I’m really pleased that Women’s Month is over. In over five years of my monthly blog- starting in January 2014- I’ve barely missed a single month. But this year, I missed my June, July and August blogs. Every time I thought about it or wanted to write something, it felt pointless, useless, a waste of time. On the internet, everybody becomes a writer of sorts in some way, and nothing I said would change the world. Whose view counts most anyway?
But my experiences over the last few weeks, the end of August and women’s month, and today being the beginning of Spring, here I am.
This is what I want to say.
There’s a certain madness out there in the world. It’s feels overwhelming and out of control. Beautiful young women go missing too often, armies are called in to fight drug-fuelled gang wars, forests on the other side of the world are furiously burning and there’s a dramatic sense of anxiety, of helplessness. It feels chaotic. The world’s ‘leaders’ are barely sane enough to be civilized citizens, climate activists are led by a sixteen- year old, (how awesome is she?) and women and children around the world continue to fall victim to a record number of violence and horror.
Since I started with my consultancy for women’s rights in April/May, I have been privy to an increasing number of sad marriages and even sadder post- marriage situations. And quite frankly I can’t bear it. There seems to be such a disconnect between men and women that one wonders why the hell we still bother to cry at weddings (a prayer of optimistic hope?) when so much heartache and pain is so often the final result, leaving children to suffer the fallout. Never have I heard of so many men being categorised as ‘narcissists.’ When did this category of men come into existence? How did they develop? What were their roots? Were they narcissistic children or teens or young adults or did they only become categorized as such on marriage?
What are the causes of human disharmony? Why, with all our skills and supposed advancement can’t we work this stuff out? And must we assume -as it appears- that men are the root cause?
In all the madness of women’s month, another FB site popped up- SA women fight back- and someone invited me to join. I felt like I should. I want to help but within a few hours I felt a pain so deep it felt like I was diseased. How was I going to respond to all these stories of rape, abuse and harm and violation? There was such vengeance, antagonism, hatred. I just wanted out.
I read another woman post of F**k you language. F** Women’s day and let’s shout, louder, harder. Let’s get aggressive, angry, protest and petition.
But it made me shudder. I cannot bear such antagonism and language. It leaves me cold.
And then in my own work, it also becomes a case of calling in the lawyers. And the language one hears around what lawyers do seems to suggest that they have to ‘break better’ what’s falling apart. Get the best lawyer, the toughest one with the best reputation who will clean him out, make him suffer, win at all costs, get the best settlement.
But sometimes it feels like more chaos being left in its wake.
And I don’t want to fight back. I want to find another solution.
I cannot carry the weight of the world alone and yet I want to play my part.
I drove up the highway out of town in the dark and the rain on a Wednesday morning in the middle of women’s month. It was still early. I had just dropped the kids at school. I was five minutes into the trip with the traffic just starting to flow when I heard the hard hooting of a taxi. One or two had just screamed past me, overtaking on the left, rushing back on their return trips to collect more passengers. Other lives. I slowed down and looked into my left- hand side rear view mirror. There was a little car on the left of me, a single driver driving at regulation speed, who must have annoyed the taxi behind him. In a few moments the taxi swung out and overtook him on the left – I was in the right- hand lane next to the barrier- and slammed on breaks right in front of him. I slowed down further. The roads were wet and there were cars all around, the concrete barrier close to my right. The driver in the small car was forced to apply brakes immediately and I watched from behind as the scene unfolded. He gripped his steering wheel and then tried madly to overcorrect as his car started sliding; first to the right when his car came within inches of mine and then to the left and then he lost control altogether.
I watched in horror as his wheels must have locked and his car then spun out of control and turned sharply left across the highway. His car kept going, miraculously missing any cars in the left lane and the lighting poles but careered off the highway, onto the dirt, into the grass, down into a ditch alongside the highway and overturned. I turned to look and watched it roll on its side – was it once or even twice? – the driver trapped inside, until it stopped on its roof on the side of the highway.
I gripped my steering wheel tighter and howled “Nooooooo…” and hot tears burned in my eyes, but what could I do? I grabbed my phone next to me and dialled the first emergency number in my phone and in my panic relayed a garbled version of what had happened, and could she please call the relevant emergency services. I was still in the fast lane on a dark, wet highway.
The taxi had sped off and left chaos in his wake: aggressive, abusive, out of control behaviour.
That’s what the world feels like. Aggressive, hostile and violent leaving chaos in its wake.
How do we respond? I have no answers here. Sometime even words aren’t enough.
I looked at some of the pictures I’d saved on my phone over the last three months to see what I’ve been thinking. What has moved me to capture the moment. Perhaps these explain what words can’t: where we find, here and there, a little peace.
We want to fight back against all the chaos but how should we engage with the world?
What should women do?
And this is what I think we can do.
We can engage our feminine strength, our nurturing and our care. We need to start at the beginning. We need to nurture and love and comfort the babies right from the beginning. The girl babies and the boy babies who we are able to feed from our breasts and kiss with our lips. We need to teach them that growing up means respecting the world and respecting each other. Loving. Not fighting.
Yesterday I came across a little piece on a Ted Talk. It feels a little unrelated to what I’ve written about here but perhaps it’s where I started with women’s legal rights and one of the ways in which I think we could make the world more harmonious.
One of us must break the pattern.
It was a clip by Liza Shaw who is a marriage/relationship therapist and specializes with people who are on the edge of break- down. Here is a brief precis of what she said.
We think trauma and breakdowns are normal: it’s what the media tells us. But there are old models of marriage and new models of marriage and if one ‘de-constructs’ marriage, there are some things that can change. We can help to breakthrough not breakdown:
• old models: people who love each other shouldn’t hurt each other; new model: hurt is inevitable and it would be better if we were taught how to deal with it
• old: happy marriages require compromise; new: compromise causes point scoring and is not empowering, rather create solutions through communication
• old: it takes two to make a marriage work: new: NO. it takes two to maintain conflict but only one to break the conflict
Perhaps somewhere in the madness, we can find new models and make some new breakthroughs.
Here’s to beautiful spring beginnings.
Til next time,