What do you think is the significance of the movement to empower women?
The Centrality of Struggle
Time and again we see the centrality of struggle in the existence of all living beings. And humankind is definitely not excluded from the process. Recently our hopes were dashed as we descended deeper and deeper into conflict across the globe. Whether it is the broad distress of the Arab world or the appalling malaise of our national politics, we are challenged beyond what we had recently hoped.
One Central Struggle
When I step back, I again and again pinpoint one central struggle which I have come to believe is fundamental. And that is the struggle for the empowerment of women. I know of no research which defines for us the need for its immediacy or how it will lead to an essential outcome. But everywhere we are seeing signs of its importance and steadily perceiving the benefits.
In America we have a war on women. And we have to ask why it is so essential that women be confined and that so many men are willing to work against the independence of women and their opposition includes the availability of reproductive health care which is so central to health care for women. Not once have I heard a definitive explanation nor have I seen illuminating research. In so many cases I am seeing evidence of deep underlying, even unconscious, processes which seem to be at work.
It is easy to dismiss this entire process as a matter of power. But, nowhere do the possible outcomes suggest that it is purely a matter of men yielding power. Certainly there is a component of power but the explanations are insufficient. There may be duplicity in male opposition and they may defend their own women better than women at large. But the process is all encompassing. It goes beyond reproductive rights including showing up everywhere in the workplace. I’ve never heard an adequate explanation for income inequality.
Struggling for Solidarity
And then recently I found an overlooked copy of Bloomberg Business week from early February. In it was a long article entitled “The Female Solidarity, Have-It-All, Feel-Good Machine”. And in the article they ask, “Feminism is being branded and sold like never before. Who is it really helping?” Throughout the article there are pictures of women attending conferences where men are utterly missing. They describe a struggle to work for empowerment. And it is apparent that the struggle is not strictly against men. Yes, the all male panel speaking to the women is gone but the tone of the article is distressing.
Difficulty Within the Ranks
Maybe I’m missing something. It seems women are not unified which is hardly surprising. Utter unity is missing in all kinds of movements. The Bloomberg article points to a great deal of conflict and uncertainty. Yet, the thing that disturbs me the most is the seeming absence of any effective joint efforts between women and men to work together to define and move the effort forward. Or, at least it is not prominent.
Partnership to Build Partnership
Can it be that men are that unaccepting of the movement that they must be shut out of the efforts? Or can it be that women are sufficiently divided that they must close the discussion or be divided hopelessly? I cannot find any significant explanations or example. This movement is essential but it seems we are groping in the dark. Or is it that we do not know what we are groping for or fear what we might find? It clearly deserves a great deal more discussion.
I realize that this post is a ramble because I cannot find clarity of definition for what is happening. I’m not sure any of us know what the empowerment movement means, where it might lead or why we might fear it so. And by that last statement I mean both men and women.
I would love to see some in depth exploration of the process behind this issue. But beyond all the uncertainty I believe the bottom line is that the empowerment of women is a game changer and crucial to the future of humankind.
What do you think is missing in this movement? Why is the struggle so difficult?
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