Back in the mid 1960's, I sat in my tiny suburban house, my three toddlers napping, while I read Betty Friedan's, The Feminine Mystique . I am old enough to have grown up in the time when girls were still encouraged to prepare primarily for lives as housewives and mothers.
I enjoyed my young adult life in the suburbs because, at that time, most women were still home; And we could get together each day to share our life happenings. Everyone's life in my neighborhood was pretty homogenous. Then the world exploded with social change of every kind.
My early childhood religious practices failed to compel my allegiance once I was exposed to the meaningful, immediate causes that rose to the surface in the late 1960's. We women, who were kept of the home and family, were called upon to bring our skills and talents into the larger society. Become educated, liberate ourselves from restricted lives, get a job, influence the course of business and politics, leave domineerng husbands, insist on shared child care, have more sex with more joy, speak the truth of our hearts and souls.
And so, we did. By 1976, I had been divorced, moved, gone to college, secured a job, danced in the streets, hitchhiked from north to south, given up a new six-bedroom house to travel the USA in a VW van, changed my diet, Began to meditate and thoroughly enjoy the wild ride of hippiedom. Of course, there were downsides too. But, fortunately, the trend of the 1970's was on personal growth. This moved me to deeply examine everything that was happening to me and my society.
My spirit blossomed. I learned from Native American teachers and Eastern philosophers and found the blend of practices that truly spoke to my heart. All around me, women and men were making new choices to create a better world. The feeling was sensually present that we could, indeed, create paradise on Earth.
With a plan in mind for my part in this great scheme, I began to study and experiment with varieties of communal living. Like many of us who went "back to the land," I discovered how much I did not know about the natural world around me. I had never grown food, chopped wood or carried water.
Women of my era began to focus on these skills with new enthusiasm. Over the years, many went on to specialize in things our grandmothers took for granted as commonplace, things like midwifery, herbal medicine, folk singing and organic gardening. Our mothers had been "modern" and embroidered consumer technology. Thus, many of us were clueless about the origins of life: our own birth, child bearing, the fertility of nature.
Learning these sexy truths – really, it is about sex in all its forms – was amazingly interesting. I am still in awe about how plain dirt and teensy seeds and invisible organisms end up as a gourmet meal on my table, then cycle through my life as "me" until, once again, I become "them." It is mindboggling that no one in my childhood, not parents, teachers or practices, ever mentioned this cycle of life!
Thanksfully, times have changed. On the surface, it is not quite the world we young hippie flower children dreamed of, but the values of love and fairness toward all people and all creatures seems to have made the cut. There is still war, poverty, disease and ignorance, but I also see compassion, tolerance, compassion and holistic health awareness on a grand scale. I still think we can do it.
As women, as mothers, as lovers of beauty, nourishment and order, I think that women, as well as the men who savor their own feminine aspects, are seeing the present times as demanding everything we have ever learned, all the lessons of our Mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers on back. We have the opportunity to use our college educations, street smarts, native wisdom, intuitive guidance, love of the earth, garden skills, techno-competence, artistically creative, socially constructive talents in every moment of our lives. We can communicate around the world instantaneously. We have access to every spiritual tradition of mysteries and truths. And we still have transportation, some cash and all the "stuff" we could possibly use.
If this is not women's liberty, I do not know what is. There are, as I said, still plenty of obstacles on the road to paradise, but, woman, you are equipped! If you can not make a life you can love by the end of 2010, you better … well, go back and follow the crumbs on the path like we did. At least the crumbs are about two feet deep by now, so you should not have any trouble finding them.
Read the early writers on women's liberation, find a text that uses the pronoun "she" instead of "he" and see how it feels. Grow a tomato. Take a plunge into something you thought you could never do. Become part of this wave of loving kindness that is just beginning to crest. With your help, we may get to the shore yet.