Women and Our Future Pt. 4

Broad Based Opposition

 

(I know this picture may seem a little strange in this context but I couldn’t resist. She is holding out something glowing and wondrous to all of us.)

Some Women Object

Seregon in her comments pointed out the opposition of some women to feminism. I have to say I haven’t been attacked for expressing my support, but then I haven’t spent much time in public making declarations. But I do have to wonder if men can declare support and other men simply dismiss them. But when women declare their independence it seems that is a threat and the opposition is made public.

The Threat of Change

But the threat is not just to the patriarchy. The threat may well be to the stability of the system which will affect women as well. As a psychologist I have had to conclude that people hate change. Doesn’t that sound awful? But the fact is I spent much of my career dragging people toward their future. There is good reason for the resistance in terms of internally established systems which I won’t go into here. But at one level we can see how the fight for women’s liberation is truly broad based. It is actually exceedingly complex.

Cultural Opposition

One of the things we have to face is what the anthropologist Leslie White called the extrasomatic stream. Even my computer hates the term and stubbornly refuses to keep it the one word it is. There is something for everyone to love and hate in culture which is what that stream is. It lies outside of ourselves and requires our attention in a demanding fashion.

When women stand up for themselves, they demand change which affects us all. Some people have insufficient perspective to accept an exploration that change often brings benefits and an enhanced future. And they construct excuses, as is the case in regard to women’s reproductive rights, so they can deny women those rights. Some may be uncomfortable but we have to look at what might then be. Of course, that is something, with my personality type, I love. Possibilities are the luscious fruit of my existence. But it does have to be found and tended.

Justice

Understandably some women will stand in opposition to these changes and it is our purpose in having discussion and dialogue to open the view of benefits and, yes, justice. I introduce the word justice because it is at issue. When you don’t have rights, or not all rights, then you do not receive justice. We see it in the cries from the black communities and from women as they look at their own possibilities.

The True Meaning of Resistance

And what we face is not an abstraction. As women emerge from subjugation there are many changes both subtle and glaring. They appear at the head of corporations and ask to breast feed their child in public. I have never understood why a discrete woman is to be prevented from tending her infant. And then at church their heads are covered. As I child when I first saw it, I asked but received no acceptable or, to me, meaningful answer. I understand the rationale now but find it still absurd.

The resistance to the change takes so many forms and it seems most of it does not go to the true meaning of the resistance.

Yes, we face change and have to step back and ask, why not and what are the benefits?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Irrational Control

 

Why do you think women are controlled?

Breadth of Threat

To me the image I chose to go with this post is extraordinary! I chose it because it conveys power and threat. Both are at issue in the interactions of men and women and this image clearly has a mythological quality to it.

The Mysterium Tremendum alludes to something most often seen in the realm of the myth. As indicated, it is of interest in this context because I believe it relates to the apparent need to keep women “under control” but certainly with relatively less power. It seems that women pose extraordinary threat. The fair sex? How interesting!

Naturally it may be that the need to keep women controlled or contained may merely be a matter of men wanting to retain as much power as possible. Often the argument is made that the restriction of women’s rights and freedom relate to the issue of knowing the paternity of children. While there may be betrayals, it seems unlikely to be the complete reason. Again, it is hard to come up with a totally clear and complete reason because in so many ways it is irrational. It hints at some underlying force.

The Female Power

What might that force be? There is surely no one force but one of the number may be the extraordinary attraction to a woman felt by a man. We stress a woman’s appearance certainly more than that of a man. At celebratory gatherings the men are routinely dressed in dark suits or black formal attire. It is an entirely different matter for the women.

When we look back into mythology we see the men are often dynamic warriors but dangerous women take another form entirely. They do not classically attack as much as they use extraordinary powers. Certainly in the Odyssey there are examples of the dangers Odysseus faced. There was Scylla who was originally a sea nymph loved by the sea god Poseidon. His wife poisoned her bath water and created a creature with 12 feet and six heads on long snaky necks. Her loins were girded with the heads of baying dogs. Clearly a very dangerous woman. And there was Charybdis, also female, who was a dangerous whirlpool.

At a more generic level we see the contrast between witches and warlocks. Witches are generally more dangerous or are more often portrayed as so. We use the term bewitched to refer to the power of a woman over a man.

Real World Mythic Power

Again I have to come back to the point that it is unlikely we can rationally define the reason women are so controlled. We often make superficial analyses but my suspicion is that the root of the issue is the power of sex and sex is certainly powerful because it is related to reproduction and the continuity of our species. And this power takes on mythic proportions.

The reason for even discussing this issue is that we all suffer from this kind of discrimination and virtual imprisonment. It is clear that freeing women and empowering them is having remarkable benefits for everyone. If we detach ourselves from the prejudice and discrimination, then we can all benefit. Need I say it is also only fair but also need to stress the diversity and complexity of the issues.

What alternative explanations do you have?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

How Are You America? Part 3

 

Small waterfall along a gorge trail.

Receiving Instruction

The people in the western mountains have the opportunity to instruct us. Not that they want that opportunity, but we can learn lessons if only because we imagine what their lives were like and are like now. But it is almost as if there are those who are asking, “why should we care?”

