20.9.16

52 Mondays (1/52): Introduction to the War on Women


 Today isn't a Monday, and it isn't January. Nevertheless, here I sit crafting the first of what may become the third series of 52 Mondays for @wrighterly. A few weeks ago, I thought to do this at the beginning of September and allow myself either 1) padding to skip a week here or there and still wrap at the end of December 2017 and/or 2) room to cover more than 52 weeks if the content demanded. Then the beginning of September came and went as such things tend to do. I'm here, and the world won't wait for January.

If we're incredibly fortunate in a variety of ways, the United States of America will swear in her first female president in January 2017. Thirty years behind the UK, behind Argentina, behind India for the love of all that's holy. But we'll do it. The doing of that thing, electing HRC to the presidency is important... not because she will make a better president than Donald Trump, although she undoubtably will, but because we must set aside the notion that a woman is unelectable. Only the physical act of electing a woman (any woman) will do that. 

But these 52 weeks are not about HRC. They're about me, about my three daughters, about you and your daughters, your sisters, mothers, wives... and our sons.

The war on women (and yes, I was wrong last year; there is a war on women) has been fought more or less quietly through the last millennium and a half until the days of Betsy Ross and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, more or less quietly again until the days of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and Rosa Parks, and more or less quietly since then. Perhaps in the pockets of relative calm bought by our quiescence, we forget that the second class status of women is the longest running con in human history. Pulled off with public chivalry and private dominance, with keeping the boys in line and intergenerational transmission of socialized mores, the chains that bind women perpetuate global economic, social, and political stability. They will not be cast aside with ease, nor will our freedom be won at the hands of the few for the good of the many. To gain the equality about which we hear good people such as UN Ambassador Emma Watson speak, the majority of both men and women must recognize the totalitarian enslavement of girls and women and must subsequently reject its legitimacy as a worldview and social structure. This takes time and conscious effort on the parts of parents, friends, lovers, and educators.

I saw a photo on FaceBook this week (see above), a little girl with messy blond hair and face painted like a warrior princess. The picture read, "Why raise your daughter to be a lady when you can teach her to be a warrior?" 

She'll have to be (a warrior) to survive in this world. Train her well, and she'll leave it a
better place for her own daughters. Better yet, take heed of a second photo I saw, a little boy cradling a tiny baby girl (right). This one encouraged viewers to remember they were raising someone's future husband, father. Yes, that. Teach our sons to be warriors, too. 

What's that old adage? You can't con an honest man. Not quite true, but it's an awful lot harder to convince half the population they should be subjugated if 90% of the population doesn't believe it.

I took the liberty of pulling the OED's definitions of war and warrior before I started this. I'm particularly fond of 1.b and 3.b for war, and I like 2.b for warrior. It's time to change the dialogue around the word warrior. When one is at war from birth, we earn the label by breathing. It's time to take up our arms and live as we believe.


war: (n.)  Brit. /wɔː/, U.S. /wɔ(ə)r/

1. a. Hostile contention by means of armed forces, carried on between nations, states, or rulers, or between parties in the same nation or state; the employment of armed forces against a foreign power, or against an opposing party in the state.

b. transf. and fig. Applied poet. or rhetorically to any kind of active hostility or contention between living beings, or of conflict between opposing forces or principles.

c. The pl. (esp. with def. article) was formerly often used in the same sense as the sing.

d. open war: avowed active hostility.

e. abstinence, prorogation of war: suspension of hostilities. Obs.

2. In various phrases. (For declare, levy, wage war, see the vbs.)

a. (to be) at war, †at wars, †in war, †in wars: engaged in war. lit. and fig. So at open war, †wars.

b. to go to war or †wars: to enter on hostilities. to go to the war(s) (arch.): to go abroad as a soldier.

†c. to have war: to be at war (with, to). to hold, keep war or wars: to be continuously at war.

d. to make war: to carry on hostilities. lit. and fig. Const. on, upon, with; also against, and †to, unto, or dative.

†e. (to win, etc.) of, on, with war: by warfare.

3. a. In particularized sense: A contest between armed forces carried on in a campaign or series of campaigns.

b. transf. and fig. A contest, struggle (between living beings or opposing forces). Cf. 1b. Also war of nerves: see nerve n. Phrases 5; war of words (Journalese), a sustained conflict conducted by means of the spoken or printed word; a propaganda war.

c. to carry the war into the enemy's camp (into Africa, etc.).

d. war to end (all) war(s): a war regarded as making subsequent wars unnecessary or unthinkable; spec. the First World War (1914–18).

e. to have a good war: to achieve success, satisfaction, or enjoyment during a war. Also with other adjs. Often ironic.

†4. a. Actual fighting, battle; a battle, engagement. Obs. (chiefly poet.)

†b. A hostile attack, invasion, assault.

5. a. The kind of operations by which the contention of armed forces is carried on; fighting as a department of activity, as a profession, or as an art. 

b. In titles of office, captain of the war, treasurer of the king's wars, treasurer at wars.

c. in phrasal combinations designating things pertaining to warfare, as munitions of war, †weeds of war. †castle of war, house of war, place of war, town of war (obs.), a fortified building or place. †line of war Naut., the flotation-line of a ship when fully armed, ammunitioned, and victualled for three months.

†d. Manner of fighting.

6. concr. Used poet. for:

a. Instruments of war, munitions.

b. Soldiers in fighting array.

†7. course of war, jousts of war, tournament of war: a tournament, joust. Similarly, to joust of war. 


warrior, n., Brit. /ˈwɒrɪə/, U.S. /ˈwɔriər/

1. A person who makes war upon; a persecutor.

2. a. A person whose occupation is warfare; a fighting man, whether soldier, sailor, or (latterly) airman; (in eulogistic sense) a valiant or an experienced man of war. Now chiefly poet. and rhetorical, esp. as applied to the fighting men of the ages celebrated in epic and romance and of pre-industrial peoples, for whom the designation soldier would be inappropriate.

b. occas. applied to a woman. lit. and fig.

c. transf. Applied to an animal.

d. warrior's belt: see quot. 1879.

3. A local name for the wallflower, Cheiranthus Cheiri.

4. A South American humming-bird of the genus Oxypogon.

52 Mondays is my 2016/17 project here on wrighterly. Each Monday, I'll post a different essay on some topic related to the war on women (or a tangential topic). The purpose is to raise the level of dialog on this issue if only among the modest audience I currently enjoy.

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