Category Archives: books

Eh gads, I am a Feminist?

I very clearly recall a conversation between my parents at the dinner table in the late 60s or very early 70s. My brother and I were in school all day at this point, and while my mother mandingohad an expansive vegetable garden to tend, and read novels like, oh gawd, Mandingo (I remember sneaking a page and being mortified of the vivid description of a rather endowed man’s anatomy), she also sewed, baked and cooked, but she wanted to get a little part time job at the local pharmacy as a cashier, to have her own money and get out of the house. My father told her in no uncertain terms that if she went to work “it will put us into a different tax bracket” and that was the end of the discussion.  (Lord knows she’s never expressed her opinions to his face in 54 years of marriage. )

It’s notable that my father’s favorite TV show of this time was All in the Family, the parody of a ultra-bigoted, racist and sexist man, a man all too literally sitting at my kitchen table each evening. It pains my heart that, as so archiemany of you reading this will attest, the telling line of the theme song “guys like us we had it made” reflecting a nostalgia for a different time when women stayed home (like my mother) is still with us and our collective humanity. And “angry old white guys” are making things difficult and ugly for so many because the world as they would like it to be doesn’t exist – exerting excessive control, spouting abhorrent rhetoric, always seems to escalate when this segment of society feels threatened. (My father peeled rubber down the driveway throwing gravel, stormed out of rooms with the toss of his chair, or gave you ‘the look’ whenever he was challenged or somehow something anyone else knew and expressed was contrary to his closely held view.)

Growing up in a childhood environment such as this, and with all the ills that remain for women to fight against even to this day, how is it that I have not actively and passionately embrace this moniker until recently?

I mean at 12 I was having a conversation about Roe v Wade with my priest and I have struggled against the barriers to equal pay throughout adulthood, the mere idea of human trafficking makes me quiver with angerHumanTraffickingMythbusterPOSTER, and yet it took a social media chat with a man of Latin heritage who can claim serious credibility in “enlightenment” to push me over the edge and realise, I AM A FEMINIST! (if you aren’t also you need to watch this video from the brilliant Lacy Green.)

This ‘title’ doesn’t feel authentic to me yet (there are women and men I know that truly fight the good fight every day, utterly committed, and they are damn loud about it) but (for clarity, just now) I called up Merriam-Webster online and according to their site feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”, who wouldn’t want that? (Okay, other than the Republican Party in the United States and the ultra-Orthodox of any and all religions.) Feminism, in case you reading this were unaware, actually traces its roots back to the age of Enlightenment and the hero of said movement Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My claim to being a feminist came about because the aforementioned man posted an image on his Facebook wall entitled ‘Tennis Sweets’ (not a reference point to Sugarpova) which  featured a nubile young woman in (ridiculously) high heels, the shortest white pleated tennis skirt imaginable, lace panties, no shirt, no bra and a white sweater draped in such a way as to just cover her nipples. This was in such a stark contrast the Universalist mindset of love he had presented that I was compelled to call him out on it, and he responded that he took it down but not for me (okay, fine, whatever).

gender is not between your legsWhat’s odd is that in his posting the image he did me a huge favour, so I thanked him and expressed: “my reaction told me something I didn’t truly realise about myself – eh gads, I am a Feminist!”

And then he wrote: “That’s not healthy… Be human first… Your sex is not you…”

If you think about it, this is kind of funny because the image that prompted this personal discovery for me was about sex, a woman’s sex, and objectifying her rather than seeing her ‘in fullness of being’; and that has ALWAYS been an issue for me, the objectification. (How one woman balanced the ‘creepy man syndrome’ – do click thru, it’s brilliant!)

Equally so, I suppose, is the assumption that he made earlier (and men often make) that unless a woman has a partner, a lover, a man, there is something wrong (with her). Because despite the fact that he freely acknowledged my “great soul” and later in our text conversation wrote “enlightenment will disable all thoughts of need of equality between man and woman.. That’s my point… I believe your higher then you believe so…” he had pointedly asked: “How you survive the nights? in terms of sex? or companionship? You have a active lover?”

sadhuSigh. So even when we have reached a higher level of consciousness, our souls having a human experience, it ever comes down to ‘who are you spending your nights with’? And if you aren’t spending your nights with someone that somehow either makes you a freak, diminishes you in the eyes of humanity or evokes pity. Does anyone express such about monks, nuns and sadhus?

