Today I wrote the following lines on my public media ‘wall’:
The thing about women’s day is that it makes you think of your losses, and the reasons why you haven’t become what you really wanted to become, in my case, a forest ranger. On women’s day, and as an academic in the academic world, I think of my specialty, namely, lying for the patriarchy so the patriarchy can keep happy. On women’s day I always say to myself: shame on you. Off to the forest to shed some tears by a tree, and cry me a river.
These lines sparked some wonder and amazement. Women around the globe are still dreaming of becoming ‘independent.’ One of them, a good friend, told me that she still plans on being whitewater raft guide. I replied in turn that I would follow such ladies.
Of course, regrets of this kind are often the result of the realization that we all have very limited options to choose between, and which culture endorses. When I grew up, the dominant discourse dictated that unless you were a doctor or a lawyer you were nobody – Forestry, you say. Ha. So, just about everyone I went to school with tried their luck at getting accepted at the university in these very programs, the medical or law school. No one in my high school made it. After failed attempts, 3 or 4 times were not unusual, some went for what else was there, almost nothing. One or two actually got to finally graduate from an academic institution, but not in what they wanted. Hence, today none are terribly happy with their lot, myself included.
All things considered, I think I have a good job at the university, but I work under men and they don’t quite get what I’m up to. More often than not they put it on account of my having a dubious ethnicity. Hence my dubious interests, however ‘academic’, mind you, are not to be reckoned with. I suppose that this makes the men in question happy that they don’t have to dismiss me entirely on account of my gender – which they almost always do. If confronted they would deny it, as it’s not in line with the party politics these days to say that you don’t like women. But we women know all about it. We know what’s what. And yet we can’t do much about it. Things don’t change. Mostly because most men don’t like conflicts. Hence they lie a lot. And then make war. Especially at work. Everywhere. So it goes.
Another friend from Romania posted today, on women’s day, a video. I instantly got tears in my eyes – like I didn’t cry enough for all women’s lot and losses. It was the old recording of Maya Plisetskaya dancing to Ravel’s Bolero. This recording was my mother’s favorite. I saw it many times, yet something struck me today. I always thought that the reason why mother liked this sublime dance so much was because she was a lover of the Russian language, which she saw manifested in aesthetic forms that appealed to her. But today I saw something else in it. I saw the power of the ritual dance. The return of the Goddess. Men are there to serve her, and create her circle. They are not above her. And nor is she above them. But she is still the Goddess. I suppose Maurice Béjart’s genius, when he choreographed this piece, consisted of this acknowledgement, namely, that the woman is not someone one merely needs to reckon with, but dance with. Ah, well, some would say Béjart was smarter than most men because he was gay. Could be. I’d like to work under gay men for a change, if keep working for men I must, and test that hypothesis.
With my dead mother in mind, a woman who had the great fortune of becoming economically independent at the age of 40, I asked another working council to tell me what I might consider doing, as a woman, for myself, in the name of all women who have to put up with the ways of culture, dictating which professions are better than others, and making us all, women, believe that as long as these dictations come from men, they are safe. Says the council of 13:
Break it off with them men, the rich ones and the bossy ones. The ones that keep you forgetful of what your shackles sound like when you don’t move. Rock the boat of all the official men in your life. There will be rumors, but you can start those yourself, for a change. Avoid the wrong crowds of men who say one thing and mean another, and stop giving chances. Leave things behind. The world of the 3 kings is not your world. Lose some more. These losses will be your conscious losses, not the dictated ones. Enter your own religion, and see the darkness within for all it is.
Happy women’s day, or perhaps I should say, have a good one, have yourself, serve yourself to yourself, and forget all about what’s proper according to laws that are not your own. Write your own laws. Heal yourself. Go to the forest and ask a tree to assist you. It will not judge you. Breathe in its power, and let that breath go through your legs and into the ground. Feel the lushness of the earth. It’s where all the vitality and life comes from. Men can’t give you that. They may say humiliating things to you in order to convince themselves that they can control you, but you can ignore them. Leave their lies behind you. It isn’t men that give you power. It’s a fallacy to think that if you can get the man you get the power. Go to the earth instead. Acknowledge it, and thank it. Dance on it. Dance with it, and with each beat make sure you go faster, firmer, and freer. Let the love of yourself flow, and with it, with this love, fly away. May you all be blessed with the power of saying NO to all that which does not serve you.
Note on the deck: Cartes Patientes, Mesmaeker, Belgium, 1930.