for the working mother and particularly the lone parent, her guilt is in the eternal catch-22: that of either spreading herself too thinly, thus feeling inadequate in both spheres of life, or, just as likely, pretty much neglecting one sphere in favour of the pressure from the other.

The accelerating pressures of our lives can have done little to assuage this guilt and yet it has been pushed to one side by the theorists, the Media and consecutive governments who have fallen over themselves to endorse the mythical status of the perfectly accomplished woman: the woman who can do everything and be everything, brilliantly. Really? Isn’t that just crazy talk? I mean: yes, of course women “can have it all” – but surely not all at once? Not successfully?

I’d rather we didn’t insist on mothers being stay-at-home types or force them out to work. One size doesn’t fit all and why would we want it to? That just leads to unhappy, less effective people. And yet this is exactly what our government is achieving. And yet again, it’s the poorest and the least powerful who find themselves without a choice. Yet again the Conservatives, the so-called party of family and strong moral compass, are destroying the very fabric upon which such values are built.

The next generation are the future, the continuum of the human race and your children are your personal legacy. Not your property, but the living arrows of your bow, to paraphrase Kahlil Gibran. Could there really be any task more worthy or vital? Now, I don’t think it’s wrong to work just because you have children: this isn’t about denigrating working mothers; but neither is it inaccurate to see your parenting as highly valuable work. Wanting to be the default carer and guide for your own children is most certainly not something to be ashamed of. After all, they’re not called dependants for nothing. If it doesn’t matter who raises them; if it isn’t healthier to have diversity; if the mother doesn’t know her child best, we might as well just grow them in anonymous incubators, stamp them with a code and send them off to processing plants.

As I’ve written, previously:

Where is the sense in a society that forces single parents out to work for such low wages that they still require top-up benefits so that someone else, who may not be your idea of a suitable surrogate parent and who may not even like the job, can also be paid a pittance to look after your children? The same society which frets about family breakdown, quality time, modern pressures, neglected kids…

[‘Welfare Reform Scapegoats’
https://julijuxtaposed.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/welfare-reform-needs-scapegoats/ ]

I wonder… Wouldn’t that pittance of a wage be better offered directly to the primary care-giver as a modest stipend for not needing all this bitty but generic and expensive childcare? It would give lone parents and low-waged couples, a viable option. It would say that we value not just the child, but the parent too. And the childcare business that survived would probably be of a better, more personal quality. It’s short-sighted to view this as something for nothing. It is not. Society complains constantly about its breakdown; about the poverty that initiates and exacerbates its ills, only to resist the most obvious solution in favour of yet another false economy. It’s hang-wringing followed by pettiness, followed by some complicated new policy which is ineffective and always costs more than its budget, followed by more hand-wringing. Well, perhaps some things are worth throwing money at because the alternatives are unthinkable. If it could just be accepted that the Hearth Stone is as essential to Humanity as good planetary stewardship is to Earth’s ecosystem – that would at least be a good start.

Do you remember?

Do you remember when you were young:
When they sold us a future in which everyone
Would have more time for leisure and
Life’s simple pleasures?

I do.

I remember how ‘progress’ was sold as the shift
Toward treasured Modernity’s time-saving gifts.
I remember when ‘free time’ were not dirty words,
But the envy of those who knew it was absurd
To work hard for The Man, at the cost of your Soul;
To neglect your own senses to fit in a mould;
To conform to consensus and stick to the path
Laid out in perpetuity – however daft…

And yet,

Where does the time go and how is it spent,
But by serving The Man just to pay him more rent?
And while faster goes quicker and more becomes less
Of a joy than a measure of burden and stress,
We regress to Draconia’s cold, hostile age
As a new class of servants with masters who wage
On us their aspirations for their private nation.

Obnoxious concoctions and new imitations
Of outdated thinking, consigned long ago
To the scrapyard of ignorant, privileged foes.
Resurrected prescribers and makers of woe
Who would keep us distracted and chained by the nose
To a grindstone which cripples and overly loads
On our bodies and minds and the whole of our time
Is spent rushing and pushing and fleeing and fighting
To be the first one to the end of the line.

Dear Coalition of Conservatives

Why are you allowing the poor to be blamed for being poor?

What you disingenuously term “Welfare”, known previously (though inconveniently to you) as Social Security, is so expensive because the basic cost of living is so ridiculously high and gainful employment so scarce, that increasing numbers of citizens are dependent upon it.

That is not the fault of the poor, whether they are retired, fully employed, underemployed, or unemployed. But you know this fine well.

