Celebrating Womanhood and Equality
Updated: Apr 7
Today is the International Women's Day and I have decided to change my subject matter for this blog to some aspects of womanhood. I will be publishing more about my ongoing The Joy of Design Series works and other works in progress in near future. But today I would like to share some observations on being a woman and a human being.
It is my understanding that women have always been both feared and admired by men. Since we have the power to bring life into this world, we are mystical creatures. It is also my understanding that men, for most part of the history, have tried to dominate women. Characteristics that are often admired in men have been considered undesirable in women. The legend of Lilith, sometimes considered to be Adam's first wife, turns her into a demon because she is willful and knows what she wants and dares to disagree with Adam, with whom she is created from the same pile of dust which makes her an equal. Men have considered powerful and opinionated women to be a threat to them for most of the history and in many legends Lilith has been turned into the dark feminine. As such she is a demon and a succubus and murderer of babies. On the other hand, just like Adam's perhaps second wife, Eve, women in most cultures have been taught to be obedient and subservient to their husbands. You see, Eve could never be equal to her husband, since she was created from one of his ribs. As such Eve is literally a part of Adam, but not the whole Adam, so naturally she must be less than him. All women who have identified with any of these stories are carrying these burdens. So are all women who live in cultures that consider women to be less than men. And all of us are paying the price for these and all other societal inequalities, whether they be gender or race or economic.
I come from a different background than most Americans. I was born and raised in Finland, where some gender equality has been more culturally prominent for a longer time than in most other countries in this world. This is also reflected in the language. Just in case you did not know, Finnish happens to be a completely genderless language. There is only one word for the third person, hän, there is no he or she. The same goes for the rest of the Finnish language, products and places are not considered to be either male or female or anything else in nature than just what they are. I believe that languages are alive and reflect loudly the cultural history and attitudes of the people who speak them. I am not saying that Finland is totally free of discrimination. No, Finns are people too and many of them have biases, both individual and national. But overall in Finnish society inequality is less tolerated than in most of the world. By the way, this is true in all the Nordic countries, regardless of the language spoken. I know that In Finland women hold many powerful and prominent leadership positions and are also recognized in arts and sciences but unfortunately gender wage gap is still a reality in Finland. Like almost anywhere in the world men still earn much more money for the same work than women.
Now that the question of all kind of rights has truly risen to the surface in most parts of the world, there is potential for huge social change and improvement. We all need to grow in respect. We need to learn to appreciate the differences and let them enrich our lives. The feminine attributes of nurture and intuition and compassion are present in all emotionally well individuals in all races and traditions, not just women. So are the usually considered masculine attributes of risk taking and boldness and decisiveness, not only in men but also in women. We all have these attributes and we all utilize them to different degrees, depending on our individual circumstances.
Right now we live in very challenging times. There is an opportunity to shed past prejudices and wrongs that have been revealed like perhaps never before. The world has been shown that we all truly are in the same boat with the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what our gender or skin color or nationality, we all have so very much in common both in vulnerabilities as well as in strengths. Our dual nature now has the opportunity to choose what is right and good for the bigger picture instead of what serves only our own special interests. I think we might be standing at a turning point and I hope that all of us will choose well.
I have an insight that only people who speak more than one language and are experienced in translating or are linguists usually have. I know that most words do have several meanings that depend on the context and can be interpreted in very misguided ways. The world is filled with lousy translations and if you have ever used an automatic translation program, you already know this. Since the bible and many other holy texts are mainly written and also translated by men usually after a long history of word of mouth, all kind of errors can enter into any written text. It is truly sad that so many followers and believers choose not to question the validity of what they read. It is well known that the bible for example has been altered over and over again, majorly at least eighteen recorded times, so, there is no original bible in existence. In numerous ways human beings have inserted their own will into what they claim to be the word of God. We all should be careful in regard to choosing our conscious influences since we can do very little in regard to choosing or changing the unconscious ones. I am bringing up this issue because we all live in societies that have been formed on principles guided by religion and/or other dogma. We do not have to keep on repeating the same old errors. We can build more just and righteous societies and the golden rule put into action is a great principle to stand on.
I am illustrating this blog with my drawing, Womanly Ways. You can learn more about this drawing that is also for sale at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/womanly-ways-helena-tiainen.html.