The Unfamiliar Family, A Green DogView


 

What is a family? How does a family come to be a family? Who is responsible for keeping the family together?

To me, the point of family is to nurture, protect and support  people and in exchange these people accept certain common ‘burdens’ such as doing tasks and looking out for each other even if it means not  putting yourself first always.

My birth family  (cousins, aunts and uncles)are normal people. They seem to get along well. They don’t particularly dislike me but I am not particularly welcome either.  They can take or leave me, like an extra potato chip left in a bowl.

As I was neither born nor raised in the same country as my cousins, it seems I was expected  to take the steps to reassure them that I am grateful for their ‘support’ and acknowledgement of my existence. It has always been like walking in the dark, never knowing if I was going to get it right or not. Unconditional love was not a given. Furthermore, there are many unwritten rules that everybody seems to know, agreed upon stories that, if questioned, relegate you to outsider status. This has taken me years to comprehend and I still don’t quite grasp it entirely.

I  suspected early on that I was an intruder of sorts and that I couldn’t rely on my family except for emergencies, that I would not be welcome to just stop by for coffee and a chat. I tried and the outcome left me numb and out of sorts.

It is unsettling to be made to feel  out of place in the one place where you should be accepted just because you are YOU.

Whether for this reason or not, I seem to be incapable of creating a sense of family. By this I mean inspiring those closest to me to be close to each other and to me. It seems I am good at fostering independent individuals but not a group identity. This would be less important if I had a group of my own, a tribe of sorts, made up of friends and neighbours. But again, I seem to not know how to do it. I have few friends and more often than not they are far away and we do  not communicate frequently. While I treasure these friendships which have survived decades and distance, it appears that the universe conspires to leave me without a support system nearby.

I have this theory that I must have belonged to a big family in another life, a rather nondescript child, neither the youngest nor the oldest;  nor the most beautiful or the most hideous.

I have always been adrift on the sea of life, understanding deep inside that I was perhaps the odd one out for a reason, unrelated to the ones I should be, unaccepted, unmoored from the safety of the family dock.

This also reflects on my friendships. I wouldn’t call myself shy, although I am an introvert. I am comfortable in my own company and find small talk only acceptable in equally small doses. I have never had more than one or two friends at a time, in spite of hanging out with larger groups at certain moments of my life.

Is it just me? I  often feel like a balloon floating in the sky, something that people point to but doesn’t really matter.

Can anyone relate to this in any way?

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unmoored/">Unmoored</a>

Women and Mothers, Teachers and Warriors


 

 

Women.

We are all daughters.

Some of us are sisters, mothers, wives, girlfriends, best friends and lovers.

We are powerful in and of ourselves. We bear life.

We sustain  relationships, families, nations,  empires.

I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, my sisters, my fearless warriors. In spite of so many pains, you get up, dust yourself off, and move forward. You uphold and nurture. You believe in the Goodness of Humanity. You believe firmly in tomorrow even when it is more an act of faith than an expected outcome.

Real Women see beyond mere appearance.  Real Women love generously. Real Women offer the gift of tender, tough, unbreakable loyalty. Real Women are fraught with struggles. Real women are in a certain way mothers too because they are aware of your intrinsic value as a person. Real women are nurturing to everyone who is around them.

Mothers add  to all those qualities a selflessness beyond what can be perceived at first glance. Often, sons and daughters will only be fully aware of this fact when they, in turn, become parents. Many of the sacrifices they make for the progress and well being of their ‘tribe’ are neither seen nor acknowledged. It may be as little as eating the hard bit of bread left over from yesterday’s supper or  as much as not applying for a job because it would mean too many hours away from your family. In fact, you might even be berated for it. Our aspiration is always to do things better.

We call our first language our ‘mother tongue’, we call our native country our ‘motherland’. The essence of women and our bond to everything human are the qualities that bestow depth and growth upon our world, both upon people and cultures. Perhaps that is why ‘smaller’ cultures are not respected and the traditions of our ancestors, however important or valuable, are vilified because they speak to us of roots and home and sacrifice, which are seen as superfluous or anecdotal in modern times.

I, for one, can truly say that most of the lessons I have learned in this life have been taught to me by remarkable women of all ages and conditions. They have held out their hand and told me their Truth. They have let me know that I am not alone. Sometimes, that is all I’ve needed.

So now, I wish to remind you  that you are not unseen or unheard, that nearby, perhaps next door, there is a woman who is going through the same things as you. You are strong and capable. Learn to see the marvels in you as easily as you see the marvels in others.

May you all be happy and radiant, as well you should. Reach out to each other. Pass on the knowledge that we are strong. Our joy is a gift to be treasured. Our pain is a treasure to be valued. Although many may see our smile, our laughter and our tears belong only to ourselves and to those who we carry in our hearts.

