[pullquote_right]To me, success means effectiveness in the world, that I am able to carry my ideas and values into the world… that I am able to change it in positive ways. – Maxine Hong Kingston[/pullquote_right]
I must admit that some things in life that are simple to others, seem to be deep mysteries to me. I have the pleasure of speaking to persons with varied personalities quite often and teaching a number of classes on a variety of subjects
These experiences allow me to see the expressions on the faces of people when I say something that they agree with, and the body language that follows perceived negative statements.
They are certain subjects that evoke anger and others that will set the stage for peaceful acceptance. The emotive subjects that can be broached are children, race and religion; however, if one wants to see the true colours of an audience, let your subject be gender affairs. This subject will set the stage for more varied opinions than race, religion, politics and children’s affairs combined; because in truth and in fact, they are all combined in this delicate shell.
I have always wondered why, and the answer is always very simple, the suppressed anger that women bring to the table, because of generations of having to act on the perimeter of the decision-making process, whether it is politics, finance or – strange as it may seem – their own bodies, does not allow them the wish to compromise on any issue that may revert them to the past or take away ground that they have fought so valiantly for. As a result of this, and at great sacrifice, some have paid the price by being stereotyped, while others have lost the very family structure they sought to develop.
In every community where women exist – and that is everywhere – they have been involved in struggle. I have watched the subtle and now open transformation of women formerly locked into cultural jails, released because they were willing to fight, not so that they could be promiscuous or rebellious, but to be free to make decisions. To love, procreate and praise in a manner in which they feel comfortable and not dictated to them by the invisible chains of at times archaic cultural definitions of what religion, or other philosophies determine.
However, there has been a negative side to the victories won and even lost. The fact that women were once considered the property of the men they loved led to some vicious family situations; unfortunately, women had little recourse in a world dominated by men. This state of affairs no longer exists; women can now seek and get justice at every level of the system, whether in the job, domestic or judicial arena.
The negative side is the fact that men are now feeling marginalized. Why women now demand equal recognition has been lost in the very nature of the demand, the feeling is that women are seeking to dominate. I must admit that I have met few women who want to dominate their men; what they do seek is the need to be seen as a voice and not a silent, fragile ornament. New-found freedoms have brought a confidence in themselves that in my case pleases and not frightens. Women seeking to start their ideas are aiming to bring the balance so badly needed in a world where every segment of society seemed to believe that the world was made in such a way that there were steps to be taken, but boundaries clearly defined as to how far every segment should reach.
It trickled into the society and it was not strange if a young man/woman had an opinion that we were told in no uncertain terms, “Know your place, boy/girl,” whether the opinion had merit or not.
So what is my point? It is time that we seek to come to decisions that will allow all factions in our society that are currently fighting secret but vicious battles, and setting the stage that leads one to believe that it is “us against them”, to come together for the common good.
The most critical factor, I believe, is the man-woman factions. If one attends any of the fora set up by the men’s forum, one will feel a deep-bedded anger equal to that exhibited in women’s groups, that immediately sets the stage for the dangerous “us against them” syndrome.
War is not the answer; it never is. Even in small wars neither side wins; there has to be a common ground and we must find that common trait.
However, the responsibility of teaching respect, self-esteem and the capacity to understand what is needed to develop a family with values – values that do not include beating your wife physically or women beating their husbands emotionally – must be taught by example. Examples must be seen every day and every night, for through repetition the message is learnt.
It is not us against them or anyone, except in friendly competition, for competition is healthy, but rancour and manipulation of the rules are tantamount to deliberately destroying our country.
We will never all be equal, but we have the capacity and ability to be fair and to respect each other. This is what we really need in a country where we have at some time passed everyone on a street somewhere, and where, through the very nature of our society, one blood courses through the veins of us all, intimately and permanently mingled, unmindful of origin and type, but sustaining us all along the way, man or woman.