I often contemplate social issues. After all, we are swimming in a sea of some powerful hashtags.
I wanted to find an article to teach me what is is to. So I went to the Google gods.
I started reading an article and I was actually amazed. The article was teaching a woman to love herself and to take care of herself. Well, ok. Cool! I can get behind this. That's "my medicine." I teach the importance of taking care of ourselves, all the time. I teach women to honor themselves and to help the men in their lives to honor them as well. So, my question is when did taking time for ourselves get a bad wrap? And, when did women start lowering themselves to men? It is a fact, after all, that all life comes from a woman! So what the heck ladies?
Then I found it. Ah yes! The word SHOULD and the word MUST. Somebody decided how a woman is to behave.
"Your hair must be well maintained and kept healthy. You should not dye it an unnatural color." These words were like finger nails on a chalk board.
Right away the article reads... "Have good posture." "Standing and sitting up straight are signs of a true lady." I chuckled. How many of us were taught that our presence and how we sat at a table were sure signs of what it was to #BeALady?
OH, number 3.... "A lady never scratches or burps or sniffs." eek.... seriously! I mean, of course the "bodily functions" of a "lady" can never be shown. How many of us hold our "bodily functions" in? I would bet that holding in our "bodily functions' can cause health issues. I rest on this social fact, men don't hold in their farts or burps. Quite the contrary!
I liked number 4 "Remember that knowledge is power." "A proper young lady needs to be well read." However, I do not like the word "proper."
I love number 5 "Develop your principles - and stick to them." Lately, I, like many, have had to look at my belief systems. It is important to be open and teachable as well as adaptable to new ideas. I mean you wouldn't want to be seen as dumbo or closed minded. Being firm in your convictions is a good trait, right?
Skip down to number 8 "Pay attention to the way you talk." Oh my! Unconsciously, I was taught to keep my opinions to myself. It seems many women have been socialized to keep their opinions to themselves, as well. I mean, to have an opinion isn't really the sign of a Lady. Now, to Geisha, Conversation, was an art form.
Geisha were traditional, female Japanese entertainers of the "Flower and Willow World", shrouded in secrecy and mystery. Geisha skills include performing various ancient Japanese arts regarding music, song, dance, tea ceremony, calligraphy, flower arranging, poetry and the art of conversation.
It is quite obvious that the Japanese social construct is much different that the Western world. No wonder I am so drawn to Japanese culture.
Number 9 "Be polite." How many times was I told to "be polite" as a child? While I feel it is important to teach girls grace and kindness, I feel sometimes these words have shown girls to push down their "real" feelings. I beg the question, does the phrase "be polite" promote a two faced woman? In my experience words chosen wisely and in the perfect timing can put someone right in their place and create a boundary that is needed, while being polite may create a false representation of who I really am! I can here the Mulan song now... "when will my reflection show who I am inside...."
Number 11 "Respect yourself, so that others can and will respect you." OK. I love this one, obviously. Self Care, Self Nurturance and Self Love are of the utmost of importance! After all, we teach people how we want to be treated. So where and how did we get off track, ladies?
I am sure there are some real negatives as to what it means to #BeALady in our ever morphing society! So I googled it. Definition:
Lady: noun, a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken.
A woman of high social position or economic class.
Slang. a female lover or steady companion.
(in Great Britain) the proper title of any woman whose husband is higher in rank than baronet or knight, or who is the daughter of a nobleman not lower than an earl (although the title is given by courtesy also to the wives of baronets and knights).
Ah! There we go. A Lady was seen as a "higher rank" of caliber. You don't want people to think you're "low class." God forbid.
I remember my Nana saying "Don't do that! You don't want people to see you doing that!" It goes with out saying, right? You wouldn't want to embarrass the family. You wouldn't want to disgrace the family name. So, you behaved accordingly.
To me, this "taught behavior" is fear based. I contemplate whether it is healthy for children to have to "behave" in certain ways. Can't they just be children? Why of course not. Not in a false social construct. However, Im sure many would agree that it is always good to teach children that there is a time and place for "child's play." Of course some parents let their children run around like hooligans. In other words, Just as with children, somewhere along the lines woman have been socialized to behave in certain ways socially. But there has got to be time for her to relax, right?
I have found that many, many women don't get to unwind and relax. They put them self last and are running on literal fumes. When does a women get time for herself? Surely not at all, when you have little ones. For far too long women have had to be "on the clock," "dressed the part," being mom, nurse, maid etc. or whatever it may be. While men on the other hand have had to be the main "bread winner" while getting to behave, speak and act however they want to with little to no thought about its appropriateness. Of course this has softened as of late, but it is still ever present in our culture. In fact quite often men's behavior is brushed off with... "boys will be boys."
I'd like to ask ladies, have we had enough? Can we find equilibrium? Will good men stand up and break this subconsciously okayed masculine cultural behavior?