“The import is not the kind of work woman does, but rather the quality of the work she furnishes… Her development, her freedom, her independence, must come from and through herself. First, by asserting herself as a personality, and not as a sex commodity. Second, by refusing the right to anyone over her body; by refusing to bear children, unless she wants them; by refusing to be a servant to God, the State, society, the husband, the family, etc., by making her life simpler, but deeper and richer. That is, by trying to learn the meaning and substance of life in all its complexities, by freeing herself from the fear of public opinion and public condemnation. Only that, and not the ballot, will set woman free, will make her a force hitherto unknown in the world, a force for real love, for peace, for harmony; a force of divine fire, of life-giving; a creator of free men and women.

from ‘Woman Suffrage’- 1910
Emma Goldman, ‘Anarchism and Other Essays’

I dedicate this to my  two Mothers, the one who is no longer with me and the one  whom I say good bye  to a little each day.

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/better/">Better</a>

ANARCHA-FEMINISM * by Flick Ruby


 

For too long anarchist feminists have been labeled as the ladies auxiliary of male bomb throwers. The misconception and manipulation of both feminists and anarchist principles and practice have resulted in the use of sensationalist and ridiculing tactics by the state and its spokespeople. This has not only polarised the general populace from potentially liberation concepts but has also polarised anarchist from feminists. In the past and more so recently there has been a uniting of these beliefs and Peggy Korneggers article; ‘Anarchism; the Feminist Connection’ goes so far as to say that the two genres of thought are inextricable tied although the connection has not been consiously articulated by feminists very often. Kornegger agrues that feminism “emphasis on the small group as a basic organisational unit, on the personal and political, on anti- authoritarianism and on spontanious direct action was essentially anarchism. I believe that this puts women in a unique position of being the bearers of a subsurface anarchist consiousness which if articulated and concretised can take us further than any previous group toward the achievement of total revolution.

While anarchism has provided a frameword for the transformation required, for far too long even this revolutionary ideology has been largely male identified; male articulated, male targeted and male exclusive in both its language and participation. It has therefore been unfortunately lacking in vital analysis especially with regard to the psychological and physical realities of oppression experienced by the majority of the human population: women. As Emma Goldman said of the Spanish Revolution of 1936 “Despite the impressive rhetoric, most frequently male anarchists retreated to cultural orthodoxy in the personal relationships with women …The vast majority of Spanish comrades continued to expect their own “companions” to provide the emotionally supportive and submissive relationships “necessary” for the activism of the males”. Anarchism has often duplicated the very concepts of power it sought to obliterate . One of the basic tenants of anarchist feminism is that we are not prisoners of the past –

The past leads us if we force it to
Otherwise it contains us,
In its asylum with not gate
We make history or it makes us”

As anarchist feminist we are not asking men to attone for the sins of the forefathers, we are asking them to take responsibility for the masculinity of the future, we are not asking women to be perpetually aware of their opression but to emerge from it. Mostly we are not locating conflict with certain people rather than the kind of behaviour that takes place between them.

Anarchist feminism addresses these notions of power, attempts to criticise, envision and plan. Everything is involved in the question. However it is from a consious understanding of the lessons of the past that presses us into the future, however angry or embarrased. While it is not my intention to analyse in depth the traditions of anarchism and feminism, discussion of their union in the past and the barriers to this union may help to inform both genres as I see them as both phenomenas of urgent relevance.

Definitions of both anarchism and feminism are totally anathma as “freedom is not something to be decreed and protected by laws or states. It is something you shape for yourself and share however both have insisted “on spontenaiety, on theoretical flexibility, on simplicity of living, on love and anger as complementary and necessary compoents of society as well as individual action.” Anarchist feminist see the state as an insitution of patriarchy, and seek to find a way out of the alienation of the contemporary world and the impersonal narture of the state and its rituals of economic, physical and psychological violence.

The word anarchist comes from archon meaning a ruler and the addition of the prefix “an” meaning “without” creates the terms for concieving not of chaos not disorganisation, but of a situtaion in which there is emancipation from authority. Ironically what consititutes anarchism is not goal orientated post revolutionary bliss but is a set or organisational principles which may redress the current obstacles to freedom. As Carlo Pisacane, an Italian anarchist wrote “The propaganda of the idea is a chimera. Ideas result from deeds, not the later from the former, and the people will not be free when they are educated, but educated when they are free.”

Most of the focus of anarchist discussion has been “around the governmental source of most of societies troubles and the viable alternative forms of voluntary organisation possible”, but has paid little attention to the manifestations of the state in our intimate relationships nor with the invidivual psychological thought processes which affect our every relationship while living under the tyranny of a power-over ideology. The above quote came from George Woodcocks anthology called The Anarchist Reader who should be forever embarrased for citing only one woman briefly (Emma Goldman in the role of critic of the Russian Revolution). The quote continues “and by further definition, the anarchist is the man who sets out to create a society without government.”

Exactly.