So let me be clear, Madison Kimrey is the kind of chutzpah packing feminist I wish I was and she’s not yet 13 years old (I sincerely hope no one is asking her who she is spending her nights with)! I absolutely love that she has taken on uber-conservative Phyllis Schlafly  in the common ground of a bra to eloquently express that equality really means having choices. My choice, as a woman and as a feminist, and more accurately as an evolved soul having a human experience, is not to share my bed simply for the sake of doing so.  The energy in the sacred sanctuary of our sleep needs to be nurturing, protective, harmonious, inclusive and yes equal – and I am unapologetic about abstinence and exclusion until I find that singular person unquestionably worthy of aligning all of my chakras as I take responsibility for the care of his.  

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There will be consequences for your stupidity! 😉

In the meantime there’s something to be said for being a feminist, a humanist, a mindful sensualist and for not suffering fools. (Yes, I unfriended the Latin man. )

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Mary’s Hem – or, we see what we cultivate within us

I would like to think that we are really blank canvases awaiting the brushstrokes of experience and creativity to ‘colour’ us. That each of us has an artists’ eye for beauty that is part nature, part nurture.  The expansion of our natural appreciation develops broadly or narrowly depending upon a hundred million variables and how we process these data points to ultimately manifest our greatest selves. There’s little doubt that our unique filters, acquired through experience and intellectual pursuits, allow us to see things that others fail to – and likewise we will never see what they do.  Does it have to be this way?

Mostar

Herzeg Day Tours image, Mostar bridge

Against the backdrop of a Facebook conversation about a photograph of the old bridge Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) a Swedish artist acquaintance of mine introduced me to two individuals – one a woman living in Sweden originally from Bosnia, and the other a Slovene man from Trieste (Italy); this is one of the greatest joys of social media (I would be unlikely to meet these individuals in any other way)!

In visiting the man’s profile and (of course) his albums this morning I was struck by his photograph of a fresco in an church in Muggia, Italy – and I guarantee what I saw isn’t what you see.

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Stefan Turk Muggia Italy

What I saw was based not upon the life experience of being brought up as a Roman Catholic, or subsequently being a nominally practicing Episcopalian (since age 19) with profound leanings toward Buddhism.  No, what I saw in the gold adorned hems of Mary’s robe was calligraphy – and not just any calligraphy, I saw the word “God” in the gold embellishment of a Renaissance artist who was unlikely to be Muslim. I saw convergence and at-one-ment, there is only one God and He (or She) has 99 names. So much so did I see Islamic calligraphy that I sent the image at left to a very dear girlfriend of mine in Istanbul to ask her what she saw!  I know some of you might read this (not having any previous encounter with my rather Unitarian views based upon Eastern philosophy) and think I am either a blasphemer or a heretic  (or both), I am neither. But I see convergence in nearly everything, the common which unites us rather than the differences which serve (radicals and extremists) to divide us. I see God’s hand in everything, all the time.

The ‘nurture’ aspect of my filter (in this case) comes from a long held fascination with Persian miniature paintings, illuminated manuscripts spanning examples of Books of Hours, Vedic texts as well as from the Qu’ran. Each of these (and those of many more traditions) created by a single artisan for the Glory of God, often times by candle light and using tiny brushes made of single hairs from a camel, a boar or a sable in combination with gold leaf and precious minerals.

More specifically, in the case of the hem of Mary’s robe in Muggia, was the infinite pleasure and expansion of my curiousity found at the Alfred M. Sackler Museum (part of Harvard University DSCN9996Art Museums) in multiple visits between October 1999 and January 2000 to Letters in Gold: Ottoman Calligraphy from the Sakip Sabanci Collection – (okay, and yes, having just looked up the book on Amazon (who knew?) to share with you I have now moved my copy from off the floor to my desk!!!)

We look at the Virgin Mary just as we also understand Guanyin (also known as Kuan Yin) short for Guanshiyin, which means “Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World” to be models of virtue and compassion.  Even though my filter has created a sacred connection between this particular example of religious art of Christianity and the calligraphy art of Islam, it feels somehow a blessing to see one – one I needed to share with you today.