The answer is simple. We should care because we will surely be instructed. And the instruction is important because, like it or not, the world is changing faster and faster and we need to respond. When we begin to seek vision and answers we serve all our citizens and their futures.

Noting and Facing Challenge

Wherever they came from, whatever their stories, it is clear that their lives are challenged. It certainly looked like there were probably limitations of skills. That does not mean absence of talent or the capacity to learn and build new possibilities.

The bottom line is that in so many areas of our country we need to look at the need and possibility for educational opportunities and assessment of the skills which will be needed. It almost sounds like an abstract idea, but looking ahead we should be clear these kinds of challenge are widespread now and will expand in the future. One of the challenges will be not just looking at what may be needed but how to offer what people may not think they need. If they don’t need it, their children almost surely will. The assessment of what is happening and where it will lead and what is needed will take time. Unfortunately I hear very little about such explorations. It may exist but it is not prominent.

Receiving Instruction – Mental Health

There were two times in my past when I received instruction about some of the issues related to mental health. One of them was when I went into the inner city of Baltimore. I learned that these people did not need mental health services as much as instructions and help in managing a stressful environment and the offering of resources they did not know were available or that they might need.

In our “treatment” of them they gained self management skills in addition to being offered resources. The management extended to the self but also to the environment. Unfortunately many of the lessons were lost because of narrow-minded conservatism among the professions and the fact that resources disappeared as the “poverty Program” ended.

But as the perception of mental health is changing now and there is increased focus on management we have an opportunity but we also need to attend to resources.

Receiving Instruction – Vocational Evaluation

The other thing I found instructive was vocational assessment and retraining. In our mental health program, each of our units had a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. We worked closely with them to provide training and support. And the potential of people in entrenched poverty was often truly inspiring. We simply needed to open the world.

I was part of the assessment team and when I left the inner city, I continued to work to evaluate people who needed evaluation and training. There were other lessons I learned—up shortly.

 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women and Our Future Pt. 3

 

Memories and History

It’s curious how simply discussing the topic of women and their place in our society is stirring memories. And at the same time I mesh them with a review of history.

There are Demarkations

World War II was not just a monumental struggle but also opened doors by necessity. We had been mired in the Great Depression and the necessity of the war brought the depression to an end. But the effects were not just economic but also social. As the men were drawn into the conflict, women were drawn into another kind of service. We got to know Rosie the Riveter as women entered factories to work for defense on the home front. Naturally I was too young to make comparisons to before the war but I saw a pride and celebration.

At the end of the war the men came home not to return to the farms but to industry and to found families. Now the women returned home from the factories to bring children and tend the children as we moved into a new era of prosperity. But there was a clock ticking. It ticked off a new “breath of freedom”, yes in quotation marks, for women. It took some time to flower but it did.

A Country Sweeping Us Forward

We rose into prosperity and a new future. The culture forged ahead. I remember my parents commenting on changes such as whole towns suddenly being constructed. Levittown was amazing.

By the 1960s we were to look at a diverse form of revolution. The Vietnam War was prominent and it did not have the caché of the fight against the Nazis. The need for the war was questioned. Was there, indeed, a monumental communist conspiracy we needed to confront?

Suddenly effective birth control became available, we fought for civil rights of our people and women sought equality and liberation. This was a world and a set of issues many people simply didn’t understand. But it opened fronts of conflict and demanded attention to issues with which we still struggle.

One of the Most enduring Issues

As a young man I was intrigued by what I saw women insisting upon. It felt right. At the time a woman who had sex before marriage was considered despoiled. She was not worthy of respect. But improvements in birth control began to suggest, even force, a change. It was a curious change but it seemed that if a woman might not become pregnant she might somehow not be subject to such a negative assessment. Not all agreed but it was then a possibility. Men could have sex whenever they pleased but now women just might be able to have the same rights.

Accepting and Changing Viewpoints

I can’t answer why I was sympathetic or inclined to support a new viewpoint regarding wowen. My household had been traditional. My mother was the doctor’s wife and tended to home and their two sons. But she never spoke against the changes which were coming.

And, no, I did not see the new freedom for women as despoiling them if they chose to have a relationship before marriage. It was OK for men, why not women?

I will never understand why I rebelled at the degradation of respect for women but I did. I immediately resonated to the women’s liberation movement. Equality seemed attractive and I chose to support it.

The Battles Continue

But here we are decades later and we are still fighting the same battles even as women have made substantial gains. But it seems, for many men, women should not be independent and shape their own destinies. And why is that? The rationales forceful and empty. The assertion of power hollow of justification. And it seems at times there are no hints of the wonder of true partnership. There is something much deeper, yes, at root.

Focusing on these issues is having a curious effect on me. I find myself scanning history and there are sudden memories and recollections of events surfacing. Clearly I will be reporting more on these themes.

What are your reactions and recollections?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Meaning and Entertainment

 

What are you seeking when you read?

Reading and Writing As Discovery

Roger the psychologist here. As I tread my way through the world of being a writer, I must confess that it stirs a lot of conflicted feelings and perceptions. I guess many of us may wonder why we write and may from time to time come up with some answers. I enjoy the process and find it one of discovery.