How is it that revolutionary libertarian fervour can exist so harmoniously with machismo? It is far too easy in this instance to say that “It is hard to locate our tormentor. It’s so pervasive, so familiar, We have known it all our lives. It is our culture.” because although it is true the essences of liberty so illustrously espoused by these people have not extended their definition of freedom to ther sisters. Why not?? It is often a problem of language used by idealists in their use of the term man as generic, but what is also clear in so much of the rhetoric is that the envisioned ‘proletariat’ is the male worker, the revolutionary is a person entering into the struggle that is the seeking of a “legitimating” expression of ‘masculinity’ in the political forum staked out by the dominant male paradigm. Feminists are suspicious of logic and its rituals and the auidence addressed by a ritual language, with reason. Consider the folloving examples and if you are not a woman try to imagine the conflict created by such wonderful ideas that deliberately and needlessly exclude you from relevance or existance.

“Our animal needs, it is well known, consist in food, clothing and shelter. If justice means anything, nothing can be more unjust than that any man lack them. But justice doesn’t stop there.”

“the objection which anarchists have always sustained to fixed and authoritarian forms of organisation does not mean that they deny organisation as such. The anarchist is not an individualist in the extreme sense of the word. He believes passionately in individual freedom, but he also recognises that such freedom can only be safeguarded by a willingness to co-operate by the reality of community”

“An integral part of the collective existance, man feels his dignity at the same time in himself and in others, and thus carries in his heart the principle of morality superiour to himslef. This principle does not come to him from outside, it is secreted within him, it is immanent. It consititues his essence, the essence of society itself. It is the form of the human spirit, a form which takes shape and grows towards perfection only by the relationship that everyday gives birth to social life. Justice in other works, exists in us like love, like notions of beauty of utility of truth, like all our powers and faculties.”

“Chomsky argues that the basis of Humbolt’s social and political thought is his vision “of the end of man”…the highest and most harmonious develpment of his powers to a complete and consistent whole. Freedom is the first and indispensable conditions which the posasibility of such a development presupposes.”

And as if bearing witness to the sucesses of the socialisaion process, women too use this language as Voltairine de Cleyre said “And when modern revolution has thus been carried to the heart of the whole world if it ever shall be, as I hope it will – then may we hope to see a ressurection of that proud spirit of our fathers which put the simple dignity of Man above the gauds of wealth and class and held that to be an American was greater than to be a king. In that day there shall be neither kings nor Americans – only men, over the whole earth MEN.”

Well save me from tommorrow! Sometimes you have to edit your reading with so many (sic) (sic) (sick’s) it renders the text unreadable. And so to what extent than has revolutionary ideology created and spoken to women when the language, the focus and the freedom offered is so often clearly for men? The fact is that women have only so very recently acquired access to education and also do not often have the opportunity for political involvement, consider both the physical and psychological barriers. There have always been a womans voice in political forums and feminism builds upon these tradition, theories and courage to create a body of thought that specifically addresses womens empowerment.

As Robin Morgan points out in her book The Demon Lover, the left have been dominated asnd led by a male system of violence which has created with reactionary punctuality its “opposite” (duplicate) of action theory and language. She argues that in the search for “legitimacy” that male revolutionaries adopt the forums and language of violence and domination that continue to oppress women but that because these fourms are seeminsly the sole route for political transgression; that women are enticed and engaged in the struggle that while purporting to be revolutionary it is revolutionary on male terms and will use and betray her. So often feminist have been abused by and asked by male revolutionaries to make ther claim and focus subsurvient to “the wider struggle”. From the women Abolitionists jeered at when they gave a feminist understaning of the problems of male drunkeness and its devestating effects on women, to the suffragists accused of diverting attention from the war effort, to Zetkin, Luxumbourg and Goldman all suffering the eye roll and brutality of both the state that is and the state that would be. We see Alexandra Kollontai the only women involved in the Russian cabinet after the 1917 Revolution being exiled to Norway after all her references to the necessity of a feminist component to revolution were edited and diluted. We are asked to stop pursuing our cause and start defending it but to argue for the validity of our cause that would imply we wanted “in”. Even recently a once respected friend said that “The womens meeting is on now, the real meeting will state in half and hour.” When questioned he added “the full meeting”. The fullness of the lack filling penile participation I supposed, lubricated and made ready, as always in isolation. Ah but how can one quibble about the sloppiness of language when it serves our purposes so well. Thankyou Mirabeau for the following “Every party has its criminals and fools because every party has its men.”

Entering into political circles with men is an exercise in the risk of compromising and being obedient to this attitude or in confronting it. Ridicule is the worst, tokenism is little better and so gloriously rare and acute is our joy when the issues are taken seriously that we could be mistaken for groaning clapping seals unless we are already cringingly braced in anticipation of the backlash of men genuinely perplexed but inarticulate except in the socialised male response; defensiveness. But there must be some way in which to address the political nature of our polarisiaion as sexes in political forums which involve men. There must be some way to point to the coercive power structures that display a hidden elite, invariable of men but also of women. I believe like Peggy Krogger that feminism could be the connection that links anarchism to the future, both add to eachothers struggle not to seize but to abolish power, but both go further than the socialists and assert that people are not free becuse they are surviving, or even economically comfortable. They are only free when they have power over their own lives. Anaerchist feminist say that the goal is not to fabricate the new and artificial social forms but to find ways or articulating people so that out of their groupings, the insitutions appropriate to a free society might evolve.”

