On Wednesday, March 8th we’ll celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s been around since 1913, but seems to have taken on new relevance during the last few months. Many who previously have been complacent are no longer sitting back.
Women proudly and courageously are stepping forward to take the lead in sending out a message loud and clear about what we want our world to be. Anyone who watches television, reads the newspapers, spends time on Facebook, in the blogosphere and all of the other social media sites realize what is happening. Women are calling for, demanding, a world without bigotry, bullying, intimidation, excessive greed, and, most of all, one in which blatant lying and ignorance is recognized when it appears center stage decked out in all its ugly rhetoric.
In February, I was in Wickford for an exhibit of Pop Up Art from the Women’s Marches that have been taking place all over this country. Included in the exhibit were sculptures, posters, prints, banners and photographs expressing many of the thoughts on all of our minds during this time of upheaval.
As I walked around the room, studying each piece, I began to formulate my own personal message – message I’d like to share in order to open up a discussion. It centers around what is at the bottom of much of the selfishness, the callousness, the cruelty that has been unleashed since the malignant narcissist has taken office. It concerns the hateful acts perpetrated on vulnerable people during the last few months since the new administration has taken charge. It’s about a pernicious malignancy that has lain deep inside our own culture for as long as I can remember.
My message concerns boys and their toys. You see, I believe the real danger here in the USA is not from immigrants, refuges, or foreigners. The real danger to this country comes from within. It comes from our own home-grown terrorists. It comes from the angry, young boys with weapons who grow into those angry men with weapons placed easily at their disposal.
I’m referring to the countless guns and weapons used for play and used to kill innocent children; to murder people at prayer, kids in school, workers in public buildings, people in movie theaters and nightclubs. I’m talking about the toys and pass times such as the violent, misogynistic video games; the flashy pimped-out vehicles, the roaring “look-at-me I’m a big man” motorcycles, the beat-up, exhaust-belching trucks used to intimidate with their road rage.
And I’m throwing in, for good measure, the corporate jets that carry grown boys on their international quest to build, to destruct, to make the connections that help them accumulate the wealth they suck into the vacuum that is their ever-growing piggy banks. In doing so, they’ve left the middle class depleted and have created a growing class of economically disadvantaged families steeped in a dark poverty that falsely promises everyone a 1% American Dream regular citizens never will attain.
What is this country doing so wrong that results in the unleashing of these angry, selfish young men with their toys and their lack of empathy; their disdain, their hatred? We, as a people, need to spend more time trying to solve this growing problem rather than simply believing that keeping foreigners out will make America safe again. Keeping foreigners out will only keep them safe from the home-grown terrorists we are creating within our own borders.
I feel women must be the ones to help craft a solution. Mothers, sisters, girlfriends, cousins, daughters, wives. We could begin by not allowing ourselves to become accomplices in all of the detritus surrounding each act of unkindness. And our message must be direct and clearly articulated:
We are not your toys. We are not your Barbie dolls – the accessories you dress up to wear on your arms to complement your Italian designer suits. We are not little puppets mouthing your limited thoughts, your self-absorbed ideas, your ridiculous rhetoric. Not your marionettes. You cannot pull strings to make us dance to your dissonant tunes. They are not our songs – not our notes, not our music.
We are not your trinkets – to be used, abused, grabbed, groped, intimidated, fondled, insulted, broken and humiliated – to be cast off for the shinier, newer baubles you covet.
And finally, we are not your cohorts who will stand by in silence while you hurt others.
We expect our boys and men to do the right thing. Tell the truth. Make the right choices. Use strength to protect the vulnerable. Practice acts of kindness. Acts of sacrifice. Acts of heroism. These are the outward signs of compassion and strength. These are the behaviors that will make us proud to stand with them.
If the women who surround our mis-guided leaders would embrace these ideas and express them to their men, together we could make sure this world does not end up being a segregated playground, an exclusive tree house. “Girls not allowed.” “Women not welcomed”.
Those signs are being torn down everywhere as I write this. They are being torn down by the women and the men who encourage, respect and support them – the fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, nephews and friends who are not threatened by the thought of a gender-equal society. They are the men who do not espouse the ideals of the New American Dream: “He with the most toys reigns supreme”.
They are real men who do not need superficial toys and games to create a facade of potency. They are the dignified adults setting positive examples to counter the childishness we are all now being subject to daily by the buffoon in charge and his giggling little buddies.
New signs are being raised up every day to take the place of those old, misogynistic messages too long hanging out there.
Our leaders have let us down. They’ve taken us to the bottom of an abyss and many regular citizens are finally realizing it’s up to us to do something to create that better world where our children can find sanctuary from fear and want, since it is now blatantly evident those leaders have no intention of placing this as a priority on their self-absorbed agendas.
On January 21st when women of every color and creed marched together, all over the world, please understand – they knew full-well the importance of what they were marching for – a world that truly is great and safe for all human beings.
United, they were telling their daughters they no longer have to sacrifice their principles; they don’t need to live to please. They do not have to drape themselves over the arm or to clutch at the coat tails of any man to be financially secure or to attain their goals. They were telling their daughters that they could be anything they strove and worked hard to become.
Even more importantly, these women were sending a personal message loud and clear to their sons:
We expect so much more of you than we see in the orange-faced buffoon who masquerades as a man, but is really just a spoiled, little boy who lies, bullies, throws tantrums and doesn’t want to share his toys.
We have a responsibility to bring our children up to respect and care for other people. We need to start a discussion on the serious problem within our own society that gives rise to the donalds. We need to understand what it is in our culture that spews forth the Dylan Klebolds, the Eric Harris’s, the Adam Lanzas, the Timothy Mcveighs, the Dylan Roofs – middle-class, white males born and educated right here in this country. Angry, young men outfitted with high-powered guns and home-made bombs.
Pretending that the danger lies within the immigrant population is ludicrous. Those children do not come into this nation eager to kill. Their parents do not espouse terrorist views. Those boys are radicalized right here in this country.
“We have met the enemy and it is us.” (Walt Kelly, 1970 in Pogo).
So, what are we going to do about it? Wednesday, March 8th, is our day. But 2017 is our year. And if we get this right, if we persist, it could be a year everyone remembers for the good it did in making this country better, stronger and kinder. Perhaps, even an Equal Rights Amendment could be on the horizon? Now, there’s an idea – Equal Rights! Gender Equality!
Wishing you all a peaceful week.