Friday, 16 December 2016

I went to OZ to ask for courage, but it was hiding in my heart.

I’d be lying if I said I just sit down and write. Most often the topics I write about have been percolating, evolving, stretching, and flipping around in my brain for weeks or even months before I ever sit down to type. Even then, the words seem to flow through me more than from me …. And I agonize over each turn of phrase. I write to deal with the emotional turmoil in my head, and to try to balance out all the things I feel sad or mad or scared about with something that feels hopeful. Sometimes that can be hard to do. I have had a terribly hard time trying to find the words to quiet my fears for women right now. Something just changed, there was pressure building up under that glass ceiling we’ve all been hanging from, building and building, and our ears had normalized the pressure and we stop feeling the squeeze. But something changed and the ceiling shattered but the pressure wasn’t pushing up, it’s pushing down and the air is full of the jagged shards of the illusion.

I have an opinion on many things. I am rarely wont for a thought or two. I have been wrong and right. I have always thought that I was careful about expressing it so I didn’t hurt or offend others. I have convinced myself that it was ok that I had an easier time expressing my view points when I was in the company of women and men who I felt safe with. I told myself I wasn’t afraid. I told myself that my opinion mattered. But the truth is that I know when I use my voice in the spaces that it is really needed it is dismissed because I am a woman and, worse yet, because I am a Mommy. My voice may get heard but it isn’t listened to. It’s the monkey with a type writer …. “sure, it wrote a few lines of Hamlet, but it’s still just a monkey”.

And it’s not only because I am a woman, but it is because I am a woman that my opinions are automatically lumped into the ‘heart over head’ category. Men who let the heart guide them are referred to as ethical or honest instead of sentimental or soft hearted, but their thoughts are deemed irrelevant too. We are fast becoming a society that sees compassion, ethics, caring, and prosocial behaviour as weakness. We have made the heart the enemy, and the disenfranchised and the frightened have filled the space left behind with hate.

In the last year or two I have watched it bubble and rage. The hijab shaming, the resurgence of blaming rape on the victim, the homophobic cementing of gender, the societal backslide to viewing women as sexual gatekeepers, the ‘lock her up’ campaign, the ‘ditch the Bitch’ mentality, the bone crushing hate of women in politics, the dismissive treatment of female journalists, the attacks on the rights of a woman to have autonomous control of her own body, the labeling of birth control methods as unnatural or sinful, the treatment of sexual enjoyment as dirty and not celebratory especially for women, the consent debate, the terrifying threats against vocal women and then the trivializing of those threats by the same influential people who incited them in the first place, and not to mention the 2016 election of a truly terrible human being as President-elect of the US. On and on, our possibilities narrow and blur.  And then today I saw a video of a man follow behind a young woman and mercilessly kick her causing her to fall violently down a flight of stairs while his 3 friends looked on. It’s awful to watch. But it feels like a symbol …. Like a sign. When you make the heart the enemy the void does fill with hate but something else as well, because in the end it's not the hate it took to do this, it's the utter indifference of her as a human being that is terrifying. It’s soul crushing. It's breaking my heart, but at least I have one and it's no time to stay silent.

I love Wonder woman. She's my favourite superhero. She had a heart and she wasn't afraid to use it. But, let's face it, she had to use a gimmick to get heard. Every damn time an issue came up that needed her involvement she had to pour herself into thigh high stiletto boots, a bustier that defied the laws of physics and a skirted bikini bottom which required more ongoing grooming than I would think a Super hero had time for. Would anyone have listened if she showed up in sweat pants, no make up, and an intelligent heartfelt good idea?

Let me tell you why you need us women, us Mommies, us softies. You need us because we kept our hearts full to do this work. Because we constantly battle to raise good and decent human beings, because we endlessly balance the wisdom of parenthood which innately dwells within us with the white knuckled panic of believing we are doing everything wrong. Because we are in it for the long game …. We won’t know if it worked for decades, and we’re willing to see it through. We know that success for our child at the expense of someone else’s is no success at all. We know that as parents no two of us are alike but when rallied around the same goal for our kids we can make the impossible possible. We know how to spot bullshit, even when we stupidly buy in. We know the head and the heart must work in concert if we have any hope of getting it right. We have no time to rest on our laurels or lick our wounds because they’ll be up again at 6 and want food. We know the greater good is good for our kid and we know it’s good for yours. We know any differences we have are leveled by the equal ways we love our kids. We know our kids need boundaries, and rules, and consequences or they are selfish tyrants. We know sometimes there is no solution so we must just get on with the fixing work. We know sometimes you do negotiate and sometimes you don’t. We know teaching them how to be grateful is the key to their future happiness and teaching them to use their ambition to be their best self is the key to their future fulfillment. We know that nothing boils down to a black and white answer so we better align ourselves with people who hope for the same good outcome for our kids as we do for theirs and nurture those relationships. We know we will mess up, we know we are not perfect and we know our kids aren’t either. We will yell, we will completely lose our shit, we will say things we can’t take back ….. because we care too much to just leave. We seek to make our kids better than ourselves. And isn’t that what every generation should do? Shouldn't every generation work to make the one which follows better?

When we seek to become better than what came before we align with a goal that transcends partisan politics, religion, polarized points of view, and most certainly transcends gender. You need us. The world needs us. The heartless have become the lyrics and the music but the song is now wildly off beat. Turns out we need the heart or we die. I am a woman and a Mother, and more importantly a person with a heart. My heart has a compass which is always seeking true North and, although it often spins, it is always trying and it’s not afraid to point into grey places. It knows the answer often lies in the grey. You need my voice attached to it's strong heart, even though you have always viewed it as irrelevant. Even though I did too. Because it is powerful …… I, and the 'oh so many' of those like me (of any and every gender), are your canaries in the coal mine and we’re signalling the alarm. You need us, and we are stronger and braver than any of us thought.

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