Socialist organisations are popular with a lot of people who are flocking to these groups because it is felt that one must be involved with a revolutionary group,. Indeed. But their gender blind hierarchical bludgenoning from the poduim organisations have a typical style of interpreting feminist concerns and concrete grievances as irrelevant to or symptomatic of the larger struggle. “They appeal to the women to suspend their cause temporarily which inevitable leads to a dismissal of women’s issues as tangential, reducing them to subsidiary categories.”

Anarcha-feminist have said that often the “definitive body of theory which is so often the comforting cushion for male reclining, such theoretical over articulation gives one the illusion of responding to a critical situaion, without ever really coming to grips with ones perception of it. With capitalism and patriarchy so safely reduced to an explination, we distance ourselves from the problem and the necessity to immediately interact with it or respond to other people.” So often revolutionaries deal with concepts and not people.

But while as anarcha-feminists we object to much of the politics of socialist (as a friend of mine says “After your revolution we’ll still be us, but you’ll be them, ) we also argue that liberation needs to happen in small afinity groups so that people are not blugeoned into opinions and can build up the personal relationshiop of trust that facilitates the grieving, the sharing and the exorcisms of the psyhological though processes and experiences that brought them to their politics.. This is often a sanity compromising process or do we actually become sane through that difficult time when we realise that the personal is political.

“Those of us who have learnt to survive by dominating others, as well as those of us who have learned to survive by accepting domination need to socialise ourselves into being strong without playing dominance submission games, into controlling what happens to us without controlling others.” “To this end anarchism must start with a solid feminist consiousness and practise it or it is doomed to just as much internal contradiction and failure as anarchists traditionally foresaw for hierarchical Marxism.”

Requiem For The Global Dream


 

What is happening in the world when it seems as if everywhere you look the same  worldwide current of globalization is becoming toxic for the majority of the people?

When people say that we are all human, which is obvious, they often forget that we are not born equal.

No, we aren’t. Or would you say that you are like that corrupt politician or like a serial killer? Are we like the 1%? I doubt it.

Then why the brutal emphasis in confusing equal rights and obligations with equal capacities, needs, aspirations and attitudes?

These are currents that  apparently strive to integrate and homogenize but that really aspire to create a false global culture which is convenient to the rich and powerful. As I’ve said in other posts, if you shame the elders and uproot the young, you disintegrate a culture, leaving it at the mercy of the strongest cultural wind: the one that the elite want, the one that keeps us all in a position of subservience.

Throughout history, democracy has not been what most people understand as ‘democratic’, that is, a government for the people, by the people. Or at very least there have been  near constant waves of rebellion from the lower classes followed by backlash  from the upper classes to try to reestablish  a system which favours them and their interests. According to James Madison, “The use of the Senate is to consist in proceeding with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” (Wikipedia, ‘ History of the American Senate’)

In his seminal work, ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (1776), Adam Smith points out that “All for ourselves and nothing for other people seems, in every age of the world,  to have  been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind” .

There has been an enormous, concentrated, coordinated business offensive beginning in the ’70s to try to beat back the egalitarian efforts of previous decades that went on all over the Western world.

The ruling elites concluded that the people were becoming too educated, so the schools must be brought under control.  Academic autonomy for schools and academic freedom for educators have come under increasing attack. The institutions of education and socialisation have become the tools for indoctrination. As the ’70s give way to the ’80s, Western culture largely shifts from a more egalitarian worldview to a more individualistic, or depoliticised and/or apathetic, consumerist worldview. This way of shaping ideology has only got worse since then and up until the financial crisis of 2008.

 

Another circumstance is that since the 1970s, there’s been a concerted effort on the part of the masters of mankind, the owners of society, to shift the economy in two crucial respects.

The financialisation of the economy means that moving money around in complicated ways produces more benefits for corporations than actually manufacturing goods or providing services. In previous decades, between the 40s  and 70s, the directors of major companies were experts in their fields: engineers or economists. Now they are financial directors, experts in financial trickery.

Offshoring, producing in other countries which have less regulations as to welfare or salaries is the global race to the bottom of the labour barrel. It pits workers to compete against one another to lower wages.  Meanwhile, highly paid professionals are protectedYet, the classics,  such as Adam Smith have long argued that free circulation of labour is the foundation of any free trade system. Workers aren’t free to move,  but capital is.

Through the manoeuvres of these financial CEOs , corporations have steered the economy in such a way that  through regressive tax policies, such as shifting taxes to wages and consumption and away from dividends and capital gains, the burden of sustaining basic services through taxation has been shifted from those that earn more and have more dividends to ordinary people who have seen their income tax and general taxes increase, while declining steadily for dividend holders. Here we encounter a new term, the Precariat, that is the precarious proletariat.

