short story
women should be beaten
domestic violence
women are like men
destined for poverty
work and poverty
man away from poverty
dualistic paradigms
but be silent
living anima
one heroine's struggle
fantasy art






"Many people talk about the need to increase the number of women in science and math. While those efforts are needed, they ignore the underlying question: why does society value accountants more than social workers?" - An Overview of Women & Work by Ellen Bravo & Gloria Santa Anna

Patriarchy dominates. Anything patriarchy values dominates: competition, linear thinking, black-and-white value judgements, binary code (0's and 1's), lack of feelings & emotions, a sense of reserve, being a "lone, fearless wolf", risk-taking, the alpha male, suits, ties, working with half a brain, working without a heart.

Women are raised and conditioned to know their hearts, be comfortable and powerful with feeling, expressing, relating, cooperating, supporting, loving. These actions all expend energy - they are all work. But we don't think of them as work. Society doesn't think of them as work. And patriarchy certainly will never consider them as work.

I have lived in poverty in all my adult life. I recount one year when I actually earned 10K-which I did by working 2 and sometimes 3, jobs. I am presently, at 27, trying to both finish my bachelor's degree and build my art business so I can earn a livable income and not have to suffer poverty again. My boyfriend is likewise promoting his photography business - and I am always amazed that, despite the fact I have 100 times more passion, intensity, drive and ambition for my business than he does for his, he can endure and stride farther than I can, in any given day. He is built like a workhorse, and I envy him as he leaves me in dust.

When I look at why, it is obvious: my boyfriend and most men can endlessly do, just as I and most women can endlessly be and feel. I'm not saying women don't do a lot - women do do a lot, I do a lot. But like most women, I become overwhelmed and exhausted almost every day. I need more "down" time than my boyfriend does. Time to speak with loved ones, listen to my friends, to relax in a bathtub, to walk in the woods. If society valued emotions, expression, strong intuition and a high ability to relate, I would be a queen, I would be a millionaire. But as it stands, none of the things I was conditioned for or had strong natural ability towards is valued. Yes, I make a good friend, people like me and I probably won't die of a heart attack or upturn my life at age 50 from a mid-life crisis because I know myself too well, but my skills, my feminine abilities go unnoticed and under-appreciated. Society doesn't reward emoters, expressors. "Help wanted: Large corporation seeks highly intuitive individual with advanced ability in self-awareness and emotional depth and expression. Desire to support, understand, listen a plus. Great salary, benefits for those who are relational experts." I know I would be a star! If only it were a world like that, I could - would - work all the time.

I often gripe - or ignore the nagging feelings - that I am becoming more and more "like a man." I conform to a certain masculinity, so I will be heard, respected - and paid. Let's face it, folks - we don't pay for feminine qualities. What the world wants is production (male), or, saving that, services (that are also male - "feminine" services aren't that important and any "dummy" - i.e., "unskilled person"?? - can perform those.) Although I do not "glorify the oppressor", I realize that if I do not function primarily in my masculine mode - if I am not focused, self-centered, competitive, hard-nosed, extremely shrewd - then I will continue to live in poverty, work as unskilled, "support" labor (as a secretary) and will have no consumer power.

My best friend shared this with me: after weeks of working to meet a deadline at work, she no longer felt human. She craved emotional intimacy, conversations with friends, time when she could relate to people in a non-hierarchical setting. It's the feminine experience that needs to be valued. We can pay male and female engineers the same wage - but the world is just as oppressive for women while the engineer earns an astronomically higher salary than a kindergarten teacher. When will everyone agree that performing surgery on the body is just as tenuous and delicate as navigating the locked secrets and emotions of a sexual abuse survivor?


© 1990 - 2003 Katharina Woodworth

fantasy art