Quality of Life

Some people like to say, "Eat well, do good, get exercise, and die anyway," as some sort of excuse for partying, being unhealthy and/or being inconsiderate. This logic has no place in a happy, fulfilling and successful life. Regardless of when you die, you want the life you live today, and tomorrow to be the best life you can possibly have. There is no excuse for not doing the best for yourself and the best you can for those you love. Even if I were going to die in six months, I still would continue my diet exactly as I do (if not do even better) because I want the highest quality for my life. The quantity is quite irrelevant.

~Raederle Phoenix Jacot

"Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?" ~ M. C. Escher

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Women's Rights

I was looking at this beautiful artwork by Kris Manvell, which you can view by clicking here, and I read the description, which goes like this:

This picture expresses two subjects that are very close to my heart: Gaia (mother earth), and all things feminine (what some might call, the goddess).

We are all part of this earth, every human being, be they male or female, black or white, Turkish or British, we are all equally important.

Since the days of Emperor Constantine, on through the Inquisition, women have been brutally murdered, tortured and relegated to second class citizens because men want to rule. Conservative estimates say 20 million were killed. Their crime? Literalist Christianity labeled them witches.

In reality they were Gnostic (Shamanic) leaders: herbalists, healers, empaths, midwifes and teachers. They understood and worked with nature. These wise people were all but wiped out. They were removed from history, so all that remains is some superstitious footnote in our history books, labeling them pagans (a Roman insult).

Women were even written out of the bible, relegated to the role of prostitute or virgin. The great libraries, such as Alexandria, were burnt, partly to remove all evidence of the female role in our ancient history.

Originally, before Christian literalism took hold, women were held in high esteem and with profound respect. Men understood that they held the key to an area of understanding that had to be taught to them - by women. This part of our history is not generally known about, or even acknowledged, so I wanted to help bring this topic to light – especially as – in these dark times, women’s rights (such as they are), are being further eroded. I wanted also to express my fear for the health of our planet, our mother earth. Turkey’s greatest assets, its natural beauty, its women and agriculture are under threat.

A dear Turkish female friend of mine said to me, why did you paint a woman? I have no interest in looking at a naked lady; she said she would rather look at an olive tree. I said, but all things on the earth are part of this amazing creation, everything. We look at a tree in its natural state, naked, so why not a woman? We look unashamed at a beautiful flower, a magnificent view or sunset. There is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to fear. Men’s crude urges can be managed, why should women’s freedom be threatened because they choose not to?

There was no sexual motivation in this picture, this is merely my attempt to celebrate women and to show that the feminine side is equally, if not more important, than the male side of life. Mother earth sustains us, as do our mothers, so let us celebrate this fact. If a creator was afraid for us to see our natural state, surely we wouldn’t be born naked?

~ Kris Manvell

I had some thoughts of my own after reading this:

My comment: Women's rights concern me a little differently than most people. I actually feel that today's modern woman is one of the biggest threats to femininity that there is. The "working" woman, the "athlete" woman, the "strong" woman, the woman who always wears pants and never a dress, or the woman who is afraid to be naked, or the woman who doesn't ever want to "depend" on a man, etc, etc, etc... All of that was a great whip lash back against men. It was great to have the right to work, but now, women are shunning other women who want to be house wives, who want to sew, wear dresses, and cater to their men.

Kris Manvell's response: I feel the same. What you are saying is women who want to be like men. I love strong women – women like you – but to me that is the embodiment of the feminine. What is missing is empathy and compassion. I desire that women can be themselves – not ape some masculine idea of what humans should be like.

My comment: I love to clean, sew, craft, draw, write, paint, read, make meals, keep house, nurture, massage and create a romantic atmosphere. Feeling feminine and beautiful is very important to me.

Kris Manvell's response: I can see that It sounds lovely. Your partner is a very lucky guy:)

My comment: I have no desire to be "equal" to a man by being a "like" a man. Women are just as valuable by being women.

Kris Manvell's response: Maybe more so.

My comment: There is nothing "less than" about mothering, home schooling, being creative and crafty. These are valuable -- extremely valuable -- and our society is lacking in them because people are no negative when you do these things.