God

God in Islamic calligraphy by Sultan Balubaid

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God in Ottoman calligraphy from yurdan.com

Stefan Turk's photograph Mary's hem, Muggia Italy

Stefan Turk’s photograph Mary’s hem, Muggia Italy

 

With so much of our world fragmented, focused upon dissention and disparity there is a refuge to be found in my heart,  joy in the tiny elements of our existence that is resonant with love, things that make me feel profound gratitude for bearing witness to sublime, for this is the unique filter I have been graced to possess in the hope of using it for amplification that benefits all of us.

Love isn’t love until you give it away. Let’s do something more than put forth swaths of pink and red and white, let’s celebrate love in seeing more clearly the pure white light of God’s love all around us.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ via livelikeadog@gmail.com through PayPal.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Das Boot(s)!

Yesterday I scored a pair of utterly impractical, Kaki Daniels black velvet boots on eBay for $51.99 (original retail around $500) because, well, because of OKCupid… and also because I am working on my second book – this one about finding love after 50 (yet untitled) so I am considering them a prop for ‘field research’.

My book is chronicling my personal experiences in navigating online dating, combining it with research involving histories’ greatest lovers, Imagethe lives and ‘careers’ of women commonly referred to as Les Grandes Horizontales of 19th century France, Geisha’s, Venetian courtesans (like Veronica Franco), the seductive power of, say, Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman and the confusion I experienced in watching Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, what makes something truly sensual, and men, oh, yes MEN, finding a GREAT ONE and what makes them respect, swoon, finally commit! That I am the least qualified woman on the planet to write about these (I am not a scholar of women’s studies, human sexuality or for that matter a historian) matters not.  Why? Let’s start with the fact that I can still hear my mother say “why do you have to make every guy your best friend?” (Maybe because that safer path meant I wouldn’t come home a pregnant teenager or acquire STDs.) Okay, and I was a virgin on my wedding night and I can count more years of not having intimate physical relations than those in which I have.  Oh yes, and I have this ABSOLUTE about physical expression needing to be bound to emotional and spiritual commitment.  But I am curious and as someone who exists in a state of mindful sensuality about virtually everything, whose friends leave notes on the back of business cards tucked inside my books saying things like “use your power wisely”, I wonder WHY have I put off finding this ‘perfect for me’ man and hopefully in finding him I might create laughter, foster thoughtfulness, encourage the passionate exploration of life and love, and find it without clichés in the process. Of course I am experiencing plenty of clichés!

Anyway, back to the boots, which in their own way are just as scary as the movie title I have used for this post!  I have never owned anything remotely like these – they are so sexy that they should come with a warning label and age restriction around their use. I am trying to figure out what (besides the obvious Lise Charmel) to wear them with, and more specifically with whom and when!?  None of that matters for the present.  It was the art of bidding here in combination with the fact that “the universe” clearly understood that I should have them is most important. One, never, ever, be in a hurry. The auction, as most are, was 7 days in duration. At the time I found the listing (primarily a fluke because I was actually searching for a pair of Emma Hope beaded and embellished mules) 3 days remained, they had one bid of $18.99, and I was not inclined to pay more than $40 plus shipping for something so frivolous. So I put them on my watch list and w-a-i-t-e-d.

I was on a Skype call when the countdown to bidding began – 34 minutes to the auction ending. It’s amazing how slowly time can pass even while multi-tasking. All of the sudden it was 3 minutes to go. At 2 minutes before auction end I opened the bid window, entered $60, prayed that my timing was spot on against the processing (actually I have never done this before) cycles at eBay, waited until the countdown clock cleared 58 seconds and submitted my bid. My heart was racing, my hands clammy. Really? Over a pair of boots I might not have the nerve to wear in public (or private) in the spirit of discovering their effect on the right man? The site registered my bid, and the high bid jumped from $18.99 to $31.99 at 2 seconds to go – and then, CONGRATULATIONS, YOU WON! My girlfriend in London did a happy dance with me virtually.

bootsMaybe the boots have certain magical powers like Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. Almost as a reaction to my stepping over the edge of reason, the universe conspired and an OKCupid suitor sent me an invitation to be his guest in Egypt at the end of November.   (I doubt these will be in my luggage.)

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