I am Woman, Hear me Rest

Women Studies wasn’t a subject “of study” back in my day, at least not at my parochial high school or Jesuit college. Or maybe it was, and I never noticed. At the time, I pooh-poohed all things feminine.

I prided myself on my more masculine qualities. I wasn’t moody. I didn’t have cramps. I relied on rationality. I kept a few close women friends, but preferred the company of men, and their attention–not only for my looks, but for my strength.

Approaching 50, I’ve let all that fall away. (Mother Nature helps.) I have a growing appreciation for my stormy passion and my tidal shifts. I am developing a relationship with my belly. I wear skirts.

It was in my early thirties, as a new mother, when I began to recognize the power of “not” doing; and out of that precious surrender came the need for the company of women.

As a mother of two sons, my world continues to be defined by men, making it crucial that I carve out the feminine. I started out with baths and moods.  I added in cooking and dance. I became a gardener and a singer. An artist and a dreamer.

I softened into those aspects that I had long denied, ignored or refused.

This past month, I took my softer self out into the world for a spin at the United Nations for the 56th Annual Commission on the Status of Women. I sat in the same room with Madame Bachelet, the Director of the newly formed: UN Women. I stood beside women leaders and activists, as well as ordinary, every-day women like myself–from all around the globe.

In the twenty plus years since I left college, I have “become” nothing. Nothing that I could put on a business card or as a blurb in my alumni magazine. But I was there. I was among. And I felt at home. (Women are like that with each other.)

Today, I am on my couch, with a sore throat and a fever. There was a time when even this couldn’t stop me. I would have pushed through and had that party, gone to the prom, showed up for the conference. But today, I surrender. Even without data. (I refuse to take my temperature as an act of self-referral.)

Instead, I read and write and listen. I watch You Tube clips from the 2012 Women in the World conference in New York City. I am inspired. I am ready.

But first, I will rest.

Kelly Salasin, Spring 2012

Father Who Used FB to Teach His Daughter A Lesson: A Human Rights Issue

I don’t know if you’ve been following the latest viral feed on Facebook… the one about the dad who shot his daughter’s computer?  I can’t get my mind out of it.

When my husband first described the video to me, I put up my hand. “That’s not funny at all,” I said, “That’s criminal,” and I dismissed it–Until it kept appearing in my FB feed, with updates like “Way to go Dad” and “My hero” and “You rock”–even among my personal friends and family.

I was shocked and appalled that others thought humiliation was an avenue for teaching respect; and in response, I began writing, and writing, and writing.

Men were my most vocal critics, questioning where I got off being so righteous and judgmental about a family I didn’t know.  Curiously, I’d never heard much from men on my parenting blog until now. Approaching 50, I told that them I had earned the right to be righteous–as a mother and as a lifelong educator/advocate for children.

After venting and ranting and illuminating (I hope), I shifted my writing toward compassion with my third post, offering a “How To” on dealing with teens & chores–without a gun. I felt satisfied and complete; until I read today’s paper.

In a seemingly innocent column entitled, A Valentine Without Chocolate, I was enraged all over again; with this ubiquitous thread:

Years ago, when I worked at a battered women’s shelter, Valentine’s Day was observed with a good deal of skepticism. Coming shortly after Superbowl Sunday — a day when shelters around the country brought in extra workers to handle the brutal aftermath of fan disappointment — Valentine’s Day seemed made for the batterer.

The women, who had come to the shelter out of desperation, who had shared their stories with other football refugees, who were beginning to see that another life was possible, were at just that point in their recovery where they had healed enough to forget the pain of two weeks ago. And then came this revelry in romance, the ubiquitous rose and red satin and chocolates everywhere. Even with a restraining order, it was hard to resist the seduction of Valentine’s Day.

(Professor Meg Mott of Marlboro College in the Brattleboro Reformer, February 14, 2012)

This 15 year-old, obnoxious daughter bashed her father to her friends on Facebook just after he loaded her computer with extra memory. Thus he had the right to use his pistol to teach her a lesson. Millions of parents celebrated his courage in a stand in demanding greater respect from spoiled teens.

Does this frighten anyone else?

If you’ve been following my posts on Two Owls recently, then you know I’ve suffered from the rage of my own father.  No doubt this makes me extra tender to the fact that a father took a gun and unloaded 9 bullets into his daughter’s laptop; while millions of people applauded.

Although I am much older than this girl, and my father is well into his golden years, the emotional intimidation of my youth still burns inside me.

I tried to explain this to my brother-in-law when he stopped by with my 13-year-old niece. Though he hadn’t watched the video either, he heard a clip about it on the radio.

“I don’t see it as intimidation,” he said, lightheartedly. “Her father wasn’t pointing the gun at her. It’s the same as a parent yanking the phone out of the wall a generation ago.”

“Ripping out the phone is still intimidation,” I say. “A father is bigger than his daughter. Stronger.  He is in control of her privileges, the money she needs, everything that is important to her.”

“Hmm…” he said, looking dubious as he opened the door to his car.

“Look at it this way,” I said, “How would you feel if your daughter married a man who used a gun to teach her about respect?”

My brother-in-law gulped, smiled slyly, and said, “I get it.”

But it was another father who really got it:

“If this had been Afghanistan,” he commented, “It wouldn’t have been her laptop. It would have been her.”

Kelly Salasin, Valentines Day 2012

I am honored to be among the attendees of the 56th Commission on the Status of Women later this month. Given that this Facebook incident has gained international attention, I look forward to hearing views from women around the world.

Other posts on the father who used Facebook to teach his daughter a lesson:

Part I: Rebuttal to Dad Who Used Facebook to “Teach His Daughter a Lesson”

Part II: Would Father Have Used Facebook and a Gun to Teach his SON a Lesson?

Part III: Dear Mr. Jordan & Other Parents Frustrated with Teens & Chores

Part V. Parenting Without Power (or a gun)