Kris Manvell's response: Totally. In my relationship we have a similar dynamic – but I share many of the (perceived) womanly roles. I do most of the cooking – I am the nester – the one who makes things nice (aesthetically speaking). I tend to tidy... We both clean the house – I tend to wash up, etc. But Ekin is breast-feeding and generally with Kaia, our son. I am the one that supports us financially – but I am doing as much as I can to help Ekin set up her own crafts business with her sister. We find a way to share. I work at home – so it is a juggling act. I want to be with Kaia – so my work probably suffers a little, but then I don’t actually believe in work – and what is important to me is sharing our lives together... I want to home school him – as I did my other two sons and nephews... Being creative is essential. And extremely valuable.

My comment: I've had so many people tell me that I'm "lazy" because I refuse to work a day job.

Kris Manvell's response: Be a wage slave... Why be that??? I refuse to be.

My comment: My husband can testify to the fact that I'm far, far, far from lazy.

Kris Manvell's response: To me it is not even an issue.

My comment: I love putting hours into creating the perfect meals, a clean and beautiful home, into gardening, into exercising and improving my body, reading and educating myself... I don't believe it degrades me in any way to clean up after my husband. If both people in a couple work a day job, then they should split the choirs. If one person does the majority of the money-earning, then the other person can compensate by preparing all the meals and doing all the cleaning. There isn't anything wrong with that. In fact, I'm perfectly supportive of house husbands!

Kris Manvell's response: Me too. I have this wonderful vision of the Bronte sisters... I mean that in the nicest possible way. When I first met my partner – the most important thing was for her to be free and for us to live – not work to live.

My comment: My point is, people should be able to fill the role they feel they are meant to fill. Anyone who strives to improve the world and educate themselves should be appreciated for who they are, and not degraded for what they're not.

Kris Manvell's response: Totally. You paint a wonderful picture. When I talk of women’s rights I have to be careful how I speak of course, being a man. But I am so glad you have said all this on this posting – it balances it beautifully.

My comment: Thank you for being part of the solution Kris. You rule. :D

Kris Manvell's response: You too. Love, Kris

My further letter in response:

I think it's nifty how you said you don't believe in work. Come to think of it, neither do I. In a natural world, there is no work. There is gathering wonderful food under the sun, nourishing the body and the mind and the Earth all at once. When you combine that with the company of someone you love, there is no work involved at all, it's a winning situation for everyone and everything involved.

As you gather fruits and eat them, you spread their seeds which allows the plant to grow in many new places. As the juice dribbles off your chin into the soil it nourishes the the plants which in turn nourish all of the animals. As you chew and swallow the fruit it nourishes and energizes the body. And as a bonus, any healthy natural human being eating a fruit is enjoyable to look at. I know I like watching my husband bite into a beautiful fresh plum. (This comes to mind because he ate a plum this morning on our walk together.)

I also like how you said the most important thing is being "free to live" not working to live. That's an excellent way of putting it. A friend of mine, Andrew, likes to say that it makes no sense to trade five days of slave labor for two days of "freedom." He points out that you have better odds in a casino than five to two.

I understand it's tricky to try and say similar things as a man. I often want to say things about "white people" versus "black people" because I grew up in a ghetto area and have been in three serious relationships with black men who considered themselves to have a certain level of "black culture." This life-long exposure has brought to the surface many realizations for me, but most of them I can not speak about because it is offensive coming from a white person, even though many black people have the same observations and thoughts. It's a tricky balance.


~ Raederle

Photo taken February 5th 2011 on the Iron Horse Trail, Walnut Creek, California
Raederle Phoenix, photographed by her husband
Note: I was walking backwards at the time, believe it or not...

We all have the freedom of choice. Any faith is acceptable, as long as it is not disruptive or disrepectful of other faiths. Any orientation is okay. Any race, gender, geographical location: it's all fine with me. If you're a husband who lives off the money your woman makes, and you have a healthy happy relationship where you both are satisfied, then it's not my place to say it's wrong. I think any arrangement where two people love each other, live together, and are happy with their lives is a beautiful arrangement. More than two people? Sounds fine to me as well.


