Venus Ain’t No Sleeping Beauty

Venusawake

In my post Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine:  Venus, I urged women to reconnect with their sacred femininity.  While this process is important on a deeply personal level, it is also important on a political one.  I want women to reclaim their source of sacred femininity because—here’s the beauty part—doing so will allow us to finish the sexual revolution.  Oh, yeah it will.

How?  By giving us the sense of self-worth and the motivation to push for another wave of civil-rights legislation protecting the rights and lives of women and children while improving the lives of men.  But we can’t accomplish this work until we acknowledge the problem and realize the tools to solve it are already in our hands.  We can’t do this work until we wake up—and believe me, all the sexy Prince Charming lips in the world ain’t gonna do the trick.  If they were, we’d be wide awake by now.

We need to wake ourselves up.

As in the fairytale story of a passive princess, we are asleep because of time.  Too little has passed, and too much has passed:  we are in the middle of a timeline that half of us don’t remember in our flesh (to the young, history is history whether it is 20 years old or 200 years old).  The other half of us do remember it, in body and in mind.

In her book When Everything Changed, Gail Collins says of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “The proposal that women should have equal opportunity to be considered for any job was an idea that struck a great many otherwise open-minded people as absolutely ridiculous.”

The idea that a woman shouldn’t have equal opportunity to be considered for any job strikes many people born after 1964 as absolutely ridiculous.  And yet many of the people (mostly men) who shape our current legislation remember a time in which women were understood—by both sexes—to be inferior to men.

According to Ms. Collins, most of the people on the Commission on the Status of Women, formed in the early sixties as a way to handle “women’s issues” without causing too much fuss, “…tended to treat discrimination as a simple fact of life.”

We still do—all of us.

In a recent online discussion I had about local sexism, a commenter said, “Everyone has their own opinion: yours won’t change the world.”

This attitude is in everything we do:  it is in how we argue passionately and then let the argument drop.  It is in the article I recently read in which a Victoria’s Secret model claimed that she is in the fantasy business, and that we need to see it as such, talk to our children, and let it be.  It is in the way we refer to something a mom should do (learn how to make a special food, tend to an injury, attend a school meeting) rather than something a parent should do.  It is in the way we accept the idea that the world is simply this way—a man’s work is from sun to sun, a woman’s work is never done.  So it has been, so it is, and so it shall ever be.

We live this way because, like the people who brought about such sweeping change in the 1960s, we have been raised on a script that accepts discrimination as immutable.  But those very people proved that deeply ingrained idea deeply wrong—and so can we.

People born after 1964 might think it is ridiculous to say that women can’t have the same opportunities as men, but we hold these truths to be self-evident:

  • The gender wage gap simply is—and whether further legislation is needed to address the problem is a matter of debate with no definite answer, and therefore no political impetus.
  • Our media, though punitive and unhealthy for us all, must be left alone because to regulate it would impinge on someone’s commercial rights.
  • Maternity leave is only maternity leave:  it must be brief because real work will wait on no woman.  And when that woman returns to work, she is the one who must bear the brunt of the housework and childrearing after a full day.
  • Feminism is a word to be disowned, like cancer, rather than a word to be embraced, like freedom.

We buy these ideas (and many others) because they have been sold to us—in attractive packaging—by those who never wanted to pass Civil Rights legislation in the first place.  They have been sold to us by time gone by, by history that we don’t realize is still present.

Sleeping Beauty might be willing to wait for time to wake her ass up, but Venus won’t truck with such nonsense.  Venus knows better, and that’s why we need her.  We need her because her voice—her sexy feminist child-lovin, man-lovin, sick-of-bullshit voice—is the ONLY voice that can quiet the storm out there.

Why?

Divinity, that’s why.

The heat that keeps the fires of gender discrimination burning is a sexual heat.  It is the heat of a strip club, an abortion clinic, a birthing room, a porn studio, and a hateful preacher gone mad rolled into one.  It is a fire-and-brimstone, hate-thyself-as-thy-mother heat.  At its core, it is a  fundamentalist heat that removes the divine from divinity.

To defeat it, we must look it in the eye.  And then we must bring truth—the truth of a hospital room in birth and in loss, of an abortion clinic and a fertility clinic and a bloody bathroom floor after a miscarriage.  We must bring the truth of a lover’s bed, of a mother’s arms—both full and empty.  The truth of laundry and cupcakes, of lipstick and pantyhose, of grease and noise and work, of giving up the body to beauty and to love and to sex, and then giving up the body to blood and to birth and to love and to sex born anew.

We must believe in the truth of our own lived moments deeply enough that we are willing to push beyond the ingrained, unconscious belief that discrimination against women simply is—and that, at its core, it is divinely ordained.

It is this truth—the truth of the divine lover mother—that will set us free.

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