Saturday, March 17, 2012

of gender & weather

what season, please?
The cottonwood trees are magnificent in their pre-spring color (shades of September), while the trees around them are as bare as January - unless you look closely and notice tiny swelling buds at tips of branches. Yesterday's 70 degree temperatures sent all of us into spring fever restlessness. I dawdled at my desk, went for a walk,  wandered in and out of shops showing new spring stuff and succumbed to the lure of a gauzy scarf in a lovely grape hyacinth blue. Which, today, I have wrapped around my neck as winds begin to howl around the house again and the temperature is already dropping. Yes, we're still expecting snow and cold for the next three days. And although the sun is shining brightly, there are signs in the sky.

"I want a world that matches my life inside and out" 
(Linda Gregg)

Each year Taos designates a theme that gets loosely incorporated into various ongoing events from January to December. 2012 is the year of Remarkable Women of Taos. It began with the Agnes Martin centennial celebration at the Harwood Museum. Events will cover every aspect and definition of a woman's creative life. Women of all ages, levels of accomplishment, service, are being honored.  I have been invited to do a reading at the Remarkable Women of Words project in April and I'm excited to be a small part of that day's events. This Taos theme has actually even been mentioned in the New York Times, much to the delight of the organizers.

All this talk about women, the positives (there are many), and the recent extremist media harangues, have got me revisiting feminist issues. I have called myself a feminist since the late 1960's and early 70's when we were demanding equal rights on all fronts. I still recall with horror some of the comments men made when the subject came up at cocktail parties. One so-called male friend swooped me up and threatened to throw me into his backyard pool because of my audacious views. I won't repeat what I said to him as he marched toward the water, but suffice to say that I used words I'd never used before in public and he quickly put me back on my feet.
(original reproduction 36"x42", Homage-Picasso by Ron Marchese Ciancio)
In recent years, younger generations of women seem to hear the word as a negative. I'm hoping that as our culture's barely hidden sexism reveals itself again, those young women (who take their free choices for granted) will raise their voices as their mothers and grandmothers before them did. I certainly can't address the whole issue with its many facets, but I sense a groundswell in my small world, as local high school students write and perform with confidence, gritty no-holds-barred poetry. Cheers to those young poets (female and male) who turned a few heads inside-out at a recent slam.

If one woman were to tell
the truth about her life
the world would split
              Muriel Rukeyser