The glue that held societies together was quite often solidarity.  It fostered empathy and harmony. From the point of view of the masters, you’re only supposed to care about yourself, not about other people, so solidarity is a dangerous trait. The steady chipping away of community ties through pitting different groups of people against each other leads to a lack of empathy and willingness to contribute to the community unless you are benefitted from it directly has been a constant.  Attacks on organized labor mean that workers will not have a chance to join together and fight for their rights. They will effectively be isolated in their struggle for better working conditions. The goal of directing people to superficial consumption as a means of keeping people in their place was explicit and has been reached. In a market economy, informative advertisements would result in rational decisions. But actual advertisements provide no information and promote irrational choices. This means not just ads for automobiles and soap, but also election campaigns for candidates. Obviously, obsessive consumers are not born, they’re molded by advertising.

The 1970s saw enormous growth in lobbying. It is now routine for the interests being regulated to control the regulators, which makes things much easier on the regulated. The creation of corporate personhood, the equation of money with speech, and the lifting of all limits for corporations makes it possible to keep the vicious circle of wealth buying power and power legislating in favour of wealth. If you can buy your candidate you can change the course of elections. Ultimately, the so-called nanny state favours not the poor or needy but the rich.

Globalisation is, in sum, a manoeuvre  by and  for the further enrichment of the wealthy.

If the local and regional cultures of people die out, so will the solidarity among them and we will be faced  with a grim future. This only benefits the mega-rich, who know full well what culture and class they belong to. They are the Masters of the world. They do not need to be aware of anyone’s needs but their own. It is inconvenient for them that we have anything to be proud of, anything to bind us together except just being human.

For the 1%, the World is their oyster.

A global society based on the vile maxim that Adam Smith pointed out in ‘Wealth of the Nations’, ‘All for me, nothing for the rest.’ is bound to be catastrophic.

And for the rest of us – bread and circuses.

 

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/harmony/">Harmony</a>

 

 

You Are A Woman Now! The Green Dog View on Being Female-Part 2


tree-goddesswolf-lady

I Am A Woman Now.

Of course, I belong to a different generation. We are working women. Career women. We haven’t been relieved of our duties as wives, mothers and daughters but we gotta be ‘one of the guys’ ! We shouldn’t complain about the uneven playing field, just play the game and work twice as hard. Not too sensitive or demanding with men. Ruthless with ourselves and other females. Criticise men but secretly wish you were one of them. Yes, I’m getting cynical here. My apologies.

We were freer than previous generations of women. We aspired to Everything. Reality somehow fell a bit short.

In my case, as the only daughter of ‘old’ parents (in the late 60s, being a new mother at 41 was considered old), I was responsible for the family happiness. My father had wanted a boy. He wasn’t disappointed after I arrived, however. In any case I was expected to fulfill the expectations of both the oldest son and the only daughter.

The myth of only children being spoilt was, in my case, as far from the truth as the Earth is from the Sun. I was told to be obedient, strong, independent (from everyone but my parents, of course) and questioned for my reasons to do or not do anything and everything, whether it was selecting a pair of socks or choosing a husband. My reasons were never quite good enough.  Because I’m a Woman Now.

I always remember two occasions in which my parents made me feel insecure and guilty. One was when I was 16 and had bad grades in a couple of subjects at school. My dad sat me down and told me off for not trying hard enough, and if that weren’t enough he said that if I slept around and got knocked up, he’d throw me out of the house. Who…ME? The idea made me feel guilty and stupid for feeling guilty. I was not a popular girl. There was a slim chance, virtually inexistent, that I would be so foolish as to ‘sleep around’, or find anyone willing to risk sleeping with ‘The American’.

On another occasion, at the age of 21, I won a week’s trip, with all expenses paid, to Paris given by the Alliance Française  for being an excellent student of French language and culture. I went home delighted with the news. My dad listened quietly and when I’d finished, hopeful that he’d be ok with it, he calmly stated that if I was old enough to decide to go, I was also old enough to find another place to live when I got back. I knew that it was not an empty threat. They’d eventually let me move back, but I’d have to plead and find somewhere to stay for a few days.

Why this attitude? Because I’m a girl, therefore at risk for any pervert or sweet talker to rape me. I am not capable of defending myself because, you know…men are stronger. And I do  not know the difference between genuine interest in me or just a guy wanting to get laid. Because I am not supposed to be that smart. Because I am a girl. Furthermore, why would anyone have any legitimate interest in me? Who would love me if not those who must? Everyone else has a guarded interest in me. Because I’m A Woman Now.

I could have become extremely insecure. Instead, I became extremely responsible and extremely prone to feeling guilty about almost everything that happened in my life, even when logic told me I had nothing to do with it. Why? Because I’m A Woman Now.