You’re right that the system is a mess. What system isn’t, for Pity’s Sake! One by one the veils have been lifted from our institutions – including yours – and these structures – their ‘systems’ and interconnectedness of culpability, corruption and incompetence: this is something in which you have shared and it makes a mockery of your persistence in punishing and patronising those with the least control over their lives. What kind of government says “we’re all in it together” and pits one demographic against another? And what kind of government alternates between blaming the previous one and global factors as per convenience and yet, not only perpetuates those mistakes, but actively builds on them?

But anyway, the point is that this is the worst economic climate in which to initiate such sweeping reforms. I bet they’re even costing you – I mean us – more money than if you had just left well alone and sucked it up while you addressed the real issues. It disgusts me that you should scapegoat so many decent, earnest citizens for a few temporary votes and the placation of narrow and willing minds. Shame on you.

If there is an insufficient number of well-paid jobs then the Government of the day is obviously not doing theirs. Part-time, temporary and zero-hour contracts? Desperate people trying self-employment? The disabled expected to pick up your slack and stressed to breaking point? You can pat yourself on the back all you like over ‘a million new jobs’ and the higher tax threshold but they don’t bring in the revenue, do they? Why does a government always blame outwards and down? You should look upwards and at your own narrow and simplistic mindset because your social and economic policies reflect an enormous lack of understanding. Or is it a lack of interest? You must know that you demonstrate what’s either a complete detachment from reality or a selfish and stealthy commandeering of the lifeboats.

Please try some honest introspection and have another look at the real long-term cost and weight of your responsibilities. Not to your preservation, but to ours: We, the People. Recognise that some things cost Community a great deal more than money. Most people want to lead productive and creative lives. They want peace of mind. They don’t want to need ‘Welfare’. They want a decent job that pays enough to live well by and still contribute some tax because: do you know –  this has the extraordinary effect of making people feel like participants with a right to an opinion on the running of their country. Whether you approve or not. Is that the bit you hate? Democracy is so tedious for you, isn’t it?

If you genuinely want people to be better off working than being on benefits – even though you know damned well that most are working AND receiving benefits – then either ensure that wages rise or that the standard cost of living comes down. Significantly. You know what else needs doing: stop giving our future away to the banks in ethereal fiat; stop farming out our most basic needs and services to private, corporate monstrosities and foreign interests. It is the home populace to whom you should kowtow.

If “speculate to accumulate” is such a capitalist mantra, then why don’t you invest directly in us, the citizens? In the no-brainers like housing, infrastructure, repairs, health, education etc? You know… the things the People actually need and have asked for. Put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. (I and many others can give you a list of world-renowned and credible people to talk to about economics.)

We want grand-scale vision, integrity and sustainability – without the cynicism, the moral judgement and the slippery agenda. We don’t want progress to be for just a few, achieved on the backs of everyone else. Oh – and by the way – we don’t want it to be at the expense of other countries, either.

It’s all very well spouting on about sovereignty but the Sovereignty people really want is the ability to be heard and heeded and served by those who claim to represent them. And I don’t mean just those few who actually voted for you: I mean the entire nation. Anyway, you don’t even have a mandate for all this ideology so stop treating us as your fuel; fodder for your survival….

What a waste of power and influence you are! But you don’t care, do you, because you’re all set up nicely, as are your kith and kin. As much as you’d like to be regarded kindly by History and leave a respected legacy, I’m not sure you’ve thought it through. It won’t be a good legacy or even a neutral one – for either partner. You won’t win the next election, just like you couldn’t even win the last one, in spite of the spin you wove and the blankets you pulled over confused eyes. So why are you even bothering with all this ideological fancy? Why are you so intent on taking your “brief authority” out on the citizens? Does the thought of the peasants getting above their stations offend and threaten your superiority complex so awfully much?

Regards,

Quite a percentage, really.

We, The People

We, the People, we are the Nation,
The Soul of the Land in manifestation.
We are the stewards of all she bestows,
We are the yesterday, glued to tomorrow.

We are the Temple, the priests and the flock.
We are the method; the vehicles; the stock.
We are the warriors, artists and scribes,
The teachers, the healers, protectors and guides.

We are the source of the outcome we seek:
The Light and the Strength and the Hope that we need.
We are the draughtsmen and builders of Will.
We are the answer; the cure for our ills.

For we are the Soul and the hand of our fate
And we are the banners and trumpets of State.
Albion’s creatures in Sovereignty’s land:
We are the People – we are the Command.

There’s a Real War on ‘Welfare’

There’s a real war on ‘Welfare’
That just keeps accelerating
‘Coz the poor they are a-hating
And the others they are baiting
Into thinking it’s unfair
To our boys and girls ‘out there’ –

Like the poor done stole their share!
And the poor sods on the battlefields
Must surely realise

That they also are the pawns of lies,
Because they know when they come home
The ‘Welfare’ war becomes their own.

And those above the rank and file,
Prey to political guile,
Know fine well the likely score:
The money’s not for troops, but
For surveillance, drones and cyber war.