**** Disclaimer: I want to express that I have been and occasionally still am, all these types of women. I’ve been the unfair judge, the hurt retaliator and all the variations between. But what I’ve recognized is that there seems to be a great divide of sides and whenever I’m on one side or another I never feel comfortable enough to stay and therefore go looking for a different way or space and often that “other” middle ground feels lonely.
My purpose in writing this is perhaps just an intrinsic way of trying to reach out and find those women. Or just lessen the feelings that I’m alone in this inner battle. So if you feel like you’ve ever felt the same way, please feel free to comment or share and perhaps we can illuminate the lie of this divide together.
Also I want to acknowledge that our troubles stem from contributions of both genders. Men and women have added to this “war” since the beginning. So if you feel like I’m picking on one or the other, that’s not the point. The point is we can all do better and perhaps we should be looking for solutions rather than people to blame. It’s one of the reasons I chose to HIGHLIGHT women with my clothes. Focus of the good.
The "war on women" is as complex and confusing as the war in the Middle East. There are so many she-militant groups attacking in the name of one cause or another, claiming to be feminine champions, yet all of them trail confusion and leave you not knowing who's your biggest enemy or ally. It's messy, complicated and feels endless and I find myself not knowing where I should stand.
Is there a space one can belong that cheers on women and their desire for equality, but doesn't lay blame on males and patriarchy? Is there a space in which one can admit that there are inherent, natural gender differences without being labeled a religious bigot? A space where one can acknowledge and appreciate the divine strengths and weaknesses of the opposite sex without making it a he or she issue?
I want to be in that space.
Does that exist?
I find myself searching for that safe, no man's (or woman's) land in today's virtural world, and I'm unable to find any safe place to land my feet or feed. It's a minefield of confusion, blame and fault-finding.
When I step in the direction of my feminist female cohort; who has been wounded by a rouge male soldier that claimed to be on her side but in the end was a traitor to his sex laying fire on her, I feel empowered and bold. Afterall, I admire this friend, who instead of letting it destroy her uses her wounds as fuel to brazenly stand on the loaded ground of equality, because she knows the danger of the unchecked enemy.
So I reach out to her to add my weight to her heavy conversations of equal pay, equal education and equal opportunity and I feel good because those things make sense in my mind. And as I do it also helps me to recognize that I am blessed to live in a country where women are given some of the highest freedoms available; but also acknowledge that the world, including the US, is still dotted with suffocating, male-favored biases.
But as I step, I hesitate because I feel like my extra weight is what will set off the mine that destroys our sense of gender identity and leaves us in a world where women and men have no defined roles or clear expectations and become completely independent of each other. A world that women rule and don't need the permission or help of any man. I know the power of women and I know that if this is what the future female wants, she will get it.
That is not a future for me.
So I pull my foot back from supporting my brave friend. Thinking my step for her will do more damage than good and I walk toward my faith led, church going sisters.
I know I may have a place with them in their bunkered-pew.
A place where we sit together, with others, and map out a plan of attack for our army of women. Where we receive rules and instruction on how to act, move and fight properly. It feels good and right, to be gathered together, coming up with ideas and strategies to outsmart our opponents.
And we do, we come up with some wonderful ideas.
But I begin to notice something. I notice that there are some who are directing their gaze so strongly at the rules and lines drawn in the ground to be "safe" within, that they're not seeing the oncoming bullets of self-righteousness, judgement and pride that are aimed directly at them.
They've become so distracted by the imperfections and mistakes of the other female soldiers that they've lost sight of their true protection - the love of God. And, instead, have led themselves out of it. Or yet worse, begin to overstep those guidelines and end up creating “friendly fire”.
So I move away, trying to avoid the peppering damage that the improper use of God's guidelines can do to a soul and I stand still.
No one else to turn to, I am frozen.
And so I turn to silence.
Silence is safe.
I can crouch down, make myself as small as possible and be silent.
There is safety in silence.
So there I find myself, lying in a war zone, wondering if I'm to become like the angry, wounded soldier, who just wants the enemy to understand the destruction she's felt by their casual compulsion? Or am I to become like the blinded consort who only sees the perfection of her path and not the pain of others?
I feel trapped in my own war, the fight between finding a safe, secure place free of shame and fault-finding or gearing myself up for a battle I don't completely understand and will surely bring loss.
This war. The war inside me.
Is almost worse than the one going on above me.
So I stand.
And here I am, standing in no (wo)man's land, trying to make a new path. Trying to figure out why there is this war to begin with.
Searching for a new “team”, a new space.
This was so beautifully written! I share in your hope for conversations. All the love to you and thank you for being brave!