Many men want their wife or girlfriend to be not only a partner but  a lover, mother. organiser, coddler, life saver. They, the poor guys, do what they can while their multi-tasking, maxi -stressed woman cannot opt to do much more than care for their ‘baby’, lest they be tagged as a bad, selfish , ungrateful person. It is a tendency that bewilders me. It is also something that isn’t talked about. Why? Because Real Women don’t complain.

A woman is not the soul of the family, because souls are not ‘human’ or fallible and we need support, even if it’s just a hug. Or having someone do a chore so you won’t have to without having to demand it when you’re so tired that you give in and complain and nag. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m better at chores or that I’ll never tire of doing them.

Now that I Am A Woman, I understand  the famous Simone de Beauvoir quote that says that you are not born a woman, but that you become one. This is not arbitrarily decided by biology, but acquired through daily struggles and through the effort of becoming who you’re meant to become.

Now that I’m a Woman, I value those people who come into my life to make it better and make me feel lighter, the weight of the world no longer on my shoulders.

Now that I’m A Woman, I vow to help as many women as possible realize that they are not alone, they are not selfish for wanting care and attention, that they are not responsible for all that happens in their world.

Now that I’m A Woman, I will hold no one responsible for my shortcomings.

Now that I’m A Woman, I will embrace my triumphs and celebrate myself.

Now that I’m A Woman,  I will fear less, love deeper, dare boldly.

Why?

Because I Am A Woman Now.

 

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/uneven/">Uneven</a>

You Are A Woman Now! A Green Dog View On Being Female-Part 1


angel-and-demon-1

 

March 19th., 1979. Passaic, New Jersey. USA

I’d been feeling weird for several days, with no real idea of what was going on.  That morning, Saint Joseph’s Day, Father’s Day for Spaniards, I knew that it was because I had left behind my childhood. I Was a Woman Now.

My body had begun changing a few months after my tenth birthday. Strange hair had started growing in strange places like my armpits and my legs and between my legs. Of course, I knew about the changes I would eventually experiment and why. It was called ‘becoming a woman’ and all I could think is that it would really be scary. I envisioned a process similar to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly overnight

I already had acne, which did little to improve my self esteem. I wasn’t the prettiest or the brightest in my class. I was more a tomboy than a little princess. Riding my bike was far more interesting than playing with dolls because I could get out of the house and explore. I had never had much in common with  most other girls so I wondered (and secretly hoped ) if when I finally ‘became a woman’ , I’d also be allowed  into the Secret Female Club that taught you how to be a Real Woman, whatever that was supposed to be.

I’d heard about it very often.

A Real Woman was immaculately clean. You could not be a Real Woman and be untidy. This included your house, your children (because a Real Woman is a mother, always a mother and nothing but a mother from the second she gives birth, which she must think of from her twenties onwards), your husband (and/or your significant others, because you need a significant other), and of course yourself. Always clean, shaved legs and armpits (not shaving equals being slovenly) and smelling of sugar and spice and everything nice. I wondered how such a feat could be achieved by the likes of me. It seemed inconceivable at the time.

A Real Woman must complain about men but comply with all they wish. She must not form any deeper relationship with a woman than she has with the men in her life, for they are the measure of herself that matters. She should criticise them but always making excuses for their shortcomings and the times they let her down. However she should expect more from herself and other women, and feel guilty and responsible for other people’s behaviour towards her.

A Real Woman  should be better than a man but believe herself to be worse. She should not accept compliments but brush them off. She should not think highly of herself but ‘make men respect her’, meaning being ‘hard to get’ for men and denying  them access to her body.
In all, I found it hard to understand and quite illogical.

A couple of years before I ‘became a woman’, I had an incident with a classmate on the school playground. I was standing, hands on waist, looking towards my friends with whom I was playing tag when one of the boys from my class came running past me and flipped my skirt up, revealing my leotard clad legs up their entire length. Then, to my surprise, he just stopped by me and grinned dumbly, as if pleased with his feat. I was angry and shocked but still I reacted lashing out my hand towards his face. I am truly clumsy, so I was surprised to feel my hand collide with his nose. I had no sooner lowered my hand when he stopped smiling and his nose started bleeding. He went running over to where the teachers were and complained to them that I’d hit him. I caught up with him and explained the case, that I had slapped him because he had lifted my skirt in front of the whole school for no reason. He was taken to the nurse. I was taken to my classroom and lectured about how wrong I had been striking my classmate. I said that I wasn’t happy about it but that I had only done it because he had lifted my skirt and then gloated in front of me.

I was told I must apologise, to which I agreed. I thought I had explained my case and that we would both apologise. When he returned to the classroom, I was made to apologise in front of all the class. He magnanimously accepted and sat down.

I looked at him in disbelief and then I looked at the teacher. I asked  her why he hadn’t apologised to me. She looked at me and shook her head. Apparently, I hadn’t suffered any damage while he had had a bloodied nose. I answered, a little too loudly it seems, that he had ridiculed me and lifted my skirt up for no reason. She took me aside by the arm, told me to pipe down and explained that I had not been physically hurt and that I should be flattered because the boy had done it because he liked me. I was sure I had heard wrong.

