Years ago I realized that my life-long feminism was rooted in a deep sense not so much of the stereotyping of feminine/masculine roles but of the unfairness in the way the masculine was assumed to be more important, more worthy of praise, more relevant than the feminine. Even now, it is not gender roles that upset me, it is gender judgments biased quite negatively against those considered to be the feminine ones.
To me, the dichotomy -- seeing masculine and feminine as separate -- is made worse by the assumption that they are also unequal. And this is frightfully exacerbated in that it also opens the path to the violence perpetrated against women across the world: she is inferior, she is unworthy of my respect, therefore I/man need feel no compunction about brutalizing her.
I agree with Mariechild in today's reflection (from Open Mind -- Women's Daily Inspirations for Becoming Mindful) when she says,
"We have forced women and men into stereotyped roles, falsely assuming that only women can express the receptive and only men can express the creative. Yet these streams are manifestations of the one river of life, and exist together in both women and men."
And Tan Guangzhen, whose verse Mariechild quotes, promises that
"But the day you join them together to form the elixir,
You fall drunken into the jug yet have no need of support."
As with all stereotypes, the feminine/masculine one has basis in genetics and survival. I find it useless to pretend it does not or should not exist. I prefer to clearly see the stereotype without denying its reality so that I can join the dichotomized pair in openness of mind and heart. I don't deny that there are feminine roles and masculine roles; I long for them to be freed of judgment so that we can rejoice in the new life, the richer choices, given us by their joining.
For several years I have been living what might be considered a more "feminine" life. I am unable to work due to the chronic migraines. I stay quiet, alone; I take care of the household and our little dog; I cook and bake; I nurture relationships as much as I can through facebook, email, phone calls, and visits when the pain allows me. When I started school in August (at Goucher College, in their Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program), I added to my life the more "masculine" pursuit of creativity and study.
I have said that I enjoy being productive, now that I am in school after two years of being unable to manage a job. And yet I know that my creative work is utterly dependent on my receptive work and that to judge myself as more worthy or more productive now that I am writing and studying is to disrespect these years of deepening spiritual growth, nurture of self and others, acceptance and equanimity.
With this realization, I can fall drunken into the jug.
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Carol D. Marsh
- With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90 days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.