Editor’s Note: If you are a parent or thinking one day you might be one, do you ever consciously consider the legacy you bring to raising children? Do you even know the stories of the women and men in your lineage? March 8, 2016 was International Woman’s Day and Laura Vogels posted this piece on Facebook first and graciously grants us the opportunity to reprint it. At Healthy Sense of Self we take a stand that all born deserve to live a life of their choice, but that was not always the case. What might you experience if you stepped into the spirit of the women in your lineage?
Happy International Woman’s Day!
In acting class yesterday, we did an amazing exercise where we had to step into the spirit of our ancestors. The women would step directly into their female lineage: your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. We were to use our imagination and feel what it was like to be them. What were their qualities? Their hopes and dreams.
At first I was disappointed because these women were all so bitter and fearful despite being very intelligent and capable. But when we were asked: what were their dreams? I was shocked. I couldn’t find any answers… I didn’t know! My mother wished on some level that she had been born a gypsy man so she could’ve been free. My grandmother was stuck in the kitchen controlling every social interaction with an iron will- what was her dream? My great grandmother… was a blank. In the late 1800s I doubt she had much choice other than motherhood. It didn’t really matter if she had dreams.
Other than my mother, none of them had any identity beyond their title. No legacy other than their children. All of a sudden I had a lot more sympathy and tolerance for the struggles that are happening today. I’ve always been very judgmental of what I perceived as feminine weakness- I hate that I am scared of rape, that I have to find masculine ways of communicating just so that my boss will take me seriously, or that I’m afraid that I’m rapidly approaching an expiration date in my career because as an actress somehow my value on screen declines as I age. I thought that if I lived like these things weren’t a problem, they’d go away. But today, instead of blindly forging ahead, I acknowledge the past. Where we have come from.
In reality, it’s only been 60 years since we’ve been allowed to even dream that our identities might extend beyond that of mother or sex object. But now… I get to have sex for pleasure, to choose my identity, my job, and how I live my life. Which in historical context is FUCKING MIRACULOUS.
We are far from done. Everyone is struggling to find their identity while the world is changing faster than ever before. So on this day I give love to my father, who while being an incredible provider always takes the time to do the housework, to all the millennial men who are trying to find a new more emotionally connected version of masculinity, and those actively supporting women as they figure out how to be in this brave new world. I honor my mother, who put in the hard work in figuring out her identity while the world was telling her to be one way, all the women who are trying to find their voice when the world is full of mixed messages, and myself- because I’m doing the best I can in an imperfect world.
Right now, we are suffering the cultural hangover from the sins of our fathers. This applies to every historically oppressed group and to those who are standing at the top of the perceived hierarchy. It’s all shifting. We all have to change. In order to keep moving forward and create a better world for all, politically, we’ve got to keep the control of women’s bodies in the hands of women. Birth control and choice is no joke. It’s not a side matter to be decided upon by people who don’t fully understand its implications. It is the key to our freedom. We have to discover her story in history media so that we can more easily give voice to and define our identity. As this is achieved we will continue to become more fully contributing members to society as a whole- something everyone wants!
So let’s do what our ancestors couldn’t do and make them proud: dream and make it come true. Even if we don’t make it in this generation, at least we had the chance to try. For that, I am grateful.