This week, on the shoreline of Lake Superior I noticed two young women, a young man and a dog. One of the women threw a large stick in the water. The dog went to go get it. The man took the stick and threw it in the water. The dog went to get it. Then, he threw it again, and again, and again, and again. The dog was tired. The water was like ice. The two women told the man to stop. Not forcefully, however, but with tiny, uncomfortable laughs. He also laughed, not tiny laughs, but big, hearty laughs and didn’t stop throwing the stick.
I’ve never considered myself a feminist, until recently. The more injustices I hear about the more I become one and the more I notice the inequality of women and the privilege of men. For instance, my daughter— a talented actor with a stunning face, a wise soul and a thoughtful way about her— has been receiving unsolicited advice from some of the men in her life. I am sure they mean well because these men care about her. But, as I watched these exchanges I wondered what is it in these men that think she needs this advice. What kind of privilege do they hold to give it without asking or really knowing who she is and where she’s at, at this point in her life? Would they take unsolicited advice from her?
While I watched that man continuously throw the stick and laugh each time the dog went out to fetch it in the frigid waters I wondered what possessed him to, in a way, torture the dog. What privilege did he hold that he didn’t listen to the feedback from not only the dog, but also the women? What also struck me was the response from the women. Instead of laughing while they said stop, why didn’t they say stop like they meant it? Where was their power? Were they afraid to use it? Was I afraid to use it for that matter, since I just watched?
This exchange may seem insignificant, but actually it shows a dynamic between men and women that is ancient and deeply rooted. Women have experienced centuries of oppression and restrictions. Because of this, *women have been trained to take the man’s lead and be silent or at the very least, hold back or speak their peace with a smile or gentle laugh. Women listen to men discuss their bodies and make decisions about them. Women are subjected to the looks and touches of desire from men, and sometimes assaults and violence. Women watch men deploy missiles and destroy the planet because men think they can. Women are called bitches when they assert their power. And, women shyly laugh when they see a man do something wrong.
*Men are supposed to physically protect a woman, so we’ve been trained. But women are often the protectors of men emotionally. Women will stuff their voices and feelings in order to protect the feelings of men. It begins with their fathers. Women sense their vulnerabilities and weaknesses and because men are trained not to be vulnerable or weak women make sure men don’t feel vulnerable or weak. Women understand a man hates to be rejected and women make sure they don’t reject them. Some women who do reject a man pay a heavy price, sometimes with her life. The man throwing the stick in the water was pretty impressed with himself. What more could the women do but to giggle and say stop? They didn’t want to destory his confidence, and this became more important than the well-being of the dog. It also trumped the authenticity of the women. Women tend to be thoughtful about other beings. They tend to see the larger picture. They tend to be inclusive. But women don’t always let their nature rule. Women stuff it instead.
But, women are rising. I feel it. It’s not going to be enough to look and act powerfully. Women need more than the Olivia Pope walk to get by. What I love about Olivia (Scandal, in case you don’t get the reference) is yes, she’s asserts her power, but in moments she also shows her vulnerability, her care for others. Women must never let this care for others go. This is where their true power lies and now more than ever women are needed. Women are needed to save this planet from destruction. Women are needed to stand against men in power who are more than happy to have us all be pawns in their war games. Women are needed to use their voices for the children and the oppressed. And, women are needed to advocate powerfully for the overworked dog.
It sounds like a lot, but women are meant for this shit. It’s our time. Let’s rise.
*I am speaking of men and women in general terms. I realize not all women and men fit into these generalities.
The Soul Reporter