FUTURE FOR LITTLE GIRLS
In the 1950’s when I started schooling, little girls were brought up to please, make babies, and look pretty. The only avenue for growth available to the female gender was a “good” academic education. But, it offered a dubious freedom. Rote learning had been left behind a decade earlier, but not the mentality behind it. Learning and information were stressed while understanding and sensitivity were enigmatically left to fate or to the imagination. Inbred feminine survival instinct kept women repressed and neurotic on the inside, while carefully molding an appearance of acceptable freedom.
In 1965 I received a degree from an Ivy League university and a year later another. Rather than grant me freedom, my intellectual development only augmented a sense of alienation. The aggressive climate of politics, racism, continuous sensory assault, the feminist liberation campaign and other movements both diffused and exacerbated complexities, focusing almost exclusively on behavioral display and surface relief of tensions. Oppression and violence, rampant military regimes, leftist revolutions, and hopeless death tolls in the name of human rights defined the panorama. It was the late 60’s and mid 70’s, but the same could be said of today under a different name, terrorism.
As an elite member of my gender, I could debate all I wanted but essentially had no choice but to measure myself and my possibilities on the same scale as men. Psychology, which I also studied, was as useless then as now, striving to attain the status of a verifiable material science while ignoring inner forces of consciousness. Nowhere was there any validation of the feminine spectrum of possibilities beyond those of serving the status quo. Awkwardly, I was asked to adapt to existing values and somehow believe that I was free. I would need to assume an intellectual stance while silently bearing with the turbulent mass of conflicting responses that brewed within me. Serenely, with sophistication, without stepping too hard on anyone’s toes.
Nothing much has changed today. The world then as now had no understanding of women and even less of the kind of in-depth contribution that we can make toward change. There was something beyond the label of emotions that lay within feelings and sensibilities that I couldn’t ignore. I couldn’t bypass the multiple perceptual spectrums that opened layers of understanding. I was a secret onto myself that I could not share with anyone, not even with women who persistently and desperately sought special treatment or anonymity, while clinging to the meagre privileges of accepted feminine superficiality. Only the most robust, aggressive, insensitive, target-oriented and unemotional succeeded. Over and over I confirmed that no matter how smart I was, I couldn’t be “normal”. At first I thought it was a personal inadequacy, then attributed it to my emotionally charged Latin temperament, and finally realized many years later that it had nothing to do with me but with a socially uncomfortable femininity that had no place in that world.
“Intelligent” women were not allowed to express feelings, speak about intuition, or shift position on quality and human ethics, except within a mental framework and established rules. To go outside the norm, inject emotional tone into an argument, or go beyond the distinctly polarized ideas of the time would call attention that I was unable to deal with or understand. The void I felt had to do with the absence of correspondence, reciprocity, and shared humane values.
Following the pied piper tune of the Beatles, I made a beeline to India and spirituality, the only venue open to me then. It would take twenty more years before I could put a label onto my ailment: being woman. I feared as much as I loved all that the woman in me called for.
Little girls who grow up into women are not “sugar and spice and everything nice”. At any age, we are dangerous to the status quo. We embody and touch sensibilities intensely. We see and distinguish truth from untruth. Rather than the comfort we have been programmed to ensure, we are a source of discomfort to superficiality and convenience. Ultimately, we may not be controlled by definitions that barely disguise male hedonism that perpetually programs, ignites and sustains sexism.
Girls learn to handle the same elements as boys do with perhaps the same results, but we do not employ elements in the same way, nor do we follow the same process. As a result of global educational standards, we are taught reason along the same lines as male models. Our intelligence is as incisive and conclusive, but our perception catches different nuances and follows other angles. The feminine process is qualitative. There are no external parameters to prove the kind of perception a woman is capable of having.
The female body is designed to offer a maximum of receptivity and response, full of cavities and round surfaces. Sensitivity, including orgasmic sensibility, extends over the entire body externally and internally through conduits that trigger multiple responses. What a woman feels and senses cannot be understood by the mind or experienced by men.
