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IT IS ALL ABOUT THE SHOES: Reflections between Generations

Maturing as a woman, creeping into that "Wise Woman" classification based on both age and experience, I must admit to being a bit troubled by what I am seeing among young women.  Surfing the 'Net I see blog after blog by women under thirty filled with images based on fashion. 

This tendency to define your life through the clothes you purchase has troubling overtones.  It reflects the clout of society to mold character based on values that have nothing to do with life.  The purses, the shoes, the clothes; is this all women are?  Is this all we have allowed society to create for us?  Is this the only message being given to our daughters and granddaughters?  Media highlights over-indulgence, self-adoration, and consumption as normative aspects of modern life.  We see ethics of manipulation, self-service, and relativism employed as models of normal behavior. We see celebrity status bestowed on people simply because of their wealth, their profession, family, or their notoriety.

Personal achievement is contained within shopping expeditions and life punctuated by the ability to acquire things.

Is this life?  Is it what should be life? It is a merely a generational shift emerging as the women of my generation mature and the generation arises to take our place?   Or is it the intensifying eradication of the progress made in the 20th century to bring dignity, equality, and value to the human specifies by the inclusion of women? For a woman who came of age watching her older "sisters" marching, burning bras, and demanding equal pay I have a different perspective on things.  I remember the blatant sexism which said I was a woman and so I could not be paid the same, I was a woman and what I said had less value than a male, and I remember the way women were treated like children incapable of caring for themselves or making decisions. I remember the way women were valued only for their cooking, cleaning, and baby making skills.  I remember the way women were seen only as sexual parts and pieces.

I remember the first time I felt the brunt of being a 'second class citizen' simply because of my gender.  I remember because I am seeing it all over again in a new generation of women who think they are defined and limited by their biology.  

It highlights the need to answer one simple question : what have we done to and for women to bring about a generation of loving, courageous, women able to love themselves and be themselves as women of God?

I fear the answer is - nothing.

I fear that the answer is we have allowed society and its shallow substitutions of woman hood and its strength to be hijacked by narrow definitions of woman.

The evidence is clear.

The echoes of another time can teach us well if we heed their lesson. Look around and see how women are being defined today. They are baby makers, wives, fashionistas, and house fraus; the same formula in place which led to the female awakening and rebellion of the late 1950's and 1960's.  Such definitions are shallow substitutes for real self-actualization and real spiritual relativity. The inevitable outcome will be another cultural upheaval as the shackles of that reality again become too much for both men and women to bear.

The messages are clear from society: women can be strong, intelligent, and independent only as long as they are attractive, sexually exciting, or domestically inclined.  As long as they mold themselves to the dictates of fashion.  As long as they mold themselves to narrow, fundamentalist definitions of what makes a Godly woman.  As long as they accept their role as bitches, nags, victims, baby makers, or sexual objects. As long as they allow their own intelligence to be restricted to the stereotype or their own goals of achievement sidelined in favor of another based merely on gender.

Women - hear the voice of the prophet - it is all about the shoes!  

The shoes are symbols of the sickness and will define and reveal the motives and values you incorporate into your life. The shoes will reflect the control you allow others to have over and in your life. The killer high heels inspired by sex trafficking and designed to maximize physical sexual assets or the comfortable yet stylish shoes of  a woman who has accepted who she is and demands society accept her as she is or not at all!  Which will you choose: The vixen or the warrior; the vamp or the saint; the girl or the lady; the caricature or the real woman?


Contraceptives, Conscience, and Conversation

"Get the Government Out of the Bedroom!", "Get Out of My Uterus!" - those were the signs in the 1960's and 1970's as women, gays, and others argued that what went on in the bedroom and, and in women's bodies, was nobodies business but the people involved.  These people were defined as 'consenting adults.'

Yet, today the dialogue is a call for government to step into the bedroom, the uterus, and sexual relations in general to safeguard 'women's health.'    First Amendment rights of freedom of religion are to be trumped by a woman's 'rights' to contraception.  And, as White House representatives said, 'free contraceptives.'

A young women, stepping into the role of speaking for all women using contraceptives, and calling for their free access via insurance coverage regardless of the First Amendment issues, now finds herself bearing the brunt of dialog.  One side rears up and says no derogatory remarks should be made to or about the young lady. She should not be caricatured as representative of those who wish to have sex and have someone else pay for it.  She should not be called names  or figure in comparisons to others who wish to have sex and have someone pay for it.  Yet, in these same groups conservatives and others are often called 'bastards', 'idiots', 'subintellects', etc.

The real issue here is the conflict between the right of groups to follow their conscience in the services they pay for their employees. If the employer, say a church or religious group, does not believe in sex before marriage, should they be forced to provide contraception - or elective abortions - to an unmarried woman?  If the employer, does not believe in contraception, should they be forced to provide it for non-medical reasons? Non-medical would include the regulation of hormones and other similar applications.

If I am unmarried and intend to have an active sex life - why work for a group which has opposing moral view points?  If I am married but wish to use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy, should I work for a group which does not hold that as a valid lifestyle choice?  Where are the personal ethics in such conflicts of moral viewpoints?

The veneer of civilization we don each day is but that, a shallow covering susceptible to the struggling animal nature lurking beneath the surface.  Humanity on its own always rises to its own lowest common denominator. This is the message of religion - the need for transformation and an elevation of morals, behaviors, and motivations.  Morality can never be legislated successfully - look at prohibition.   Equally, a lack of morality should not be forced on those who hold different beliefs as protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006



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