“Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.” ~ Katherine Johnson
I watched the movie, “Women Talking” the other night. It was free on Amazon Prime. Directed by Sarah Polley, the movie is based on true events that happened at a remote Mennonite community in Bolivia. Even removing the religious aspect, what you get is a deep discussion of the inequalities between men and women that are promulgated by the patriarchal society.
- Only the boys are educated to read and write.
- Women are domestic servants – cooking, cleaning, raising children, sewing, canning, gardening
- Women are property – subject to abuse and rape.
In a community where animal tranquilizers are used to sedate the women over many years to allow rape, the women pass on the myths of ghosts or demons to either deny the reality of what is happening or keep them submissive with threats of abuse or excommunication. After several of the attackers are caught, the men go to town to raise bail. The women are ordered to forgive their attackers or be banned from their community. Over a two day time frame, they realize they have three choices: 1) stay and fight for a better life, 2) stay and do nothing while the abuse continues or 3) leave. The schoolteacher has been left in the community and the women call on him to write down their options along with pros and cons.
What led to the consideration about this blog post was a scene in which the women were discussing (and at times arguing amongst themselves) the pros and cons of one of their choices. The male schoolteacher, in an effort to get conversation moving forward, suggests they move on. Immediately, one of the women stands up and reminds him that he is not there to guide the discussion but simply to take notes and act as scribe. The discussion is about women, by women and he has no right to interject his thoughts unless asked. It’s quite the role reversal from what they are accustomed and it’s almost a heady power as she realizes she can turn the tables. Three things immediately came to mind with this scene:
**Years ago, my husband and I had purchased a small 2-bedroom home. It needed some simple upgrades, nothing fancy but it was our starter home. Two houses down from ours was a similar house with the same footprint. However, they had added a second story with dormers. I suggested that we could do the same with our house, increasing the square footage, adding bedrooms and with solar panels on the southern side decreasing our utility bill. My idea was immediately shot down with the structure of the house called into question as well as feasability of materials. Ooooookay.
**Not so many years ago, my husband and I were planning a garden. I suggested that we run the grey water from our washer to a layout with a soaker hose around the garden, This would allow for watering the garden with our used washwater, saving money on utilities. There could be a valve to choose between sending the water outward or down the drain for use in cold weather. Again, (different husband), but my idea was shot down as being “silly.”
**More recently, a friend and I were discussing a situation here in my home. It’s an uncomfortable situation, with no easy answer. I have spent much time in prayer looking for all the possibile ways the problem can be approached and hopefully solved. When I shared my decision after looking at all the angles, I was chastised that it was a bad decision on my part.
The patriarchal society continues to reign supreme. As a female, I was made to feel inferior or foolish or silly. Let me tell you in contrast what I realized.
**On a return trip home, I drove past that little starter house. At some point, a second story was added with solar panels along the south side of the roof. Huh . . . whodathunk it? Surely not some inferior dadgummed female. Impossible!! The house had been sold years ago, yet there was MY idea which had gone unmentioned to the buyers but yet stood in obvious testament to the feasability of my vision.
**I recently read an article in a highly successful magazine about a gentleman who built a sustainable small home. He ran a drain line from his washer to his garden area, allowing his grey water to be utilized as an irrigation system via soaker hose in an area that suffered from drought frequently. Wow! Would you look at that? Foolish when imagined by a woman; lauded when accomplished by a man.
**Frustrating to say the least, it is easy to armchair quarterback a situation in which you are not intimately involved in the day-to-day basis while the one in the middle of it is raked over the coals for coming to a conclusion with which the other party did not agree. How fantastically unsupportive one can be, not to mention overstepping one’s boundaries and assuming leadership in a situation where none exists.
As Ms. Johnson’s quote above suggests — sometimes women have a clearer vision of what is possible. Friends, spouses, or confidante’s may not see the vision as clearly but neither should they discount it. Difference is what makes us compatible or complementary. The rest is just stupidity.