Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fighting domestic violence in Australia

As the Australian women and the better Australian men proceed on a much-needed fight against violence in relationships, it may be valuable to share insight that can be gained from experience of women's movements in other parts of the world.

In few parts of the First World is this fight more necessary or more rightful than it is in Australia. Australia has been singled out by international human rights watchdog organizations as a place where violence against women is a serious problem. Australia is the butt of such jokes as, "American man turns to his wife and says, 'Pass the sugar, sugar.' Englishman turns to his wife and says, ' Pass the honey, honey.' Australian man turns to his wife and says, 'Pass the tea, bag.'" While posting on Australian Internet forums, I have consistently encountered attitudes supporting domestic violence up to and including murder of wives. And the news stories reported that the Australian men, even the football heroes, felt embarrassed about donning white ribbons in fight against domestic violence, when the actions of men who stand up to abuse in relationships should be seen in no way as embarrassing but instead as heroic.

As an American expatriate married to an Australian woman, I know for certain that Australian women are anything other than bags. Australian women have amazing qualities to recommend themselves as people and as marital partners, and it is indeed unappreciative people who, instead of reciprocating these qualities with affection and passion and caring, would instead reciprocate them with violence and abuse. The heart, the beauty, the warmth, the strength, the genuineness and the generosity that Australian women have, deserve better treatment than what is afforded to them by "traditional" Australian attitudes. And it is a matter of fairness, a matter of virtue, as well as a matter of international image that Australia moves away from such attitudes and "traditions."

So as Australian women embark on solving this hideous problem, I hope that they do not lose what they are in the process. I hope that they keep their amazing qualities while pushing for and attaining the good treatment that they deserve. And I also hope that they do not repeat the errors of the errors made by American feminists in 1990s.

American feminism made this critical error: Of equating equality with similitude. Attempting to be equal to men, they lost what they were as women, including many wonderful qualities that women possess naturally but men do not. And just as many American women came under abuse from American feminists for having or wanting to keep the beautiful qualities that set them apart from men, likewise many women in America (and many more in the world) have developed enough distaste for American feminism to aggressively reject it. This, to the point that we see many educated Indian women willingly choose the obedient-wife role, many educated American women aggressively challenging feminism, many Western European women say that American women are stupid, and many successful and educated women from Eastern Europe state that American feminists have no idea what being a woman is all about.

The Swedish women did not make the same error. Sweden has significantly higher representation of women in politics than does either America or Australia, and it also has laws that are designed to protect women from everything from violence to emotional abuse. The Swedish women decided rightly that it's not one or the other but both. It's not be feminine or be powerful; it's be feminine and be powerful. It's not brains or beauty, it's brains and beauty at the same time. It's not be themselves or be equal; it's be equal and be themselves. And then, with the social power they gained, it became possible for these women to make the feminine count meaningfully in the world.

The result being, they have better lives; they are both who they are and equal to men in power; and they can apply the power to manifest the good that they have in them.

It benefits one little - and it benefits the world less - if the price of one's success is losing one's best qualities. That results only in trading one prison for another, or creating another prison into which to put others. Success is cheap if one loses oneself in the process of getting it. And as many women in America and around the world become enough disenchanted with American feminist social role to move away from it, Australian women deserve to know enough not to repeat the American women's self-proclaimed leaders' mistakes.

To do that, it becomes necessary to renege on false dualistic thinking, which American feminists have sheepishly followed men to embrace. The male logic is by design dualistic and made for conquest. The feminine logic, at its best, is integrative. While traditionally patriarchial beliefs want to separate thinking from feeling, civilization from nature, spirit from physicality, and use one to conquer the other, the traditionally feminine beliefs know enough to combine the components. A flower is not roots or stalk or petals; it's all of these things working together. And a human being is not one or the other component; it's all of them working together. A spirit without body is dead; a mind without feeling is a computer; a civilization without nature cannot exist. But it's when those components exist together and work together, that is found life in all its richness and splendor, and all the magnificent outcomes are created and can coexist with one another.

To have this basic understanding - that life is not one component driving the other into extinction, but all components working in synergy - is the logic of life and its ongoing perpetuation, as well as a logic of genuine peace. And it is that logic to which women, as givers of life, are most naturally attuned. Which means that when they are disconnected from that basic nature, they become incomplete, inferior to their possibility, and in most cases thoroughly unhappy. In the world of perpetuation of life it's not one component of life or the other; it's all the components of life at the same time. It's not feminine vs. equal, beautiful vs. smart, or loving vs. powerful; it's feminine AND equal, smart AND beautiful, powerful AND loving. And then the power and the status one gains, can actually be a mechanism for making the qualities one has count in the world meaningfully, instead of destroying them in the process of trying to be equal by being similar and thus becoming a two-X-chromosome vehicle for manifestation of masculine values and ways.

