This Valentines Day, women around the world will rise up to celebrate their own experience. They will rise up to demand security and empowerment. I have said this many times. It isn’t enough to allow women to participate in the patriarchal power structure. Until women are respected as women; until women’s values are respected and privileged above the masculine values of aggression, competition, combat, acquisition for its own sake; until women are allowed to step down from their pedestals to lead the an evolutionary transformation of society, of human values, peace and justice will remain unattainable ideals.
You can make laws, and appoint political agencies and delegate enforcement, but until the underlying values change, it will mean nothing. Every day, women are abused and humiliated, raped and murdered, imprisoned in their own homes and left to starve with children they don’t have the resources to care for, unwanted children, unwanted and uncared for by a society where the rich consume the resources of the poor like power pills in a video game. What will be their fate when the foodstamps are cut and the right to abortion and even birth control rescinded?
We hear a lot about the women raped and abused in Africa and India. Indeed their societies need reform. But they aren’t the only ones. Who is it the provides the weapons and the ‘intelligence’ that fuel the African wars? What country arrested, molested and humiliated an Indian woman over a dispute related to an infraction of employment laws? Whose press reported this as an entirely one sided story where context is irrelevant and there is no possibility of mitigating circumstances? Whose interests were served by the uplifting of a humble foreign worker at the expense of humiliating of a foreign dignitary who is a woman who had attained some recognition in her own society?
How many women are employed as undocumented workers in this country, working in the fields along side their children? How many women are illegally brought into this country to work as enslaved prostitutes and household servants? How often do we hear about them? Liberal and even progressive women rage against the Hijab,and the requirement that conservative Muslim women cover their hair in public, but don’t cry out when our corporate free press and product driven culture encourage pre adolescent girls to dress like street walkers while conservative Christians drive sex education and information about birth control from their schools.
Yes, we need to join a Million Women Rising, not only in solidarity with the women of the developing nations of the world, but on our own behalf. We can be a patronizing branch of a patriarchal culture, or we can rise up and join women everywhere in honesty and humility, and in recognition of the very real faults in our own society, which is a part of the global society, and a powerful one that will only invest in change if we acknowledge the need for change with all the immediacy and urgency of those who are first hand participants in the initiative.
I’m not talking about gay and lesbian rights, though they are important. Every Lesbian, female transsexual and and bisexual woman is first, a woman. LGTB rights fall naturally from the acceptance of every individual as they unfold from birth, just as a mother accepts every child as a unique human being rather than a socially appropriate individual.
I’m not talking about equality in the work place, though that would certainly be helpful. I am talking about basic human rights for all, and about values. You can’t measure equality in the workplace in dollars and cents per hour. You can’t measure a person’s productivity while ignoring her responsibilities to her children. Men and women aren’t, and shouldn’t be exactly the same, but their bodies, their lives, their wisdom, and their beauty should be equally respected, and the values that emerge from their life experience and experience of life equally respected.
Can you have a philosophical balance between matriarchal and patriarchal values. I don’t know. But opening to the feminine can save us all from an increasingly unsavory future. I see there are experiments with ’empowering women’ in third world countries. This is a patriarchal sidebar. We all need to assert our femininity in our lives and in our own countries before we can make significant contributions to changing the world for all. Hooray for One Billion Rising!