Elizabeth Warren is one of my favorite accidently-with-purpose heroes. The phenomenon of “she persisted” that caught fire after her attempt to stop yet another anti-human nominee in the U.S. administration could not have been predicted, but she did prepare for it. Like Rosa Parks who refused to move to make room for yet another white person, Senator Warren has prepared, practiced, learned, and gathered her folk to defy the system that is designed to diminish her.
My friend, Parker Palmer, first highlighted from me the quantum stomp that happened when Rosa Parks refused to continue to participate in her own diminishment. Hers was the third attempt to ignite action by refusing to move on a bus; two other attempts had been made by two other women who were efficiently swept way in to obscurity.
Third time’s the charm.
Rosa had attended Highlander Folk School where she prepared for desegregation and met Dr. King, who was unknown before participating in Rosa’s defense. Rosa was surrounded by support from the NAACP, her family, and the Highlander community. They had prepared and persisted until Rosa Parks became an accidently-with-purpose hero.
My fingers, hands, and arms would all fall off long before I wrote about all the women I know of who have persisted to defy the system that is designed to diminish us. And that’s just the ones I know of…
Still, there are too many women who are continuing to participate in their own diminishment. Who put fragile (white) men and their desires before their own needs. As a white woman, I was fascinated and horrified that mine was the deciding demographic in the 2016 presidential election. This was Stockholm Syndrome writ global. This is how you enslave over half the population. We have been trained, conditioned, and indoctrinated into serving a system that ignores our needs and concerns, uses us as mere objects to please men, and ultimately punishes us for existing.
It’s worked. We spend millions of dollars/euros/yen to be attractive to men, not just for potential sexual partnership but for jobs, medical care, social services, housing, and just going out in public. We live in a world – yes, in the U.S., too – where a displeased or disgusted male gaze can be literally deadly for a woman. The thing men most fear from women is laughter; the thing women most fear from men is murder. And many women have become proxies of men, becoming the hit men for the punishing paradigm and our worst enemies. That any woman still has any sense of self-worth and strength to walk through another day is fucking amazing.
What if we stopped this shit? What if we spent our money on democratic campaigns rather than make-up? What if we bought books rather than botox? What if we spent the time we have dedicated to caring for male egos and spent it on talking with each other about how we can make the world better for children and trees?
I’m done caring for men (except in cases of reparations); they have everything. White men are so privileged that they perceive the loss of any privilege as oppression! Men had this world in thrall for millennia and have thoroughly fucked up our paradise of Earth. It will take persistence to turn the tide of extinction, focus on the possible, speak out, create new habits of care and attention that are independent of male ego. We’re the ones that have more education, who go to religious services most often, who care for children and elders, and who call together community where ever we go. This is what civilization actually is; not masses of monetary wealth, military might, or physical domination. Our culture is not civil; our culture is war. Notice how many times a day you use a military or violent metaphor for things that are not either of those things…
I invite other women, and allies for women, to persist in defying a system of war, degradation, rape, and emotional usury that diminishes all of us…to the point of extinction.