The people who think in terms of conquest keep having to find new things to conquer, and approach the world consistently as though it were field of war. But the person who combines instead of divides the components of life, results in new and splendid creations and outcomes. To use the intelligence to synergize rather than separate, is to strive for and achieve not only myriad splendid creations, but also achieve actual peace and completeness. Which is a more path not only to ongoing creation and perpetuation of life, but also to sustainable existence and happiness.

It have been American women that have been most hurt by the errors of American feminism of 1990s. The feminist war against beauty, love, romance, feminine physicality and the life-giving role have robbed American women not only of the wonderful qualities that are natural to women that are not to men, but also of much of their chance at happiness. One of the saddest statements I'd heard came from a highly educated American woman who described her female body as "useless." As many of the women educated in such modes of thought become parents, they will begin to move away from such destructive conceptions and strive for genuine power as women, which also means allowing themselves to be many of the things that women can be and that men cannot.

Now, I've been hearing feminist college students say that their leaders had got it all wrong; that traditional women actually had more power than do American urban corporate women, because the traditional women were in charge of reproduction while the American urban women are totally under control of male-dominated business. Whether or not that is true, it can't be denied that many legitimate aspects and needs of women were short-changed by American feminists. And there is a growing consensus by both men and women that these were denied wrongly.

And I am far from the only person who believes that there is a better way.

I have no intention at all of discouraging Australian women from achieving in business, science, politics, or any other worldly pursuits. That is their human right and part of fulfilment of their potential as it relates in those aspects. But having lived in America from 1988 to 2006, I seek to counsel Australian women against believing that this empowerment is incompatible with empowerment in other aspects. It's possible to have meaningful professional life and meaningful love relationships; it's possible to have both power and femininity; it's possible to have professional life and a home life; it's possible to be smart and beautiful; it's possible to have both a mind and a body at once. And a valid direction by both men and women, would be to encourage that integrative type of thinking; to teach men to respect women for being capable of all the preceding; and to show clearly the superiority of what they have for far too long regarded to be inferior to themselves.

There is now in America a popular sticker that says, "The women who want to be equal to men lack ambition." I've always been under impression that the women who are capable of genuine womanhood are superior, not inferior, to men, and my experience in Australia has borne me out. Australian women deserve respect and love for what they are. And they have a chance of obtaining it without making the errors that the American feminists made.

Australian men need to see that women can do all the things that men can do, and then some. But what they really need to see is the accomplishment of what women can be. They do not need to see women trying to be men - a race in which they can only come second - while destroying the womanhood in themselves and aggressively stomping on it in the women around them. They need to see women who can be what women can be and men cannot; who can also achieve significant things at what men think only they are good at; and who are enough as such to inspire both their love and their respect.

And then they need to learn appreciation for what they have for so long taken for granted, brutalized, referred to as their "bags" or their "kitchen b*tches." and whose value it sometimes takes an external perspective to bring them to see.

International competition will always make losers of the men who mistreat women and of the women who mistreat men. And people who fail to appreciate what they have, fail to gain from it and are wrongfully unhappy. While men's groups blame Australian men's high suicide rates on Australian feminism, I for one do not sympathize at all. Australian men have it better than men anywhere else on the planet. With a big, open continent, a working economy, a democratic government, and some of the world's most amazing women, Australian men should be the happiest men anywhere on the planet. Unhappiness here comes not from any reality but from failure to appreciate what one has. The problem in this case is not corrected by further oppression of Australian women by Australian men, but from change of attitude to value instead of degrading what one has here.

It is entirely for the benefit of Australian men to learn to appreciate and be good to Australian women. It will improve their international standing, their reputation, and their experience of life. The Australian men who campaign for good treatment of women, do so both in the interest of Australian men and in Australia's national interest. Which means that they are true heroes of Australia.

As for Australian women, they are wonderful as they are. What they need is to make it apparent that they would no longer accept mistreatment. Putting themselves in a position of power through work, business and politics can and should part of the solution for many; but another and greater part of the solution is making the feminine appreciated, respected and valued in Australia. And in striving for this life-supporting, integrative, state of affairs, Australian women stand not only to achieve social empowerment, but do so while remaining the many wonderful things that they are - that men aren't - that American feminists have destroyed in themselves and those who believed them - and that the Australian women, by keeping these virtues alive while pushing for both legitimate social power and legitimate good treatment in marriage, would be able to use their power to make count in the world, while gaining both love and respect that they richly deserve.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Intrinsic Conflagration

Project the mind - it resonates with thunder;
Reject the mind - around you it burns.
Intrepid joy - impassioned restless wonder -
The heart-suffused and life-rich way to learn:

Intrinsic conflaggrations, not to pity
Or to respect, or even yet to see -
The nature's splendor reaching into city
To render its inhabitants half-free

Until joy drops, and out appears concept
And meaning - this, if only for some!
And from beneath the axioms, a rocket
Ballasts into the space, explodes and is gone

And then - another time, another meaning,
The meaning is constructed from all sides
And forms the structure that informs the seeming
Which then becomes the vision of mankind -

And then come other meanings and perceivings
Construed just like dynamic SQL...
The culture wisens, thickens as it's dreaming
And builds to levels more removed from hell.