A friend of mine sent me a lovely email today with some funny images on it. They were all titled “evolution” and were variations of that famous image of the Neanderthal that evolves from his ape-like state into an upright human being. One of the pictures depicted the process through a series of footprints. First it was a beast’s footprint, then a human footprint, then a man’s shoe-print and finally, a woman’s stiletto-print. It made me smile. Of course women are not more evolved than men (though sometimes…) but the day we make a serious effort to create equality, we will know we’ve come far as a human race!
Progress is a basic human right. Progress and evolution are completely inherent to all aspects of creation. Processes in nature, the mind, the spirit, society – all these things are constantly evolving. We go from learning our first words to writing theses, books, films, and business-plans. We go from inventing the wheel to skyping on our iphones. Our capacity is massive and most of us strive to fulfill at least a portion of this capacity on a personal level. And we can see and track our progress. I need only read some of my earlier blogs to do that.
But if evolution is such an inherent part of our experience then why do we selectively chose to ignore it? Why, for example, are so many people afraid of anything that is new and different to what they know? Why must different be bad? Why do we close our ears to other people’s beliefs? Why do we close our hearts to other people’s concerns and views? And most of all: Why do we limit our vision of what’s possible and say “that’s just the way it is”…What a naïve stance to take. We can’t do things the way we’ve always done them and expect different results. In order to move forward, we’re going to have to let go of some of our baggage and tradition and embrace what will benefit the human family.
So why not just try STILETTO heels and see where they take us?!
Ian Goldin: Navigating Our Global Future
As globalization and technological advances bring us hurtling towards a new integrated future, Ian Goldin warns that not all people may benefit equally. But, he says, if we can recognize this danger, we might yet realize the possibility of improved life for everyone.
There are days when I feel like I'm not being productive because showering, getting dressed, putting on my make-up, cooking something, emailing and doing a few phone calls is the most I can say I've achieved that day - if that. When my husband asks, "what did you do today?" I scramble to count the things I actually did. It's all very bad for my self-esteem! Now that I'm a mom, life is dictated by a little Napoleon in a onesie.
To make matters worse I was in the mall yesterday, hoping to tick at least a few things off my to do list, when I ran into a man who was verbally abusing his wife in the elevator. Granted, I didn't have all the facts, nor do I know for sure what the commotion was about. But nothing short of murder on her part, in my eyes, could have warranted such a display of abusive language.
The scene perturbed me and set off a whole series of angry thoughts that made me bark at the innocent teller in the bank. On my way back to the car, which was parked on the rooftop of the mall, I came across another fine specimen of the male gender. A smartly dressed young gentleman was standing next to my car, relieving himself. The audacity!
I got in the car and drove home. Traffic was thick, the sun was setting and I had achieved very little all day, except for sing songs of the gentle ant who helped a butterfly in distress to my son who was moaning in the child seat. If only the bus in front of me would go a little faster. It was a school bus. I could see four boys in the back of the bus, playing around. But at second glance, they weren't playing. One boy grabbed another by the back of his hair and violently shook his head. It looked like he was threatening the other boy, who, from his body language, was visibly intimidated. A bully obviously. How angry it made me, as I got to my street and turned left, leaving the bus to the thick of rush hour traffic – and the boy to God.
Who was raising these kids? Who had raised the young man who peed against my tire? Who had raised the man in the elevator who was yelling at his wife? And then it dawned on me. A mother. A mother who was doing nothing of value all day except showering and getting dressed – and perhaps raising a young child who would later become a man.
I know it takes mothers and fathers to raise children, but I can speak only for mothers. We are the primary educators of our children. We have a massive responsibility, one that is not to be taken lightly. And what is most baffling is that behind every abusive or dominating man is a mother who raised him. Sure, and a father, but it's us women who complain of abusive husbands and dominating men, so doesn't the change have to start with us? What are we doing wrong? Maybe we need to start by valuing and focusing on our job and praying each day that we may fulfil our duty to the very best of our ability. This is a tremendously weighty task.
Next time your husband asks what you did today, you say "I'm trying to raise a son who will later come home to his wife and ask her, 'What can I do to support you today, oh primary educator of the next generation?'"
I can't think of a subject that is more difficult for me to talk about than the equality of women and men. I've always felt that I needed to give my input on this very important subject, a subject that is sadly still, today, in the year 2008 after Christ, a very hot topic. Not only in those far away countries where women wear veils, but right here on our own doorstep.
Don't get me wrong - my challenge has not been my lack of interest or discernment to see the problem! It's been my inner freedom from the problem. I have never felt lesser than a man. I'm not saying I've never experience prejudice before. I have. I have felt prejudice in the work place and I have felt highly uncomfortable in situations where men have whistled or said derogatory things to me, I've felt angry at my husband for things he's said, but those have been "outer" feelings. Nothing within me has ever changed to make me actually believe I'm lesser than.
I remember when I wrote my masters thesis, the external examiner had put a big circle around one of my footnotes with a line that said, "acknowledge prejudice of author against women". It hit me like a knife. What was she talking about? Me? What had I written that made her think that? I checked the foot-note probably about 20 times, before I realized what the problem was. I had written "unity of mankind" ; and I had to change it to "humanity", which pleased the examiner, but not really me. I thought about it and realized that if you wanted to be really picky, you'd have to say 'huWOmanity'. It just hadn't mattered to me. It was just a word. In my mind I thought this poor lady must feel really compromised in her confidence if a word like "mankind" feels threatening to her.
I don't know. Am I not sensitive enough? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe she's right. I understand, that our language is saturated with derogatory terms towards women, and I understand that that is not okay. In German "herrlich" (man-ly) means wonderful and "daemlich" (woman-ly) means stupid. Yes it's ridiculous. But that doesn't change the fact that on the inside I've always been free from feeling threatened by these things.
So I took a good look at my history and my family. We were not perfect, no we were not. But there were several outstanding men in my family who actually contributed to women being free and confidant. One of them was my granny's father. Light years ahead of his time and cultural moment, he created an atmosphere in his home where women were able to soar and express themselves. They had freedom of thought and were able to discuss and make decisions about their own lives. They worked and had careers and some of them became entrepreneurs. This confidence has been passed down to me on a very deep and natural level. So men then, have a huge part to play in this struggle!
As I try to sensitize myself to the subject, I realize that one of the ways that I can play my part is to pass down the freedom I feel to my children and by simply living it out be a role model to women and men who might have a different understanding of the relationship between the two wings of the bird. Like the couple who come to our house from time to time. The husband and wife both work, but at the end of the day she has to cook, clean, take care of the kids and serve her husband. Every time they've come over, she gets on her knees and serves him a piece of cake or fills his plate before the kids and before herself. So now my husband, Ryan, cuts and serves the cake for them. He gives her the first piece, then the kids and finally the husband. You can tell, the couple find it funny and a bit uncomfortable, but at least they're being exposed to a different model.
Inspiration Beyond Borders
Layli Miller was only a law student when she took on one of the most famous cases in the recent history of women's rights. The case made headlines across the United States and beyond, changing US law forever. Layli could have easily chosen to use to use her talents and status to create personal comfort and wealth, but chose instead to dedicate her life to the equality of men and women. The Tahirih Justice Center is Layli's foundation where she takes on pro bono cases and changes the world one case at a time. Meet this incredible lawyer and her 18th century heroine, Tahirih...
Written, Produced, Directed & Edited by: Leyla Haidarian
Produced & Edited by: Ryan Haidarian
Executive Produced by: Naysan Naraqi
Music by Benny Cassette