After all, lately, we've seen men using "locker room talk." It goes all the way to the top. While women are demeaned and looked down upon, men are elevated and their behavior is dismissed. For far too long women are seen as a prize to be won. For far too long women have not been honored. Instead we have had to portray ourselves in ways other than we truly are. Well, ladies, no more!
The Viking women stand out as the kind of woman I wish I was. Honorable. Strong. Intelligent. Fierce and Forthcoming. Wait a minute....I AM all of those things! I possess those attributes. So, why do I question my strength? Why do I question my charm? My wit? My ability to share words of compassion and yet also show my ability to stand in my fierce convictions? Perhaps its because I have been entrained to be somewhat of a passive "Lady."
In the Norse tradition women were in charge of everything indoors while everything outdoors was the responsibility of the men. During war or raids women were excluded from the attacks. It was a grave dishonor for a man to injure a woman, even accidentally, in an attack on a household. And if, for instance, a house were going to be burned to kill the occupants, women and children were allowed to leave without injury. It was considered shameful in the extreme to harm a woman. That is not to say that women never picked up a weapon and used it in anger.
Wouldn't I have loved to learn to protect myself, learn to garden and defend my own honor? Ya right. I have to laugh out loud because I was such a "priss" growing up. Not as much now, but when I was younger I was so afraid of bugs and I didn't like getting dirty.
Like the vast majority of us modern American women, I was shown that you drive to the grocery store, instead of growing my own food and picking from the very Earth we live on. As a result we are disconnected from the Earth and ultimately disconnected from our bodies. We haven't been taught to be grounded. We haven't been taught to be in tune with the natural innate nature of our feminine bodies. We've been fed a false femininity!
Wouldn't I have loved to have grown up to be a fierce woman who could fend for herself, not relying on men? Wouldn't I have loved to learn to stand up for myself, with clear boundaries showcasing my vibrant, creative, sensual spirit? Sadly, many American young girls have not been raised to be self sufficient. Many of us were taught to marry a man, know our place and to submit to be 'taken care of." Of course times have changed, but admittedly that is my underlying prominent belief.
Now, for a quick second let me just say, I love men. I care deeply for my dad and brothers. They are good men. They are polite, strong, courageous, working family men. But there is a current that runs through most men that doesn't fully honor women, instead the masculine mindset demeans the feminine. Yes, there is a common thread that women and children must be protected. However with that same thinking is a dishonoring and dismantling of a woman's intuition and personal power.
With in me I have a ferocious fire of self reliance not dependent on a social structure that would work to disregard my innate nature. Perhaps I ought to bite my tongue. History is full of many stories with war and treachery that are far from pleasant for women. But where are the stories of the Matriarchal societies?
Wouldn't I have loved to learn a presence of power from within my being that holds a fervency and yet a calm compassion that would rule in an over whemling knowing of our cherished, abundant love? Oh, wouldn't I have loved to be taught by the elder women and to take the name of my Mothers Clan?
A Clan Mother is a traditional role of elder matriarch women. Perhaps we are NOW remembering what our rightful role is among the men. Perhaps we are raising ourselves and our daughters into these roles. Perhaps we are moving beyond passivity and persuasiveness into roles of female superiority, operating within a social actuality of sexual equality!
Perhaps we are moving into a NEW life structure that serves the highest good ... with the female principle activated in women, from deep within our Mother Earth ... as our source, countervailing a strongly centralized, male-centered political structure that isn't serving the highest good!
Perhaps if the Ladys took their rightful place things would actually shift because the Clan Mother is responsible for the welfare of the entire clan!
In the Haundenosaunee mythology, it was the Sky Woman who came from the Sky world inhabited by the supernatural beings who fell from the Sky world down to what became the Earth, and who is the Mother of all life in this world, thus making women more worthy of respect. This resonates so deeply for me.
For the Haudenosaunee, it was the Sky woman who created all life on the Earth, and women as the bearers of life, are seen as her heirs, being seen as spiritually part of the Mother that nurtures all life. The Sky woman was considered to be the First Clan Mother, and her daughter, the Lynx Woman, the Second Clan Mother. Since Turtle Island (i.e North America) was created for the Sky Woman when she fell to the earth, the Haudenosuanee traditionally gave ownership of the land to women.
Reflecting this identification of mother Earth with the feminine, for the Haudenosaunee farming was strictly women's work, and the staple crops of corn, squash and beans were known as the "Three Sisters".
The Clan Mothers also conduct the cross-over ceremony which marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence. Perhaps we need these ceremonies to return us to a way of life so we take our rightful place as womb carriers, as the Clan Mothers!
Women are the center of all things. Nature has given women the ability to create, therefore it is only natural that women be in positions of power to protect this function! Since women are the givers of life they are naturally the ones who regulate the feeding of the people. Real wealth stems from the land and its resources. Women are more sensitive to the rhythms of the Mother Earth. We do not own the land but were custodians of it. This is natural law!