When it comes to reading, I’m not really there to pass time or just for entertainment. I have to be engaged and it has to stir something in me. And recently I had a curious discovery. A lengthy trip on a plane was coming up and I bought some books for my iPad. There was nothing to distract me on the flight.

From Out of the Past

The first book was Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I didn’t really know what it was about but I started reading. It turned out to be set in France during World War II. I was curious about the experiences of the people at the time and she drew me in and gave me their perspective. It was not a love story and was both difficult and engaging. And then something strange happened. I saw the face of a shop girl from when I was with my parents in France. I was ten years old at the time. She was in a bad mood but suddenly froze and looked off into the distance. The connection was instantaneous. As a ten year old I couldn’t understand that the Nazis had left only five years before. But something about that look stuck in my mind and then connected to the story I was reading.

Reflections of Our Personality

We harbor strange things in our brains. And in my brain, I search for connections. I’ve wrestled with a name for the genre I’m writing and have finally settled on choosing the term speculative fiction. I’m what’s called an intuitive personality type and the “what if” is always foremost for me. In Nightingale I think I was engaged with what ifs about how one endures such a terrible environment and then I found I had harbored someone else’s pain in the memory of a shopgirl’s face. I can’t prove that connection but we get stirred in interesting ways.

And There Was Meaning

In the end it was meaning and connection I sought. In Nightingale I found some elements of both. And, in my own writing, I am looking to understand why I chose to write the trilogy of Gaia’s Majesty. And recently I believe I’ve come to understand that it is about the empowerment of women. For decades, in my office, I listened to stories about people’s lives and one thing that came out again and again was the struggles women endured because they might be cherished on the one hand, but in other ways were pushed aside and told what they could not do. So, I chose to convey a story about talented women on an important mission. It was meaning I was seeking.

What are you discovering?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

How Are You America? Part 2

 

Our Awakening

As the drive through the western mountains continued it was time to study and think. It seemed likely the people there in the mountains almost surely would have been the descendants of settlers long ago. For those who stopped and settled, one had to wonder why just there.

We had learned a lesson in Montana near Glacier Park. The summer could be sunny and glorious. People were enchanted, purchased homes and moved in. And then came the fall when the clouds moved in for the winter and it was cold and dark. It seemed likely it might have been similar there in the mountains. Surely there were many interesting stories.

Limited Promise

In the end it was a double edged environment. The mountains were beautiful but we could see that the fields were not rich and grazing opportunities were limited. Anything which could be produced would have to be shipped out over long distances. And, as we could see, most of the year there were few visitors except probably in the height of summer.

Who knows for how long this kind of area was largely cut off from the rest of the country? One hundred years ago they might have begun to receive radio broadcasts. Suddenly there was more information about the rest of the world but it was still limited.

Communications From the World

When I was in college in Michigan and vacation came, it was time to fill the car with other easterners and drive all night toward New York. It was a long, tiring trip but we were young and listened to the radio. There were stations from Texas, across the border in Mexico and so many areas of the country coming to us on AM from hundreds to a thousand miles away. At night this was what the people of the mountains were getting.

And then surely came the day when there was some television beamed down into the valleys. First from transits in the mountains and then from satellite. At last they got a more detailed glimpse of the country at large and the lives of other Americans. Now they became aware of what the lives of others were like and surely compared it to their world.

What Happens Now?

When I looked at this environment, I couldn’t imagine they would welcome immigrants. Life was hard at times, opportunities limited and they needed whatever jobs they could get. It suggested they might be receptive to the manipulative political statements from the recent campaign.

 

Surely the awakening would have been difficult. What it means for their future and ours is open to question. And the other question relates to how we need to reach out in our common cause.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Finding Benefits in Our Lives

How would you assess your benefits?

So much of the time we deal with problems and fraught issues. I thought this time I would share something about my life which relates to the issue of women that has been a focus. My position on the empowerment of women is clear. I am delighted with what I see happening. When I turn on the news channels I see women of all ages taking on effective and essential positions. I won’t spend a lot of time discussing the obvious. At last more and more of the talent of women is being fostered and recognized.

Partnership

And another theme which I feel is essential is that we are not talking about men being replaced in seats of power. There is a much larger issue and that is of equality and partnership. We have so much to offer each other and so many talents to share. And I’ve had the great good fortune of marrying a smart, creative and tenacious woman. I have felt lucky through the entire time from when we were raising our four children, her era as a hippie jeweler and then when she joined me in my practice as a clinical social worker. And now in our later years she has further enhanced our lives with her efforts at our home.

When we arrived at our current home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore we saw a property with potential and that included its settling. The outside was a blank slate and my wife chose it as her canvas.

This is my wife and Shield Maiden

This was her blank canvas

The Oasis She Has Created

                        

 

And then there is the lovingly cared for vegetable garden.

Yes, we have choices but also good fortune plays a role. This post is dedicated to my wife and Shield Maiden who is my partner in dealing with life as it has been, is and becomes.

(In case you missed the series The Vikings, Shield Maiden refers to the women who fought alongside their men. My wife’s mother was Norwegian.)

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt