I consider myself to be a feminist. For me that means to place the real raw material me at the TOP of my list of priorities. This me, simply IS, before I assume any role I may choose to play, like Mother, daughter, sister, wife, etc. I find that to live this me, out-loud, is most challenging when I attempt to share it with women. Of course there are a rare few who admit to this, but I find they are jealous, fearful, and at times vindictive, when they run up against Woman Free.
What does freedom look like for me? I am married to a man who willingly pays the bills. No, he is not a rich man, at least not in dollars and cents. I am not expected to be his maid, nor am I asked to go without his emotional support because he is working to pay the bills. I am completely free to speak my mind and he does not make me pay for that by withdrawing support. I come and go as I please and I am free to make exploring, learning, priority number one. He does not attempt to even the score by not coming home or looking for someone who will pay more attention to him on the side. I spend a good portion of my time doing exactly what I choose to do. I happily do my daily chores around the house, admittedly in a hit and miss way, but I love my Home. And you know what, when I don’t make it to the grocery store before the fridge and cupboards are empty, even though I don’t have to punch a time clock, I no longer feel guilty. Interestingly it was women’s reactions to my circumstances that more times than not triggered the guilt. And here in lies the reason for this post today. Before I get going I want to be clear. In the many ways in which women’s lives and health and choices have become political issues, I am a fierce and committed warrior for her. That said, for today I want to keep this at a more in-to-me-I-see [intimacy] level.
So how did a woman with no monetary resources to speak of attain her freedom? It would take a book to tell the story properly but in brief, I fought for it! And I lost far too much along the way. I also gained a true respect for men, when I started working to conquer the defects in myself instead of them.
I sought out female teachers that could help me learn how to remove the shackles I believed to be around my ankles. I spoke with women who were very successful professionally. Single. No kids. Their advice was to find a career path that would secure me financially so I wouldn’t have to depend on a man. Proud women decked out in the finest apparel driving my dream car. Or at least the car that Barbie insinuated I should be driving. I found these ladies to be hard and cold. But the saddest thing was their bitterness. We had all gathered at a yoga retreat. I was there trying on yet another image, one of a many in my quest for self discovery. They were there to buy themselves some well-earned rest and relaxation. As we lingered over tea the topic of men came up. Their stories were the same. Men, everything about them was a disappointment. They proceeded to inform me that they couldn’t find a good lover because they found that men were intimidated by their financial success. They also felt it was nearly impossible to meet an intellectual equal, and they resented the fact that they made more money than most of the men they met. These women appeared to have it all. And still their deepest longing was to have a meaningful relationship with a man. When I asked if they thought that having no ‘need’ for a man was in part the problem, they became enraged. Accused me of being a traitor. Subtly they insinuated that I was nothing more and an idiot housewife and proceeded to attempt to educate me about women’s hard fight for freedom. When all was said and done they gathered up their briefcases [they carried them with them everywhere], and huffed off. Feeling a little sorry for me.
The next group of women I will call working homemakers. Many of them work full-time and they are also mothers. This circle of sisters are totally overwhelmed. Although they love their children, for the most part, they do not enjoy being a mother. Spending time nurturing and supporting their kids is one more thing on their To-Do-List. These ladies spend a good deal of time complaining about their husbands. These husbands spend most of their time away from home. Both of them are frustrated and lonely. Some having affairs and using each others resentments as justification for their extramarital adventures. Spending time as a couple, or as a family is something they add to the list. Most of the time, time alone together, gets crossed off without ever happening. They use that against each other, but neither really wants to spend time alone together. The majority of the men in these relationships work very hard to please their wives. Help out where they can. Eventually they give up because according to her they can’t do it right anyway. For this she hates him. Many of these women,[ like those above], are obsessed with their appearance. They are highly competitive and like to compare themselves to other women to see how they’re doing. They also compare their children to other women’s children. They must come out on top. These couples rarely have sex. At least not with each other.
Then there are the group I will call spinsters. I’m not sure why, but I wanted these women to be the ones who were content with themselves, but it was not so. At least not with those that I met. Many of these women are angry, and more times than not, extremely wary of men. Many have tried relationships with men and found them to be disappointing. Most consider themselves to be die-hard feminists. Some are resolved to be single, but many, secretly, still hope that a ‘good’ man will happen by. Basically other than utilizing them as handymen, when they absolutely can’t handle the task alone, they have very little use for men. If they are having sex, they aren’t going to talk about it.
The next group I explored falls into what I will call the dull housemaid. These women serve everyone. Their children, their husband, their children’s friends, their husbands friends. Their neighbors, their aging parents, and they adopt lots of pets. Some work outside the home but only for the minimal money they need to earn. Their husbands and children have very little ambition. Many of these women lack education and therefore don’t really think about doing anything else. These families are ignorant. That said they don’t do as much men bashing as the women above. They seem to care less about their appearance. They are not concerned with their children’s education and therefore don’t get involved in any outside way in their children’s lives. They are as open about their sex lives as farm animals.
When all is said and done I find there to be a part of me in each of the many different female subcultures, and yet none feels like the force that animates my skin. I therefore linger on the outskirts of these circles where I enter and then leave as my liberty demands. It is there, on the outside, that I am free enough to glimpse the Ancient One. She who Sees through the eyes of every child born. Until daddy, fails mommy, fails daddy. And we all fail her.