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A woman on the Edge
There have many elements of gender inequality discussed throughout the semester. One point that I found interesting was, the ideal that the reproductive ability of women created a power imbalance so strong that the society of the future has to come up with a way to remove this imbalance by industuralinzing in a sense reproduction. (Kimmer & Merssner, 1998) I have mixed feelings about this, because on the one hand I feel that men desires to conquer women does derive form anger fear over our reproductive ability and without that the root source of so much violence against women would be gone, on the other hand a women’s birth is natural, sacred, and significant role that deserves respect instead of cooption. Another thing along those lines is for many women who choose not to have children or cannot; the course has redefined what it means to women. In other words we are not locked into out biology. The course brought out the concept of motherhood and parenthood so that includes men and women, and people who don’t biologically have children. Sometimes when respect is afforded to the women in society who have given birth to children, it is not afford to those women who haven’t. (Richardson, 1997) Also we have seen and discussed whom women have been thought of as objects that can reproduce. We have seen how society has allowed it possible to do all sorts of inhumane things to them. These elements of gender in equality are addressed in the book Woman on the Edge of Time.
In the society of Mattapoisett, Luciente’s place of habitation, people live very simply in what we would consider a sustainable manner. Every element of their lifestyle is crafted with care. From the moment a child is brought into being to the moment of death, community practices and ritual cover all and yet, there is also a great deal of
room for independence and the exercise of free spirit. Nothing is predetermined.
Initially, we are led to believe that Mattapoisett is a typical type of community of the future. It is about the size of a village, Connie is told that big cities were deemed unworkable. It is bucolic; vegetables are grown and cow graze. Our first view
even provides clothes drying in the sun. In many ways it reminds Connie of the Mexican villages of her childhood. For the most part, the use of fossil fuels is a thing of the past. Solar energy is primarily used. Each community tries to be “owned,” i.e., self-sustaining. Each adult has a space of per own. The pronouns his and her are no longer used — per, for person, is the correct term. Language, as we might expect, has evolved. Some of it, such as the word, “future,” no doubt has its derivation from the expression “for sure” popular in the ’70s. Fellow community dwellers are referred to as memos. Even cats and other animals are conversational; persons communicate with them by sign language. People live in close contact with their environment.
By this time, reproduction of the human species is carefully controlled and a child is born only when someone in the community dies. People are not encouraged to live expanded numbers of years and most don’t. While Connie is around, we experience the death of two people, one old respected woman who has reached the end of her days, and one young beloved man who is killed in defense of his community. The survivors mourn their loved ones and cherish their memories, but are also joyful to welcome new members into the community. There is a diverse mix of racial types, rather than a blending into uniformity. There are still blacks and whites, not merely light brown people. The parenting arrangement is not of our convention. Three mothers are chosen from men and women who have volunteered to mother. There is no mention of fathers. All mothers breast-feed and bond very closely with the child. Reproduction and parenting, as we know it, is obsolete. Since mothering is a matter of choice, all mothers are eager and joyful in their task. This doesn’t mean that children are perfectly behaved and are like little obedient robots. To the contrary, it seems that children are often headstrong and eager to fly from their comfortable nests long before a child of our time would. There is a feeling that children belong to the community, not to the mothers. Following a week on their own in the wild, their official independence ritual that takes place when they are about 12, children often do not stay or settle in the communities of their raising, but move around. Youth is a time for freedom and experimentation, settling down comes in later years.
The women’s movement developed from raised consciousness in the 1970’s, a groundswell of changing political consciousness, and organizing activity by women. Women began to assert their rights to control their lives and bodies. Practical applications included hotlines and crisis centers providing a context for women to speak out. Shelters and houses of refuge formed networks, and state and local meetings provided settings in which women came together and created the battered women’s movement. As women defined and addressed their problems (low wages, dead-end jobs, limited opportunities, inequality, social injustice, discrimination, and violence) as political issues, they were inspired to act. The private and social spheres were no longer separable. The women’s movement created and atmosphere where women could finally speak about, their right of choice, battering and rape. In such an environment — free from intimidation by their abusers — battered women could speak openly and soon discovered the commonality of their experience. Their bond lay in their sense of isolation and need for safety. The division of labor in our society has historically allocated domestic duties to women. Women have been responsible for providing a happy family life, being caretakers, and the nurturers of their children. Woman’s self-esteem has often been dependent on her ability to be a “good” wife, parent, and homemaker. In the lecture given by the guest lecturer on the “Women’s Place,” When women are battered, they often internalize the blame, feeling that thy failed in their primary role. In this case women assume their failure rather than unequal power dynamics is the cause of battering. While the role of power and privilege that men have been given in our society is not explicit approval for battering, it does not conflict with the stereotypical characteristics of dominant behavior.
If women wish to ensure that movements, of which they are a part, should safeguard their fundamental and long-term interests, they should align themselves only with such of them, which have an ideological approach in harmony with the establishment of an equalitarian society. This is my thought on a solution. It is only by participating, in an articulate and vigilant manner, in such broader socio-political movements linked with other oppressed groups in their society that women can achieve long-lasting and basic changes in their position. As women do not form an independent class, they cannot form by themselves a movement, which will consistently fight for changes in the position of women. I feel that any change in women’s position so far has come about as a result of broad-based movements in society and the participation of women in them. This is what needed to make a change for women.
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