A Woman’s Place
Written By Jasmine
I have not ever felt the need to call myself a “woman’s libber”. Having coming into my own during the 70′s, there was plenty to learn about oppression and liberation from different media. We were modern enough to experience the possibilities of what a woman could accomplish, should one be motivated enough to want to jump into the fast lane, and move ahead in life. However, if one was enlightened enough, to feel the pressure of the desire to better herself, but not fortunate enough to have the financial backing to attend college, feeling the opportunity of marriage was the only major viable alternative was prevalent.
My junior year of high school found me with a silent desire to become a librarian. I remember at 8 years of age, 2nd grade, discovering the wonders the library held and I became passionate about something for the first time in my life. Visiting it was not enough so when we were allowed to volunteer to aid the librarian in 5th grade I jumped at the chance, all the way thru my graduation. I would have done it for nothing but it was a bonus when I actually racked up a few credits for my efforts. In my senior year I was an employee of my small community library where I held such responsibility as being the sole
person running it on some Saturdays. Thrilling in my book! It was too short lived because my salary was paid thru backdoor funding and when community monies and how it was spent was revamped, my position was terminated. However, I was shy, lacking personal confidence and I did not recognize it as a “calling” to be addressed and fulfilled. I knew my family did not have the money to send me to college nor did I have any comprehension as to how someone could work their way thru. At that time, grants and loans were not as prevalent as they would become later.
What I did in that direction was ask the lead librarian in my high school if I could become a librarian by attending vocational school, thinking that might possibly be my only option. With no idea as to what was going on in my mind, she said I could work in one by doing so but the real way was to attend college for the required credentials to become a librarian. In my mind my dream was dashed by my interpretation of her answer and I never spoke of it again until years later to my Grandmother. At that time, she smiled a knowing sad smile and told me had she known this, there would have been ways via the family connections (unknown to me at the time) as well as ways and means only adults are sometimes privy to, that would have allowed me to attain my dream.
Growing up in a small community that allowed me to be sheltered from the outside world, but at the same time aware of that world, I truly feel it was the end of an era where it was either one or the other. The in-between was a life of serving in a “job” to simply, however respectfully, earn a paycheck, in a position that would certainly find one wondering by middle age where did the time go and what the heck am I doing here? Or become a “homemaker”. At 17 years, I met a man 4 years older than me and well on his way paving his future. It was a true relationship on both sides, but sub-consciously I knew marriage was the only option for “someone like me”. I ended up working while he attended formal education after his service in the Army. There was no question in my mind as to the soundness of this mutual decision. Time passed quickly as it does and 4 years later I was pregnant and we had started our family. If someone told me I was settling for less, I would have called them a liar. There are choices presented on our individual paths and I believe there is no wrong choice; only different and our lessons earned and learned come in the form of what direction we chose to go and the varying degrees supplied.
Personally, based on what I learned of “woman’s lib”, they ruined it for those of us that actually understood the differences between woman and men. Some women are made up of the physical stuff to step out in certain working worlds to compete with men, sometimes accomplishing it but falling short because of body makeup. Does this make them “equal”? The bra burning path pavers of the 60′s did not take in to consideration that there are some things real women enjoy, that what might be lost by taking such a bold move as proclaiming the total equality of the sexes. I, for one, have always enjoyed the feeling of having a man step into my path and open a door for me. Knowing full and well I could open the same door myself with no loss felt at all. What if it all boils down to respect and acknowledging the differences between the sexes? Respect for what I have to offer you and what I have to offer back? What self respecting male would offer to open a door for a woman that blasts bold blinking neon that no old fashioned chivalry is required because I am most capable of doing it myself!
In my most humble opinion, the battle between the sexes took a nasty turn and lies not in the differences, but in the distortion of what the power of being a women truly means. I so believe in the power contained in womanhood. We are natural healers, nurturers of life, bearer of children. Keeping this in mind, as independent thinkers, we individually choose the path we want to follow. In understanding the base instincts allotted to each woman and the choice to choose where we want our talents to go. Whether or not to compete with the male on their level or accepting our capabilities given as women is a choice. In the most base of thinking, I feel this movement highlighted an all or nothing sense. Perhaps, along the way of the push for equality in a “modern age”, both sexes got confused.
The responsibility lies in using this power properly, with respect to the powers that it’s extended, and not strictly for the benefit of attaining advantage at the expense of others. The flip side of this power is that which is suppressed by domination. Where this type of domination prevails is to know suppression of female powers. It breeds contempt, insecurity and a feeling of minimization as a human being. It confuses the sense of natural instincts. Where male domination is allowed to prevail at the expense of allowing him to feel control is to know another soul experiencing pain and suppression. Self worth is at stake. Growth stops and survival instincts take front row. For the sake of love and acceptance, a woman will sacrifice large chunks of herself in order to sustain the relationship.
If children are involved, this kind of control will push the woman to extend her sacrificial service with respect to them, to remain, in the name of the family. If violence is involved (verbal or physical, both damaging) , she will place herself in-between her children, taking the brunt of what is dished out, and accomplishing this only if she is crafty and clever enough to divert the barrage of rage outside of the line of fire that might include them. She will fool herself into thinking that she is absorbing all the pain, and in doing so, allowing the children to be pain free. In reality, she is only fooling herself in this belief. Children learn not only from what they hear but from what they see and feel, as well. There are no short cuts in martyrdom, someone who believes they sacrifice themselves for the sake of others! There is no protection from domination, violence, suppression, based on fear of reprisal. There is no amount of love or desire that will protect young ones from being affected.
If, in this generation, we can say we possess the most modern tools of evolvement available to us to date, there is no place for dominance between the sexes, why is there so much going on in the world? Is the blame cast back to the caveman where cartoons have the males dragging the woman by the hair? Is it because of the survival of the fittest has the male battling the elements with the female standing steadfast in the background tending the child and stirring the soup for dinner? Or in modern times, that he is left to decipher the “evolved liberated” woman and the female that will either succumb to their will
and be accepted or be so “liberated” that they are beyond conditioning to their base “male whims”.
Personally, I really like men. There are many good ones out there that truly respect women and treat them as so. These men deserve a woman who is as intent on equality in a relationship and committed to the work involved to establish it as such. My concern lies with the women who feel their destiny has them in the opposite, where he rules over her well being and she knows no other life than his “reality”.
There are many forms of courage, however, the most courageous are the ones that recognize the futility of their lives, no matter how much they try to camouflage their situations, and step out with bravery to change them. The first step is to recognize the need for change.
The second is to justify the making of the change in relationships to altering the lives of all those included. She asks herself, “How can I be so selfish as to make the choice to change the lives of the people I love in the name of bettering our lives, as I have deemed to be best?” The formulated need to ask is reason enough to fully be aware of a serious problem.
The third is to recognize the gut instincts when this decision might be the best for all and the common sense peace of mind to bring forth any alliances in relationships in their lives who might help in bringing about such a change in life that might be required, be it a good ear for support or actually aiding in bringing about the changes for this to come about.
The gift of the Goddess to women lies in the ability to draw on strength and courage, to survive the serious challenge of the desire to change one’s life for the opportunity to better the lives involved and in doing so, discover our full potential.