Built to detect and project emotions, inject quality and force into the environment, a woman lives in intensely acute receptivity and reciprocity. She is always at odds with her perceptions, no matter how intelligent or intellectually adapted. She must be helped to understand and master this. A woman knows. Given a chance, she knows that she knows, even beyond personal convenience. But there is a huge condition to this knowing: a woman must be free to follow her own way of perceiving and arriving at an evaluation. This means she must be respected for her difference, not merely tolerated, or conveniently imitated, placated, and patronized. This recognition must come from a place of sensitivity in men and also in those women who still cling to authoritarian male models. Beyond intuition, a woman’s sensibility is far more than flashes of emotional flavoring that bring in-sight. It is a holistic knowing that involves body, mind and emotion, beyond time and space, linking with non-verbal intelligence everywhere.
The human body, just like the mind, can be taught to do anything. Yet the underlying quality emitted by a female body produces a qualitatively distinct effect on the mind and emotions of surrounding life. It goes beyond the sexual arousal that has been exploited for millennia. Women endure tremendous intensities and gestate much more than babies. We are experts in intensities and should be trained to recognize and use this ability appropriately. We incorporate all the virtues of beauty, not just physically, but also morally.
In our era, tremendous mental control is demanded from both genders. The body is chiseled along with the mind. The image in fashion as in athletics, stresses sexual and aesthetic male parameters: muscles, narrow hips and small breasts, surface stimulation and quick reflex. The trend toward greater control of the natural form favors leanness, speed, agility and selective response. We can only surmise what happens to the subconscious of women who are curvy, have bellies and breasts. There is no need for further external controls when society already controls the female mind. The feeling of inadequacy deeply ingrained in a woman’s psyche is as strong today as ever.
If we look closely, we notice, curiously, that a remarkable gender alteration happening now. There is no polarity. Equality, meaning sameness, is revealing a sub-standard uniformity that promotes a progressive loss of depth and increase in artificiality. This severely hampers creativity.
Whereas emotional intelligence is easy for women, the mind is something else. It unravels through hidden circuitous synapses that hint at an answer that is never clear or precise. It is not categorical. Men say women are irrational creatures, demeaning a process they cannot understand. A woman is constantly judged. Too emotional, overly dramatic, over-sexed, manipulative, intellectually fuzzy, manly, aggressive, dominating… are only a few of the labels she has to deal with. When a little girl is taught that she must control her emotions without a qualitative understanding of the purpose they serve, society is limiting its own productivity. Women ARE “personal” and there can never be too much of “the personal touch” in life.
Equality should reflect “opportunity” rather than define a standard. Young women still go out into the world, academically equipped, and don’t have a clue how they function, plagued by contradictory emotions and sensations that only became more pronounced by contrast to their education. There is no social support system for sensibility. Parents are incapable of teaching what they do not understand. Our educational system continues to focus on linear perception and surface value, on time and space, and above all on utilitarian logistics. For most, spirituality seems to concern a world removed from reality – bizarre and impractical. Never before has the need for a woman to learn about herself, how she thinks, understands, and communicates been more necessary.
Rather than special privilege, freedom implies being able to be ordinary and yet different, genuine. Instead of demeaning and ridiculing them, little girls should be encouraged to reason as much as feel, developing sensitivity and discernment. In ancient times the female, beginning with little girls, was the treasure of the temple, priestess and oracle, mother and support of the family, of the world structure, and inspiration for the men. She should be no less today. We must make space for female intelligence and sensitivity. This has more to do with authentic spontaneity than with the kind of simulation and mental artifice that I was taught so many decades ago.
Unless humanity realizes that there is a difference in gender perception and sensibility, we will be unable to provide the future generation with the tools it needs to build a better world. This involves the kind of instruction we offer at home and in schools. In a better world, adults would recognize that parenthood begins by deep self-awareness. Education would involve not only distinguishing psychological and social styles of learning in order to build mental references, but should stress perception itself. It could well highlight the fine points, the subtleties in transmission and the process of enlightenment and awakening to insight and knowing, for both genders. This transcends the hazy concept we have of spirituality and would strengthen the foundation that only women are able to provide. A healthy, intelligent, caring and spiritual civilization is only as effective as its women.
I never wanted to define or be defined. I wanted to lead with my heart and soul in a civilization I hoped would be filled with equally sensitive leaders.I would have loved it if someone had helped me develop my difference. I would have welcomed the discovery of the Feminine Principle, exploring the ways it works through me. However, in the last few decades women have “progressed”. We are now permitted to think, work out, act like, and even join the military, building muscles with the men, all in the name of equality.Things have not changed as much as people believe. Too many women today feel like I did fifty years ago.
Little girls do not need pink atmospheres, no more than they need to focus on mental and physical gymnastics. They deserve a lot better.