Last week I stumbled upon two blogs – both written by women. One black, one white. The black woman’s blog was written in calm, yet strong language, the white woman’s blog was dripping with ignorance. Yet both of these writers gave me pause, caused me to consider their views, one in quiet contemplation the other in a low roaring fury.
The black woman’s page was filled with the power of knowledge. A knowledge of discrimination that is superior to all men and all white women. Black women know all about racism and sexism. They have exponentially more experience with inequality. From the time they are little girls, they are forced to deal with skin color discrimination. They earned their chops before I even considered objecting to wearing a dress.
At 10, I still relished in my grandfather’s nickname for me, “Princess,” happily cocooned in a culture that says young girls are prized, loved and adored by their male caretakers and the delusion that the world at large would reflect this sentiment. Later, when I finally discovered the bars of my gilded cage, the young black women of the world had long since realized that their reservation on the Princess Express had second or third-class seating regardless of their socio-economic status. Their dads and grandfathers may have adored and loved them too, but they had not been allowed the same full fantasy due to the color of their skin.
The white woman’s blog was typical of women whose lacquered nails grip possessively to their tiara; those who think a patriarchal world is just fine. Her ignorance of both the #MeToo activism and Women’s history was so repugnant I could barely finish her short angry post. This woman, I am embarrassed to say, felt that women want equality now because all of the hard work (building infrastructure) has already been done by men in the U.S. and now we pampered little girls want the sugar frosting icing just like the boys. But of course, in her myopic little world, women have never struggled.
What the white writer doesn’t realize is that a generation or two ago, she wouldn’t even have had the opportunity to speak her mind in the public arena. She would have been relegated to the objectionable camp of tramps and whores otherwise known as divorced women. Even during my childhood, a divorced woman was the embodiment of Lilith*, she was dangerous and a horrifying reminder to those in the safety of marital bliss that they had better toe the line or be cast into this land of misfits.
I do not pity nor fully identify with either woman because I am somewhere in between the two. I will never comprehend what it is like to be discriminated against due to the color of my skin, but I can understand the outrage and frustration of being a woman and being treated as “less than.” I can learn from the black writer, I can sympathize, I can listen. Is it possible for us to find common ground even as our obvious differences divide us?
Yet, I am not that naive white woman either, she embarrasses me because I have known that ignorance. Maturity and education provided the key to my gilded cage and I chose to leave, but many choose to stay. I need to contemplate what went wrong from the “bra-burning” days of my mother’s generation until now. Why is it that so few women know about women’s history?
I don’t have the answers but I intend to keep looking.
*Lilith was Adam’s wife before Eve. According to lore, she was not willing to submit to Adam’s authority as she was made at the same time as Adam and was equal to him. In short, she left Adam to wander the earth. She was later villainized, accused of killing babies. Depending on the source; she is revered or feared, an interesting persona either way and certainly an excellent stereotype representing the divorced woman.
Image credit: Author unknown. Found in Mulberry Art Studios, Lancaster, Pa on 1/5/18. Beautiful isn’t it?
Listening Between the Raindrops is part of Zen Cat, LLC.