“The white western patriarchal ordering of things requires that we believe there is an inherent conflict between what we feel and what we think–between poetry and theory. We are easier to control when one part of ourselves is split off from another, fragmented, off balance.”
-Intro for “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde
There is so much going on right now, I can’t even begin to get to it all. The main thing is that my husband and I have finally moved into a larger fully renovated apartment in Fort Washington. In fact, we have been literally moving for the last week and a half. We spent Christmas Eve at my sister in-laws but Christmas in general was just a train that sped by me this year. We were focused. We were moving, lifting, dragging, sweating, huffing, sore, scratched. But it was all worth it. A new home for the new year is just one of the best gifts I could ever ask for right now.
This past Saturday, I left the new place to go to Home Depot, brought that paint to the old apartment in Harlem where I met my husband, then we spent over an hour cleaning out the place, removing trash, packing the last few things, putting things out to give away. Then we drove to my mother in laws in Rockland county, spend about 20 minutes getting dressed for a birthday party for a good friend of hers at a restaurant in Mamaroneck. We were there until after midnight. I spoke to my mom Sunday morning. She was like “Where are you now?” LOL!!
Where am I now?
Well physically I’m back at work after having been out for over a week. It’s a bit surreal. But mentally, I’m in a place of feeling a lot of real newnesshappening. There’s nothing more new than being in a new home and sharing that space equally with the person you love and share your life with. It’s beautiful. It’s immediate. I love that feeling! Family is also deeply integral to the things we have been able to get done in this short space of time. Family is so necessary. Family is team. Team gets things done, supports, motivates, challenges. And the feminine aspect of family is radical in it’s ability to influence the masculine. In all aspects of life this is true but in family when I believe it functions with balance, this fact it is fundamentally necessary.
To be quite honest, I have always been reluctant to fully occupy the space of woman because of ways in which I interpreted it’s meaning through the eyes of patriarchy. As a girl, and even as an adult it can be very hard to understand patriarchy even when you’re looking right at it.I hated to wear skirts or dresses because I always felt they impeded my need to run and jump and roll around. I hated the idea of wearing a bra an fortunately didn’t really need to wear one until my 20s. But reading Judy Blume finally made bras seem like a feminine right of passage rather than a jail for breasts which is what I feel bras really are some of the time. I was equally as reluctant even though I had no doubts about getting married, to occupy the traditional space of wife as I saw it as a position of subservience on many levels that I couldn’t handle. But it’s steadily becoming obvious to me that in order for any marriage to work, both halves of the team need to cultivate their natural abilities in order to contribute to creation of something that works for both.
Feminine and masculine qualities exist in all of us but in a world where white patriarchy has vigilantly kept women disconnected from the power of our femininity (not as brought to you by Summer’s Eve or Maybelline) it has become second nature to most of us to feel that in order to have control, to feel value, to be seen and to be heard and taken seriously, we have to use the tools of constructed masculinity. Pants, power suits, no crying, chin up, chest out, doing everything on our own, never asking for help because we’ve been conditioned to see it as a sign of weakness or never admitting we need a man for the same reasons.
For myself, I know that the need for control rears it’s head in many aspects of the way in which I behave. I never even identified it until recently as an imbalance in the way I use masculinity to move through the world rather than equally embracing my receptivity, intuition and feelings. My ideas about what a wife and a woman can be, though I was raised in a progressive way by a mother who has cared for children since she herself was a child are not only pervasively patriarchal but they are also ideas which have come primarily from other women, which makes it very tricky, particularly for women of color to really understand how leading with the feminine can be empowering. Our ideas about power are deeply and systematically influenced by the masculine and so, like racism and self hatred, are a tough habit to break. The idea of leading with the feminine is also one that is difficult to embrace if you feel you’ve already embraced it in the ways which have been dominantly manipulated, policed and promoted by patriarchy.
For me, this is all really a work in progress, a discovery of the kind of “woman” I want to be because I’m realizing that being a woman is so much more than just this one thing. And maybe I’ve always known it a little bit but just never valued it?
God….I never valued it.
There’s so much I was informed about with regard to being a woman, loving myself and being connected to my higher self through spirit which I always felt I valued but am now realizing I never really did because I never really shared it with anyone and never fully lived it. What you live and share with those you love is part what it takes to allow yourself to be the person you truly are.