So  I learned a lesson: if a boy liked me he would tease me, make fun of me and even ridicule me. Was that what I could expect of men? I thought I must have misunderstood.

The following school year, I pushed a boy I liked and was consequently told that it was very unkind of me to push him. When I replied that I liked him and we were pushing each other, just playing, I got a strange look from the teacher along with some useful advice: girls that are too loud and too rough will never be liked by boys. This was said in a tone that implied that being liked and valued by boys was a very desirable thing.

Things were uneven for me, as for other girls, from the school playground up.

But back to The Day I Became A Woman… In a way, it was a relief to know, once and for all, that the uneasiness and physical tiredness and the minor aches and pains (luckily for me) were only a sign of ‘the waxing and waning of hormones’. That was the definition I found in a biology book in the school library. My mother had explained it to me around the age of nine, along with the admonition that sex was out of bounds until I was married. I remember asking her if boys had to wait til they got married to have sex. She looked at me shaking her head and said that if a man reached a certain age without having ‘sown his wild oats’ he would be useless, as he was more probably than not, gay. So I learned the lesson: boys could do what they wanted.

They could have sex with the slutty girls or -gasp- with other boys,  but the good girls had to keep away from them even if we loved them. Especially if we loved them. A man would lose interest and respect for you if you slept with him before having a ring on your finger. So I asked her what was so good about being a good girl. She said that it was the best thing because a good girl didn’t need a man, only as a father for her children. So women are better than men? No, of course not. We need men.

Gosh, this was a mess. I needed men but I couldn’t/shouldn’t ‘give in’ because they wouldn’t respect me. This would all change when I got one to put a ring on my finger.
I wasn’t too interested in boys at the age of eleven, which made me think that I could, at least, learn about other aspects of being a Real Woman, like makeup and high heels to camouflage my acne and elevate my 5 foot frame a little higher. When I asked my mother about using lipstick and buying a pair of high heeled sandals, the look of disbelief and disgust I got back was enough to make me understand that this was, again, something out of bounds.

And then it got really weird. She told me that I was just a girl, that I’d have to wait til I grew up. My jaw dropped. Wasn’t I A Woman Now? Wasn’t bleeding five days a month tribute enough to pay for wearing a dash of lipstick or a pair of heels? I had to be wary of men, but men didn’t look at girls, did they? What was all the fuss about, then? I couldn’t play like I always had but I got nothing in exchange for my new status, for my lost days of exploring and hanging out with whoever I wanted?

In the end, my dad bought me a pair of black leather pumps like Olivia Newton John wore in ‘Grease’. I tried to ride my bike with them. I fell off a few times, so I ended up giving them to a friend of mine who was three years older than me and who everybody considered old enough to do the heels justice.

Some things were out of my reach in spite of Being A Woman Now.

There were things that I could do now that I Was A Woman, though.

I could speak more softly.

I could mind my manners and sit like a lady.

I could wear a bra to keep my breasts covered, although I barely had any,  and I wore oversized clothes most of the time.

I could learn to be less impertinent, ask less questions, learn to do more housework…

Wait, what? MORE housework? I could cook, I knew how to make beds, sweep, dust, mop, use a washing machine, wash dishes… which I did on a regular basis. But now I had to learn how to organise a house. This, in case you don’t know, means being able to do all of the above tasks with a smile and making it seem easy. So easy it almost seems like magic. Clothes get washed, dried, ironed and folded magically. Dishes get washed with a snap of the fingers. Chores get done and people get fed without a blink, while you remain perfectly dressed and coiffed. This is the ultimate sign and aspiration of A Real Woman: making everything function flawlessly without letting on that you’re dead tired and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. If you must, cry at night when you’re alone, but don’t let your husband hear you. You are the strong one. Men must revere you for your spotless house and gourmet meals, but no mushiness.

Because I Am A Woman Now.

End of Part One

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/uneven/">Uneven</a>

 

The Price of Perfection


perfection

I realise that I can only speak from my experience, although I know for a fact that most Spanish women of my generation would probably agree. There are many subtle ways in which I still detect harsher judgment being passed on women than on men. We are still, in some ways, at a liminal stage.
I don’t feel free to do certain things that I see men do daily without any raised eyebrows, such as having a noon whiskey alone at a bar. If it happens once, it may be ignored. If it happens again, my prospective pupils will get the image of an untrustworthy teacher. Never mind that I am reliable and never show up late or drunk to a class.
I was taught -brainwashed, actually- that I am responsible for any harm that befalls me if I am out after a certain hour… unless I am accompanied by a man. I have learned that there’s no quicker way to stop a man from showering you with unwanted attention than to say loudly that your husband (not boyfriend) will be around in a moment. I have learned that at my age I can have a husband but a ‘boyfriend’ means I am loose, cheap and probably not a good mother. It causes raised eyebrows.
I recently read an article about a woman -Spanish- who was conceived by her mother to be perfect. Her name was Hildegart Rodríguez, the educator of the Spanish proletariat at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her mother Aurora conceived her because she hated all the women she knew and wanted to prove that she could mold her daughter into the most perfect creature. Hildegart had an extensive education, she was precocious and bright and could read by the age of three. At the age of fifteen, she wrote articles for socialist publications. She wrote erudite treaties on the liberation of women, on contraception, motherhood and other social issues. However, her mother kept her under direct surveillance constantly, even sleeping together. She was, obviously, sexually repressed by her obsessive mother, who thought sex was disgusting. She theorized about what she was never allowed to experience.
Long story short, when she began to show a need for more freedom than her mother was willing to give her, she was killed by her. Apparently, the most perfect woman in Spain deserved death for daring to be herself and defy authority. She could not be tolerated in her natural state and making her own decisions.

