Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Apr 21st 2010 2:30PM by Alanis Morissette
I vividly remember a woman in her 50s speaking with me a few years back, a tried and true "real" feminist (feisty man-bashing books to her credit and everything), admonishing me for not kissing the ring on her feminist finger. "After all," she said, "without my big Gloria Steinem-eqsue moves, you wouldn't be where you are today, young lady."
Not one to typically be disrespectful to my elders, I was wont to graciously bow down and prostrate before her, crediting her for opening the doors that seemed to so easily swung open before me in what was continuing to -- and from my perspective, inaccurately so -- be deemed a "man's world." The naïve luxury of it all was lost on my youthful and limited perspective.
But being human and just as egotistic and smug as she was behaving in that moment, I also found myself wanting to hip-check her for her lack of exhibiting the exact quality that furthers evolution in my opinion: partnership, the kind that invites that nefarious pendulum to hang, finally and rewardingly in the middle (this being what I deemed to be the goal of the egalitarian "feminist movement").
This was certainly not the first woman older than me who wanted credit for what she felt she fought to bring to us, the younger generation.
And while where we are today was unarguably and tirelessly hard-won by billions of brave souls, brazen women on the leading edge of evolution, I was also hungry at the time for a more grandma-like graciousness and wisdom. I missed the all-knowing, Mother Mary quality that ushers the new -- and yes, I'll admit slightly unappreciative -- maiden into her newfound role. I guess I wanted her to hand the baton to me saying something my grandma would have said, along the lines of "you go, angel. Keep the flame alive for us."
Ultimately this exchange raised three things for me:
1) I saw how underappreciated my mom and my grandma's generation is for laying the profound groundwork that they have. No matter how ignorant I/my generation have been about their contribution, their powerful link in this evolutionary chain cannot go unacknowledged.
2) I was crestfallen to see that even this exchange was subject to the very thing that I believe disempowers us as women and men alike: our viewing this movement in an overly personal and proprietary way. And that the very qualities that created the need for the feminist call to arms to begin with -- separatism, competition, ego, etc. -- were being exhibited within the very movement itself! Ah! Real irony!
And 3) I could see that a new era had dawned while this woman was looking for credit for her singular contribution. That the days of believing that any one person singlehandedly and messianically can create a profound sea change are over (and perhaps never really existed). And how our overly identifying with this role as "feminist who deserves credit for singlehandedly changing the world" can actually distract us from doing what we need to do to move forward in consciousness.
That the new vision becomes a world created by an internal shift of orientation, a shift that supersedes the temporary high of our egos being praised for our individual contribution, and rather focuses on a conscious and forward movement that we all collectively contribute to in different ways.
Through this lens, evolution and progression are seen as an existential imperative. And while it seems seductive to hold onto it as "something I have personally contributed," it denies it of its outrageous simplicity: that as a team we are ALL ushering this forward, that we are ALL simultaneously receiving the same transmission of being of equal value to each other and that we are all, in varying degrees and in varying ways, responding to that call.
And so I find myself here in 2010, a year that evidences partnership as the new bra burning. I find myself wanting to walk my talk and reach back out to this woman, who I am unable to find for having fallen out of touch.
I want to thank her and give a long overdue shout-out to entire generations before us that made ceaseless efforts as a collective to pull us out from underneath the stifling and annihilating repression of women, an ultimately separatist and life-denying act. God bless you each from the bottom of all of your postmodern daughters' hearts. Our taking this baton in no way invalidates your contribution, and we want you to know that we can be trusted to take it from here and greatly appreciate your belief in and support of us in doing so.