Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Women's Struggles and Sacrifices

It's a little after 3:30 PM here and I'm sipping the last quarter of my comfort mug of breakfast coffee. I finally succeeded, after three attempts, in actually arising and staying out of bed at 1:10 PM. The laundry still sits next to me in the over-sized bag I use to take it into the basement where the on-site laundry is located. It's been patiently waiting since it was organized on Saturday morning.

Yesterday I finally understood the symptoms. Sometime between one of my risings and about an hour ago, I started putting these dynamics together like rails on a picket fence. Parallels of women in history who strove against the odds and how they felt about their circumstances, the prices they were paying -- and still are. Some of those heroines were recorded and acknowledged for their efforts, some not. The totality of them are now my sisters, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins in time and women's issues and feminism. They are my predecessors and I am the predecessor of the ones who come after me who have not yet learned the lessons of the extra effort to be a notable woman for your value and efforts and how to be recognized and acknowledged, even by some small audience, for having allowed your cup to spill over.

Right now I understand the difference between the glass half full and the glass half empty. It is half full because it is constantly being replenished. Therefore, it is never depleted and is always in some state of being full. The glass half empty started as full (maybe even more than full) but is constantly being depleted. There's nothing or only drops that attempt to refill but it is insufficient.

Recollection of the story of Mary Wollstonecraft comes to mind, especially her last year, in light of the radical political philosophies she promulgated. She struggled and strove to get her manuscripts not only published but also be paid for her efforts so that she could survive as well as care for her child. One sacrifice after another she made. First, sending the child to another family so that she would not have to endure the starknesses, the want, and the deprivation of existence that loomed for her mother. Unfortunately, the child (Mary Bysshe Shelley) and especially her older sister did not understand the sacrifices and thought herself a monster who had been rejected. But even in her state of depression, she gave birth to such rich literary classics.

Recollection of those two also calls to mind the unrecorded and timeless histories of mistresses throughout the ages of slave masters. These women obediently gave their bodies to endless days of labor in the house only to find themselves gratefully giving their bodies throughout the night. They were grateful that those were the payments for not being thrown into the streets to fend for themselves with no means of support or else killed for failure to submit. At any rate, they were spared their lives at the cost of their souls.

Some remembered how to sing and did. Some remembered the beauty of their surroundings and sucked them in at every opportunity. Little things gave a bonus to watching the sun rise each morning and offer an Amen as it set at night. On occasions, the one of her heart held her close and poured his life into her loins; she had the joy of remembering that there really was Life and tenderness and grace and meaning to the constant struggle.

What would have happened and where would we be had those women said "No" to the oppression, "No" to the repression, "No" to the cruelty, "No" to the ridiculous, and "No" to the insidious? I dare say it would be like the night skies without the multitude of stars because we would have none of the heroines, sung and unsung, as our guide stones.
Hard was thy fate in all the scenes of life
As daughter, sister, mother, friend, and wife;
But harder still, thy fate in death we own,
Thus mourn'd by Godwin with a heart of stone.
(from "Wollstonecraft and Fuseli" by British poet Robert Browning and that by William Roscoe)

Yvonne LaRose, CAC


Yvonne LaRose, CAC said...

I wanted to post a link to additional information about Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay (http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22605) and how her life influenced her uncle, the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, to outlaw slavery in England. Unfortunately, I can't do that right now.

You see, although I thought I made the post to this blog because it related to history, I did not. In fact, I made the post to a blog where I was solicited to write about diversity. Without notifying me, the owner of that blog deleted not just the post but the entire blog.

So it seems the lessons learned about women's never-ending struggles to survive were underscored. But at least I've shared the poem and additional information about Dido Belle.

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