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~ Mary Oliver
Some black ducks
were shrugged up
on the shore.
It was snowing
hard, from the east,
and the sea
was in disorder.
Then some sanderlings,
five inches long
with beaks like wire,
snowflakes on their backs,
in a row
behind the ducks —
whose backs were also
covered with snow —
they were all but touching,
they were all but under
the roof of the duck’s tails,
so the wind, pretty much,
blew over them.
They stayed that way, motionless,
for maybe an hour,
then the sanderlings,
each a handful of feathers,
shifted, and were blown away
out over the water
which was still raging.
they came back
and again the ducks,
like a feathered hedge,
crouch there, and live.
If someone you didn’t know
told you this,
as I am telling you this,
would you believe it?
Belief isn’t always easy.
But this much I have learned —
if not enough else —
to live with my eyes open.
I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This wasn’t a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness —
as now and again
some rare person has suggested —
is a miracle.
As surely it is.
Picture found here.
One of Patriarchy’s favorite games (and the reasons for this are obvious) is “Let’s Pit the Women Against Each Other.” A classic of this genre is “Let’s Pit Women Who Work Outside the Home Against Women Who Work at Home.” Another classic is “Let’s Pit White Feminists Against All African American Women.” Still another version, and you can see it played out in comments whenever a Rubenesque woman posts a picture of herself on social media, is “Let’s Pit the Thin Women Against the Fat Women.” There are endless variations: “Let’s Pit Lesbians Against Straight Women,” “Let’s Pit Infertile Women Against Women Who’ve Had Abortions,” “Let’s Pit Women With College Degrees Against All the Other Women,” and “Let’s Pit Christian Women Against Women from Other Religions.” You can probably think of other examples and, please, post them in Comments.
When Hillary Clinton, a very serious contender, runs for the presidency of the United States, Patriarchy loves to play a special version of this game. This game is “Let’s Pit Second Wave Feminists from Hillary’s Generation Against Younger Women.” And I’m going to say, right up front, I’m a Sixty-Year-Old Second Wave Feminist and damn proud of it. If all they ever carve on my gravestone (the one that I don’t really want to have since I want my ashes scattered at Bull Run among the bluebells) is: “She Was Born a Feminist and She Died A Feminist,” that will be enough for me. But this post is addressed to my sister Second Wave Feminists and it’s an heartfelt plea for us to stop getting trapped by this Patriarchal game. Sadly, even those of us used to dealing with the media have allowed Patriarchy to use us in these games.
And, as I so often do, I see this through the lens of framing.
When Ms. Clinton ran the first time, Geraldine Ferraro, who ran as Walter Mondale’s Vice President and was considered, by many, to be the first realistic female candidate for Vice President, got caught up in Patriarchy’s game. Ms. Ferraro said that now-President Obama benefitted from being an African American man in his contest with Ms. Clinton. The media jumped and Ms. Clinton’s campaign suffered.
This time around, Patriarchy’s been playing the game just as effectively. Former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, who is pushing 80 and quivering when she holds a microphone, admonished younger women (who think that “it’s already been done”) that there’s a “special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” and this, as was intended, was played as old women v. young women. Feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, allowed Patriarchy’s beloved bad boy, Bill Maher, to trap her in this game. When Mr. Maher asked why Ms. Clinton isn’t doing better with young women, Steinem bought into his assumption and said that young women will get more radical as they age, because women lose power as they get older.
Of course, Patriarchy never asks why mature men don’t support Mr. Sanders, nor does Patriarchy put Mr. Sanders’ supporters on the spot, asking them to explain why they won’t support a woman.
Dear My (Older) Sisters: Please Stop Letting Them Do This To Us.
Look there is a simple answer to every question that attempts to pit Ms. Clinton’s supporters against other (often younger) women. Take notes because here it is:
“I support Ms. Clinton. Almost never has America had such an experienced, tested, and well-rounded candidate for president. If you want to see her perform under fire, go watch the eleven-hour grilling that she took from hostile Republicans, determined to destroy her candidacy, concerning Benghazi. Ms. Clinton brings exceptional credentials to the Oval Office, credentials that NO other candidate, Republican or Democrat, can match. I know many young women who are excited to see a woman finally, after more than two hundred years, make a serious run for the White House. And I know many women who, regardless of Ms. Clinton’s gender, believe Ms. Clinton to be the best, most experienced, most realistic candidate for the White House. And why is it, Questioner, that you need older women and younger women to engage in a dispute over this?”
Period. The end. Move on.
If we could (and I did) burn our bras, apply for jobs we never expected to get, stand up to clients that called us “lady lawyers,” and refuse to be called “Miss” or “Mrs.,” I think we can refuse to play Patriarchy’s games.
Picture found here.
I’m definitely going to take G/Son.
Rudyard Kipling was, as a creature of his time, a racist and a chauvinist. But, boy could he hit the ball all the way out of the park.
This is wonderful and I think you should read it.
“O body swayed to music, O brightening glance
How can we know the dancer from the dance?”
Miz Rosa Rides the Bus
That day in December I sat down
by Miss Muffet of Montgomery.
I was myriad-weary. Feets swole
from sewing seams on a filthy fabric;
tired-sore a pedalin’ the rusty Singer;
dingy cotton thread jammed in the eye.
All lifelong I’d slide through century-reams
loathsome with tears. Dreaming my own
It was not like they all say. Miss Liberty Muffet
jump at the sight of me.
They hauled me
away—a thousand kicking legs pinned down.
The rest of me I tell you—a cloud.
Beautiful trouble on the dead December
horizon. Come to sit in judgment.
How many miles as the Jim Crow flies?
Over oceans and some. I rumbled.
They couldn’t hold me down. Long.
My feets were tired. My eyes were
sore. My heart was raw from hemming
dirty edges of Miss L. Muffet’s garment.
I rode again.
A thousand bloody miles after the Crow flies
that day in December long remembered when I sat down
beside Miss Muffet of Montgomery.
I said—like the joke say—What’s in the bowl, Thief?
I said—That’s your curse.
I said—This my way.
She slipped her frock, disembarked,
settled in the suburbs, deaf, mute, lewd, and blind.
The bowl she left behind. The empty bowl mine.
The spoiled dress.
Jim Crow dies and ravens come with crumbs.
They say—Eat and be satisfied.
I fast and pray and ride.