October 18, 2016

The Art of being Female

The first year and a half back in school was kind of a novelty.  Being back on my favorite campus, new book bag, new shoes...you know the drill.  Classes were fun, I knew all the answers and things weren't complicated.  All of the sudden, I wasn't making little artsy things to put in a sales window.  Suddenly I was expected to think of concepts and put my voice out there using a medium.

Wait. Hold up...you want me to do what??

Yeah.  Be loud and proud about something.  Thus far, this is pretty much the only place I've been loud and proud with anything.  I have readers but I don't have this massive following, so it's kind of like going to confession...I can't see the priest and he can't see me.

The first couple of art classes were technical, they were based in method and formal aspects of creating art.  Well, I'm not in the beginning stages anymore.  It's time to think.  It's time to find what matters to me and let it be seen.  Sure it's easy to come to a blog space and create blurbs about what you know: relationships, home life, work, etc.  It's something entirely different to open up that rusty lock and swing open that gate that separates the internal voice from the rest of the world.  For the most part I avoid politics or religion in discussion with others.  Every now and then I'll add a little bit or make a point but beyond that...I keep my mouth shut.  Anything I would say is either going to start an argument that I don't want to be in, or I simply don't know enough about the specific topic to make a valid point so I just don't make one at all.  Besides all that, in my experience, even if you know you are right--verifiably right--and the other person is convinced in their rightness as well, the "discussion" will be a war.

All that being said, yes I do have opinions and a voice.  It's not very popular, here we go again with the "I want everyone to like me" bit.  Internal discussion:  "You're on the backside of 30, anyone who likes you, already does.  If having your own thought out opinion on anything causes someone to not like you, let them go.  There are plenty of people you don't see eye to eye with that you're still friends with in some capacity."

OK so that's been established.  I don't want to give all of it away given that my senior show is only a little over a year out, but what I can do is shine some light on what's driving my conceptual process.

In a word:  Feminism.  No, I don't hate men, or marriage, or stay at home moms.  I'm not some crazy lesbian radical who wants to free all the tata's and put all men in pink.  But I am a feminist.  Why would I refer to myself as that?  Well, I believe myself to be the very embodiment of what the word describes.  I am a mother in a heterosexual married relationship.  I have stayed home to take care of said child, I have also been in the military and worked in a male dominated field and now have what is considered the more "ladylike" profession.  A woman can be a feminist and still stay home and raise babies.  A feminist can be a woman who works from home so she has access to her children or her pets, or her spouse.  Or she can be a woman who puts on a power suit everyday, pays for her own dinner, lives in her dwelling alone or with roommates and never enters into a committed relationship or has a child.  A feminist can even be a man who supports his wife, girlfriend, mom, sister, cousin, daughter, stepdaughter, or niece in following whatever goal she sets for herself.

It actually kind of pisses me off that the term itself gets such a bad rap.  That's due, of course, to those who would bastardize it just as people have bastardized other terms:  girl, boy, Pagan, Christian, left, right...you get the picture.  I am a member of a great forum group and read a lot of blogs and articles that center on a patriarchal society, gender roles, misogyny, misandry, and the dangers of all of these things.  What most people forget is there must be balance in the world.  We begin to take ideas literally and that's when things start to go all wonky.  Like the literal definition of "equality".  Be careful what you wish for here.  At one point, jobs were based on abilities, if you were strong enough to handle an aircraft rivet gun, guess what...you wielded one (Rosie's I'm looking at ya'll).  If you're small enough to fit in a tank and weld, then run that bead.  It's about ability.  Yes it's irritating to no end to see a male attorney be paid more than a female one because the education is the same, the abilities are the same...the playing field is even.  So the job benefits should be the same no matter who does it.  Some want to argue the whole "motherhood" card.  "She can get knocked up and take 6 weeks vacation".  Well, since this isn't the 50's where dad is smoking in the hospital lobby while mom goes and discreetly has the baby and then everything magically becomes the Cleavers...guess what?  Men take paternity leave these days and modern medicine is pretty amazing at getting mom back up and around in no time.  She isn't bed bound for 6 weeks, typically in a normal-no complications- delivery she's only on light duty for those weeks.  Work from home?  Field phone calls?  Teleconference?  Email?  It's a technological age people, work around it.

Let's assume mom and dad live together either in a marriage or partnership, if her income is necessary, why not allow him a portion of the time off and he can care for the baby till family members or day care can step in (whatever the arrangement is)?  It's unheard of.  But it's balanced.  I'm very big on fairness.  Divorced/single men have rights to their children when it comes to finances and whatnot...so why not have an equal share in the way the child is cared for?  My ex took care of my daughter for over a year while I was gone.  His mother was almost 2 hours away from him but he managed to wrangle a 3 year old through a tough couple of years.  Yes he had help, he was a single dad.  But he did it.  So why can't any other man who isn't a single dad do it?  To hear the other half tell it, because mom belongs at home and he belongs at work, period, end of story.  I call bullshit.

Yes I wish I'd been home more when she was small, but I've heard many an oilfield and military father say the exact same thing.  I know men who are gone for weeks or months at a time working.  Do you honestly think they enjoy only seeing or hearing their children from devices any more or less than a female would?  It's called doing what is best for the whole.  If both parents need to work outside the home, then split all the tasks.  It's not a difficult concept.  That, my friends, is equality.  Let'em go to work, let'em stay home, let'em do what is necessary and good for themselves as well as the collective.  Stop assuming what works for you works for everyone, all situations are different and you never know what is going on behind closed doors.

Equality.  You want equal pay?  Do equal work.  You want a fair shot?  Do your part.  Do your half of the whole and that's what makes it all balance out.

OK.  I'm off the soapbox for now.  This is the tip of an iceberg regarding this one topic, I stop here because it is such a complex subject.  I'm sure you see why I don't just blurt it out or get into pissing contests on social media.  A. It's nearly impossible to have an intelligent conversation about certain things.  B. I don't like the confrontation.  Trying to explain to a former Marine who knows how to run a sewing machine like a champ that her "place" is in the home is like trying to herd cats.  Just don't.

To be con't...

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