At the close of class today, I will join the ranks as a conversation leader and join all of you as we seek to bring no less than cultural transformation. My first gig as a conversation leader was with a group of women, mostly young mothers, striving to balance their professional lives with mothering. I used conversation, questions, slides to make my presentation. The discussion was lively. The group seemed to be particularly inspired by the words that “care and caregiving are invisible” in our culture.
A doula in the group (doing primarily post partum care) told us that a common issue among mothers is that the work of running a household has been so successfully undervalued that when they spend time caring, cleaning, organizing, planning, or shopping for the household they feel that they are being unproductive. As if this work will be done by magic, and is truly invisible labor. She has to remind them that this work has value; caring for the home and children is a necessary work. Whether it is done by someone else or themselves, they need to make time for it, and/or set funds aside for it. It is real work and requires attention. Their intellectual mind tells them differently, but their hearts have picked up the message that the work of care and caregiving is not work.
My interest is in women’s empowerment, so I believe that my groups will probably be similar to this group, though I also would like to work with young women, teens and twenties. My intent is to plant seeds, and start or continue the conversation. I feel that to awaken ourselves (despite all the hard-won success of the women’s movement) to women’s still subordinate role within a dominator system will empower women to seek change first for themselves and then in ever-widening circles of influence. I think it is essential to first be awakened to the “pot” we are still stewing in, then find the words to describe our experience to ourselves, eventually turning that uncomfortable “heat” into power. When Betty Friedan spoke about “the problem that has no name,” the unhappiness of women in the 1950’s, she could be speaking about women (and men) today. We have a problem that is hard to do anything about until we name it: the continued subordination of women within a dominator system and its consequences which are making both men and women stressed, overworked, and unhappy. And as important, it is overstressing our planet.
I have a facebook page called Feminine is Rising, (https://www.facebook.com/feminineisrising/) where I post articles about women’s issues, and other. I also have become involved in the refugee crisis, mostly through an organization called Carry the Future. I have been collecting articles on another facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RisingWatersRefugee/) to gather information daily on what is happening, hopefully eventually to contribute in the efforts to draw attention to the growing crisis, and to remind myself that our work of cultural transformation is desperately needed now. And to be reminded daily that it is a groundswell of unpaid volunteers who are doing most of the work of caring for the refugees. This revolution of care from an army of volunteers gives me hope that their work, and our work, and other work like this, is evidence that we are gathering and preparing for the "Great Turning."