Anonymous said...

Oh thank God, someone who feels the same way I do!

I have no problem with those women who want to be the typical feminist and do everything the men do, etc. What I do have a problem with is the fact that most of them think that if you're anything less than that, then you're not a woman. I'm sorry I'm petite and can't do some of the stuff men can do. I like being a woman and letting men do some things. I like wearing frilly dresses and I don't mind the idea of being a stay-at-home mom if I get married and can afford to. But for some reason, we're made to feel less like women for being okay and wanting that.

It also erodes common courtesy. Someone holding the door open for you is not an insult. It's a polite gesture. Say thank you and move on! Don't flip out and give people more of a reason to be rude and selfish than they already are. Holy moley!

I mean, it's great if you want to work and and be out there in those competitive markets. More power to you. But it's equally as great if you have the means to be able to stay at home and do what you want to do (whether it's raising kids or just being a housewife if you don't have kids.) You do freelance work too, right Rae? There's nothing wrong with working from home either. Some of us are not fortunate enough to be able to stay at home doing what you want. I have to work, there's no way around it right now. But that doesn't mean I need to look down on those that don't.

It is the crazy people in the feminist movement that have done this to us. Unfortunately, the crazies are the ones that get the movement heard in the beginning; they just also continue to be the loudest after it has already done it's job.

I have no problem with the opposite being true either. I don't think you're less of a man if you want to be a stay-at-home dad. So long as things are still getting done, I'm fine with it. If all you do is sit and watch TV while I work and clean, then we have a problem. And I'd have the same problem with the woman if she did the same.

I have this discussion with Chris all the time, since he's a "men's rights activist." Although he has found a sect of women who are pissed with modern feminism and have pretty much become equalists, those working toward true gender equality (which is much closer to where both he and I fit.) However our discussions usually turn toward the legal end of things, in particular things concerned with the law in rape, domestic violence, and divorce/custody battles. THAT'S a hard conversation to get on.

Tim said...

One of the great debates within feminism has been about the status of "femininity". A large part of second-wave (liberal) feminism was a reaction against women because pushed into domestic roles, being expected to be submissive, infantilised, viewed as less capable. So, the implication of holding a door open for women, but not men, is that women are less capable.

In practice, what happened was that masculinity and masculine roles were valued, while femininity was degraded. So, for example, many more women moved into paid jobs than men moved into housework. A cynic might suggest that this is because it fit the dominant economic model better.

Third-wave (radical) feminism critiqued this in various different ways. Some went to the extreme and rejected men and masculinity altogether, trying to forge a new female culture based on harmony, holism, nature and suchlike. Yes, the mythical radical lesbian separatists did exist. Others tried to define gender-neutral values, taking the best of masculine and feminine values.

I think most sophisticated contemporary feminists would say that the ideal is for a spectrum of people, from very "masculine" to very "feminine" and every possible combination in between, but none of it limited by biological sex (or, for that matter, sexual orientation). (And since that's what I think, I'm shamelessly calling myself as a "sophisticated contemporary feminist".) Some people would go further and suggest we should deliberately mix up gender norms.
This approach is not without problems, as "personal choice" or "individual psychology" can't be used as a way of avoiding questions about what influences people to behave how they do.


I think men can say similar things about work, but they are liable to be called a Marxist.

Phoenix's Muse said...

Ruby Awesomeness,

Yep, freelance stuff for now. I'm stepping it up a bit once we move to Buffalo at the end of next month. I teach raw-food recipes at restaurants and public locations for an entry price that covers the class and the meal, as well as doing the freelance artwork, graphics, etc. After I'm established in Buffalo again I have plans for starting up a catering team to cater exotic up-scale rawvegan cuisine at it's finest. :D

In the end, courtesy, open mindedness, polite manners, and happiness within one's chosen role are what we're striving for, no matter what we're naming it, eh?


I like your description. Paraphrased; Any location between masculine or feminine is totally fine and not limited by biological gender... A sophisticated contemporary feminist... *laughs* Good stuff.

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