Maybe it’s Spain. I don’t know. Maybe I am paranoid, which is possible. The story of Hildegart, ‘The Red Virgin’ as she was called by Havelock Ellis, reinforces the lesson I learned at age 9: you are not welcome to be you. You’re too loud (for a girl), too opinionated (for a girl) and you should behave like a lady, so buckle up and bear it. Anything you do is your entire responsibility. Anything that happens to you is your due for being an upstart.
Maybe it’s because I am a Green Dog and therefore inherently strange. I have little in common with my contemporaries. Growing up in different places makes you sort of a loner and if you’re an introvert it just gets worse.
You may ask, and rightly so, what makes a Green Dog actually so strange.
There is no short way to answer.
Brevity can be deceitfully simple. It can seem to contain all the necessary, vital facts, but often it just rushes to stereotypical conclusions that do little to clarify the meaning or the sense of actions or words.
So I kindly suggest you take a seat, and above all, I thank you for bearing with the ramblings of this Green Dog who is always questioning reasons, motives, whys and wherefores.
Green Dogs are strange because we don’t comply with many social norms, either because we disagree with them or because we simply don’t see the point.
Green Dogs are strange because we simply can’t understand how other people’s brains function, especially if they work at a slower speed than ours. We get ourselves going in circles, once we start. Jumping from one task to the next, spinning like tops!
Green Dogs cause some people to break out in hives. Always inquisitive, always wondering out loud whether it is us that are weird or it is this world gone unhinged.

Liminal

Bullying, From ‘Autism in Our Nest’


This is an excellent article from the blog ‘Autism in Our Nest’. It addresses the issue of bullying , which is on the rise everywhere and is especially negative for autistic spectrum children, who are bullied up to five times more than others.

Standing Up to Bullies

‘Double Standards Cannot be Changed By Trying’


strong-woman

Disclaimer: I do not hate men nor make them responsible for all the evils of the world. I have two wonderful sons and a marvelous man in my life. This is about society in Spain.

We are no less feminine because we own our destinies.
What man likes a woman who can’t get along without him?
We all want love but nobody wants to be anyone’s servant. Female ‘weakness’ is a myth. There have been women who have taken advantage of this, although I don’t approve of it. As the saying goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. If you want a dependant woman, you pay the price.
My maternal grandmother became a widow in 1933. She had seven children, ranging in age from twelve to three months. She was thirty five. She needed strength and courage to raise them, being illiterate. She grew a pair. She had to if she wanted to get by. Nobody took in a widow with seven kids, not then in pre-war, Civil War and post war Spain; and not now.
But a poor widower, or more recently, a divorced man, is a poor soul who needs to be sorted out with a woman by his side because the poor guy might feel lonely or bad.
Enter the double standard: A woman in the same circumstances is morally dubious, silly, crazy…
Because a woman has to be weak when she should follow and strong when nobody wants to lead.
Because a woman has to be smart so she can fend for herself but not too intelligent to challenge anyone’s intelligence.
Because a woman must be pretty so that men look at her, so she can then reject them (because if she doesn’t she’s a slut) after which they can call her frigid, stuck up and say she was asking for it. Whatever it takes to deny the fact that she is indeed her own person and needn’t cater to anyone else’s desires.
Because a woman must be pure until she has a formal relationship and then she must be able to execute the Kamasutra.
Because a woman has to bear children and then forget about everything else.
Motherhood is everything, all there is. Once you’re a mother, you are nothing more. Don’t look for a relationship! If there’s a chance of one, run! A mother cannot have a personal life. People are surprised at low birthrates. You can’t even have a personal life when your kids are grown. Just for the record, how many men are only considered as fathers? Once a father, only a father? I think not.
I lost a friend today for posting this. A woman. She said it was demeaning to widows. I myself am divorced. It seems that by some absurd stupidity of mine, I managed to insult myself and insult women. She ended up saying that it was presumptuous of me to think I could change any thing by saying it. It had always been that way and would always be that way.
The fire of fear sends smoke into people’s eyes to blind them from truths too hard to accept.
I am done trying to explain it.
End of rant.

Smoke