Women and Men: Gendered Power

I had intended to stay away from hot topics this time because, honestly, I’m tired of dealing with the fallout.  People seem to lose their sense of decorum when the topic of discrimination is on the table.  So, in an attempt to short-circuit the attack that posts like this alway bring, readers should know that while I am wiling to entertain civil, respectful disagreement, I will simply delete anything that hits me the wrong way.  Since gendered power is the topic, I own mine and will use it as I see fit.

A Facebook chat reminded of the pre-Columbian attitude toward women among the Cherokee (my father was Cherokee/Choctaw).   When the Europeans came, they noted that the women kept apart from the rest of the tribe during menses. They concluded that even the “savages” recognized women were unclean then. However, that wasn’t the reason why. The Cherokee were matrilineal and actually respected women’s power to create life. “Women were embedded with menstruation and childbirth—times when women were thought to be most powerful. Because they had so much power, women were separated from the tribe or clan during menstruation and childbirth so as not to upset the powers that operated within the tribe (Perdue, p. 30).”

 Feminist psychologists maintained that women are oppressed because men recognized our power and felt threatened by it. In order to manage their fear, they found ways of taking our power. I think it might have been Kim Chernin in “Fat is a Feminist Issue” who suggested keeping us small and thin was one way of doing that.

 Freud, who was incredibly brilliant, got mired down in his love of his penis and wondered how women must feel when they realized they were shortchanged and didn’t have one. He reasoned he would feel incomplete and inferior, so thought women must envy men a penis.

One of his students, who later eclipsed his work, was Karen Horney. She said, yes, women have penis envy. (Paraphrasing here) but women didn’t want to grow one. It wasn’t the penis they (we) wanted, but the independence, power, and freedom that goes along with a penis in this culture.

She said that, in fact, men have womb envy.

When I covered the section on psychoanalysis and neoanalytic theories in History and Systems of Psychology, I would ask the students which theory might have more face validity….if you have a penis, you can write your name in the snow. If you have a womb, you can bring forth life.

My own opinion is that neither “envy” exists, at least not in commonly. There is no good supporting evidence for either, and with the exception of transsexuals, I think we’re pretty satisfied to be who we are.

I will go further and say that we do ourselves, women and men, a great disservice when put women and men in competition with each other. Men and women are far more similar than different. Focusing on differences and presumed advantages can only create problems. I despise the phrase “war between the sexes.” Why war? In the words of Edwin Starr, War! What is it good for! Absolutely nothin!

Insomnia

Most Parkies (people with Parkinson’s – also called PWPs) are familiar with insomnia.  It’s mild for some people, and for others (me!), insomnia is so chronic it becomes the “normal” state. Tonight has been tough. Because I have to waken my teenagers at six so they make it to school on time, at four am it made sense to simply stay up until they are out of the house.  (The readier may be thinking, “Hmmmm, so that’s why Tilting is back.”  The reader would be right.)

Tremor is probably the most well-known symptom of Parkinson’s, but there are many more. For me, it’s the least bothersome. Insomnia is one of the two I hate most. (Regarding the other one, I will only say I eat lots of raw fruits and veggies.)

The most disabling would be impaired cognition and then balance. It feels like I’ve lost a good 20 IQ points. I used to be a pretty sharp cookie. Now there are times when I wonder how I function without a nanny.  Ok, so I’m exaggerating a bit. Hyperbole is fun! As the disease progresses, the loss of balance becomes dangerous. For me, those things are still manageable.

But insomnia…I hate insomnia “with a purple passion.” After a certain point of sleep deprivation, I get “sleep sick.” It hits me like a stomach virus and can take a day or two in bed to recover. And it’s one of those ubquitous “vicious cycles.” You see, I know what will happen when I don’t sleep. So, the longer sleep eludes me, the more anxious I become. The more anxious I am, the longer it takes to finally sleep. The longer I go without sleep … ad nauseam (literally).

Over the years, I’ve developed certain habits to help me cope. Sometimes I’ll tidy the house or pay bills. Sometimes, I’ll watch TV. Most often, I log on to the computer. The internet can be a great boon to the sleepless, whether they’re in Seattle or Saint Louis.  There are usually a few other people I know who are awake. I have a small group on Facebook consisting of other people likely to be up in the early morning hours (named “The Insomnia Club”). Even if no one else is around, I can catch up on the news, or look for information of all kinds.

 

Oh, the computer tells me it’s just after five.  In a little while I’ll awaken the kids and have a chance to lie down. And, I’ll lay five to one odds that…I’ll still be awake when noon rolls around. At a certain point, I become too tired to sleep.

 

Grumble, groan, whine….snort.

The Life of Re: Re-inventing, Re-working, Re-thinking, Etc.

There are a number of blogs that manage to encourage and comfort, filled with posts that are characterized by insight and wisdom.  I’m lucky to have more than a couple of these writers as personal friends.  As a result, I’ve had an urge to dust off Tilting yet again and see what occurs. If the past has any predictive validity, I will produce two or three posts and then…nothing until the next time I get an itch to write.

Right now, I’m not sure what my focus will be.  I will probably reflect on everyday life as experienced by a middle-aged woman with Parkinson’s disease. Yup, me, Michael J, Fox, Janet Reno, Linda Ronstadt, and many many other people shake things up in our own special way.

Well, enough for now.  We shall see what happens.