This post is not about politics, a political preference or last night’s debate. It’s about stereotypes...Read More
My father bought his first purse in 1979 when I was a high school student in a college preparatory school in Louisiana. Suffice it to say, other fathers wore plaid and button-down Lacoste shirts. Not black leather.
It was completely embarrassing.
But now, as an adult, I see things differently: a purse (or shoulder bag as my father likes to call it) is practical.
It may not be my preferred aesthetic but I also think it’s none of my business.
Maybe my thinking is skewed because I know, and adore, some men who get manicures (buff, no color), who arrange flowers and who cook: once for women only.
The term metrosexual was coined in 1994 describing a man who is meticulous about his grooming and appearance.
The word comforted straight men, classifying them, so they wouldn’t be judged pejoratively for doing traditionally feminine tasks.
It was revolutionary that you could be a straight male and like things that women liked.
But why all the labels?
Can’t we just like what we like?
Which of course brings me to Caitlyn Jenner. And all I have to say about her situation is…
I don’t care!
Let me correct myself.
I care a lot that she has the right to be whoever she wants to be.
I care a lot that she can look however she wants to look.
When I say I don’t care, what I really mean is, it’s none of my business what Caitlyn does or what she wears.
Who am I to judge or decide how someone else should live?
Or how they should look.
We are always classifying things, trying to come up with solid answers about how things should be.
Maybe things aren’t so clear-cut. And maybe they don’t have to be.
The fact is there are men who have long hair, get manicures and carry a shoulder bag.
There are men who are emotional and prefer a flower show to a boxing match.
Why should we care?
I’ve pondered the difference (or lack of difference) between men and women before. But this topic has taken on new momentum with the hype around Caitlyn Jenner.
Feminists are infuriated by the publicity around Caitlyn’s display in Vanity Fair, and criticize her for flaunting herself in the image of a male fantasy.
Some believe she has undermined the feminist movement.
We live in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, and whether gender is determined by our brains being wired differently, anatomical, biological, emotional, aesthetic or spiritual differences, again, feels like none of my business.
Why do men get manicures, arrange flowers or dance ballet?
Maybe it’s because while men may be from Mars and women may be from Venus, people are from Earth.
“Women are in nearly every way that really matters, superior to men and, moreover, that this superiority is finally becoming evident in our societies.” “In addition to women’s superiority in judgment, their trustworthiness, reliability, fairness, working and playing well with others, lower levels of prejudice, bigotry and violence make them biologically superior.”
“Men are responsible for much more than their share of the world’s wars, drug abuse and sexual misbehavior.”
The above statements appeared in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend. They are the words of Dr. Konner, a professor of anthropology at Emory University and author of, Women After All.
I’ve been collecting data on this topic, doing research, for months.
Pay attention. You’ll see it everywhere.
Feminism is having a revival. With a twist.
The feminism I remember from my childhood (the I Am Women Hear Me Roar era) had an angry tone. People, including women, turned away from feminism because it seemed acrimonious, and so even if women agreed with its message often they didn’t want to associate or align with the movement. The feminism of today is less brash. It is more inclusive and balanced.
Roxanne Gay, author of Bad Feminist, addresses this issue in her book. She writes about how a woman might’ve rejected feminism, believing she wasn’t a feminist, simply because she enjoyed reading Vogue. Today, feminism is taking on a different quality.
In Wonder Women, Debora Spar, challenges how women were told they could be equal to men and have it all. “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never let you forget you’re a man.”
That perspective, or myth, left women overwhelmed, struggling to balance a career and family. In our culture, an attitude of be careful what you wish for emerged as the women’s movement was blamed for women’s problems.
So here’s what’s new: Feminism is now asking men to step up and be part of the change. Sheryl Sanberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, and the author of Lean In, says that men may fear that as women do better they will do worse. But the truth is that equality is good for men too.
At Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City there is a course in Feminism. The boys in the class made a video, clips of each of them stating, I am a feminist.
Every year at Omega Institute there is a Women and Power Conference. 2014 was the first year that men were invited to be a part of the conversation. Elizabeth Lesser’s speech was extraordinary and I encourage you to click on the link and read what she has to say about women and men and power and change.
In her speech, (which remember was a lecture on women and power) she talks about her stepson, and how he is consciously choosing to be a full-on parent. She told her stepson that the way he was being a father was changing the world at its core.
I see my own sons talking to their children and I know something is shifting. In a world that has “denied women of their smarts and men of their hearts” my two and a half year old grandson cannot only distinguish one emotion from another; he can verbalize his feelings too.
“I’m angry at you, Dad.”
“Why?” his father asked.
“Well, I’m not angry at you. I’m angry because we’re not leaving.”
He’d had his coat on and was waiting for his father for some time. He was frustrated and tried to express that. In my day, and in generations before mine, a young boy would not have been allowed to talk to his father in this manner. A boy’s frustration and anger might've shown up in a less than productive way, possibly even a violent way.
We are in a transition.
I can feel it.
I think its because we are entering the Age of Aquarius. I first heard about the Age of Aquarius in the late sixties. As a child, I sang to the 5th Dimension on a record player.
I didn’t know then that the Age of Aquarius was a real astrological age.
But a few years ago, I learned about the Age of Aquarius while attending a lecture at the 92nd Street Y. What I learned was that an astrological age lasts approximately 2,500 years and that the change into this age has begun.
According to the lyrics of the song, the Age of Aquarius will occur…
When the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding…
These are the values (love, brotherhood, peace, empathy) we need to focus on, knit into our consciousness. These principles, historically, have been associated with woman, and were thought of as weak or too vulnerable.
But no longer.
If this is where we are headed, women must take leadership roles. And men must support them.
Let the sun shine in.