Women and Their Role in Religion
In the ancient world there were many cultures that revered women and their role in society. Some cultures even worshipped them and created statues of fertility to honor their female deities. Some cultures worshipped a singular goddess; like the early Minoans who paid homage to a women figure holding two serpents in her hands. The Greeks had many gods, but also have an equal number of goddesses and queens to show the roles of both men and women are needed in order to make for a balanced society. Did you know that even the Israelites; the chosen people of God; worshipped a female deity called Asherah, before they knew of a Christian god. Today, there are still many Native American tribes that respect a woman and commend her as a blessed being for her creative abilities. In the Lakota culture for example; a woman is revered by the sign of the turtle, as she is seen as the provider and sustainer of life. Just as the turtle carries his shell; a woman carries the priorities, cares and love of her family and people in her heart and on her shoulders.
The coming of the Jews into the belief of Yahweh, that eventually led to Christianity however, has changed the way women are recognized in society, as well as the roles they play in their home lives. There has been a great deal troubling my mind as to just how the human race went from most cultures recognizing women as important role models and care takers; to punching bags and door mats? I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers here and despite how it might sound, I'm also not trying to blame the Christian faith for the mistreatment of women. My biggest issue would be with men and women and our roles throughout history since Christianity has been introduced. We seem to have taken on our own ideas as to what God meant when he gave Adam the rule over Eve.
Is it DNA, or is it D.U.H.?
D.U.H. is something I have coined to stand for the phrase (Desire to have the Upper Hand). First off, I realize that I am using this acronym very loosely, however there is still a very good point to be made here I think. As a visual artist, I am always scoping out new galleries to go to so I can view others works where ever I happen to be at any given moment. I once attended an art gallery inside a church, in the northern states and saw some works from a very talented artist who works mainly with these giant wooden panels. He carves an image in them, then uses paint to fill in the blank image.
On one of these works in particular, was the image of Jacob's Ladder; picturing him in his dream of the ladder ascending into heaven. The ladder was shown as the DNA helix, as if to signify that our Christian faith is in our blood stream and the image angered me, because I don't see it that way. Granted, mine is only opinion, but I felt that the artist would have done better to show the image as a giant hand hammering a nail into someone's head. If the Christian faith was based around the idea of it being a part of our natural makeup, then that would mean that every other culture before ours would have already been practicing the Christian faith and we all know this isn't true. Just ask any Atheist, Agnostic, or Native American and I GARUNTEE they will tell you differently.
With that said, the point I want to make is; if we are already instilled with the knowledge of there being only one god, then wouldn't we all be following God's lead? What is God's lead anyway? Did he mean that it was okay for Adam to bash Eve around whenever she got "out of line"? It has been said that domestic violence is basically a part of our DNA as well. It is said that abuse is hereditary and most of the overwhelming mistreatment and outrageous punishment of other persons in our American history has come from those who claim to be on "God's side", on the side of right and righteousness. (I don't know about you, but something just really doesn't add up here).
The God I learned about in Sunday school when I was a kid would never want to see any of his children hurt, by any means. However, throughout the course of history again, we see that man seems to like to be in control. Men especially, in early history were the rulers, the law makers and the order givers of society. Is it any wonder then, why some of them seem to carry that dominating male gene that sometimes can cause a situation to get rather chaotic? This is not an article designed to bash men in return however. I happen to know plenty of good ones in my family and I'm grateful for each of them. This article is written however; to celebrate women and how we are making a name for ourselves, how we view our accomplishments and failures and how we feel whole.
Early Morning Practice
An Ode to the Cowgirl in All of Us
A woman does not have to know how to throw a lasso, neither does she need to muck out stalls and she certainly doesn't have to ride a fast horse to be a cowgirl. All it takes is having the heart of one. You know, there are a lot of ideas out there about what it is that makes up a "real man". To expand the aforementioned; a myriad of items such as coffee mugs, T-shirts and bumper stickers have all had their faces printed, painted and inked with this very sentiment.
A much rarer epiphany however; is the question of makes a woman a real woman? There really aren’t too many that ask that one. More than likely it is because being female has been set into this groove of being a nurturer. We have been labeled as the care givers and the social healers of the world. Not a bad thing, but when you compare that kind of idealism to the way women have been treated over time, it kind of gets confusing as to the way we are truly viewed in today’s time.
Here, in the 21st century; we are just starting really to create a name for ourselves as it were with a new role. While it isn’t a new thing to have women at the work place; it does mean that we are trying to work along side our gender opposites without proving that we can do the same job as well or better than they can. In the beginning it might have been a “man’s world”, but now more and more we see the power, grit and determination of what was once known as the “fairer sex” coming into play. Women throughout history of course have shown they have spirit, pride, strength and ability, but only in this modern age we live in is it becoming more acknowledged.
However, though we are showing the rest of the world that we are strong in our own right; it is still difficult for us to establish credibility in not the world at large, but within ourselves. Because women have come forward and shown that we are worth our salt; we have shown that we can deal with just as much responsibility in the outside world as men do. Yet, that responsibility does have a tendency to seep into the other aspects of our lives. Now, that’s not to say that men aren’t aware of their own needs, or that those needs are any less important than ours, but probably due to those above mentioned “roles” assigned to us; a man’s outlook to these same responsibilities isn’t the same.
Forever content it would seem, to be in their physical realms; men take a more literal approach to the way they balance out the various aspects of their lives. For women however; well, we take the physical world that we known and pull it into our emotional self; meaning we don’t define who we are by what we do in life. Obviously, this concept is nothing new either, so maybe what we should do is to look at this body of knowledge from a different angle. Perhaps, it would be more concrete to say that women have two ways of categorizing their lives. While we are grateful for the positive feedback we receive for a job well done; or for being creative or inventive, we seek more to be appreciated without the things we accomplish in the physical world.
Women are quite capable of living their lives in a practical sense; we can work a full-time job, we can balance the checkbook and we can raise our children as single parents. We are not incapable of any of this, but we don’t exactly need to be or desire to be known for our accomplishments either. Okay, so we aren’t terribly put off by some recognition if we should place first in a race, or have done something that maybe changed the world for the better just that much more, who wouldn’t like that kind of attention just a little bit? It is however; the personal approval we seek from our own friends and families that means so much more to us.
Recognition as a whole does come in a more emotional form for us. Instead of being satisfied with only the surface acknowledgement we’d get from completing a task, or creating something in physical form; women need to know that we are loved and appreciated despite our worldly accomplishments or outside of them entirely. In other words; a woman doesn’t define herself by what she builds, or by how many deals she can close by the end of the workweek. Although, these attributes are a part of who she is as well; they are not the way she defines who she is as a human being, as a person. Women desire to be accepted for who they are even if what ever dream they are chasing fails.
We need to know that those we love don’t just love us because we are successful in our chosen fields, our jobs do not define who we are as women, as individuals. Our physical, mental and emotional states are all linked simultaneously because they are all a part of one person. It is critical to our well being that we are seen in the whole and not just in part.
This inner knowledge of ourselves is the heart, soul and the grit of a cowgirl. We are self-made more than influenced by the world around us. We take the advice of those close to us, but we also live according to the way that best suits us. We can be stubborn and you better not mess with our bad side unless you want a fight on your hands, but our devotion to those we love is like no other. We are hard core workers who are level-headed (most of the time) and we cannot stand drama. We have a tremendous amount of faith and we know that even though life is full of twists and turns, there isn't really anything to fear because sooner or later if we keep a steady course, it all will turn out all right somewhere down the road.