“What do you think the new woman will be?" - Nellie Bly
"She’ll be free." - Susan B. Anthony
I love that quote and had never heard it until recently. I love that Susan B. Anthony had a vision of women of the future and all she knew, all that was important, was underneath everything, women were just FREE.
I find it's an interesting concept to think about around the 4th of July...a small group of politicians, statesmen and soldiers who were willing to go against the authority of the British Crown, risk their lives and be labeled traitors, who fought for a vision they shared of a new world...a world built on principles so radical and so revolutionary that nothing like it had been seen anywhere before. A place where liberty was valued above all else. Freedom to act as one wished, freedom to believe what one wanted, and freedom to think for oneself. The individual and their conscience were of preeminent importance.
"If you aren’t free to think your own thoughts and believe your own beliefs, you aren’t free, period." - James Madison
To jump now to 2016, seeing where women specifically have come from up until this moment, is a fascinating journey in and of itself. For me, it's an exciting and important step for us all to examine where we are dislodging ourselves from beliefs we have inherited and deciding for ourselves, maybe for the first time in history, what WE want to think and believe. What WE want to be valued for. What life WE want to create simply because we want to.
The radical and revolutionary ideals that built a new world and sent shock-waves through the old are still unfolding over 200 years later..and probably will continue to do so for a long time. Susan B. Anthony's dream of a day when WOMEN are truly FREE on every level imaginable is becoming more and more a reality all the time...sometimes a lot more slowly than many of us would want or hope! It requires a lot of work, focus, understanding, and inspired action to bring it into being.
What I have seen happening most recently that I think is becoming an important shift is a shift away from looking at and giving energy to what's wrong, what enrages us and belittles us, to a focus on WHAT WE WANT. That, to me, is a significant and immeasurable shift. And LOT harder. For instance, in a recent BUSTING THE GOOD GIRL workshop in LA we started speaking about a stand-up show that one of the women saw with a few male friends. It started with a really awful, mean-spirited, woman-bashing, misogynist set and the rest of the night went downhill from there. You could feel the anger, frustration, and hopelessness of the room build and the spirit that had been there lessen almost instantly. More and more women chimed in about similar experiences and even more so, seeming powerlessness to do ANYTHING about it. "Should I write a letter to the comic who hosts the night? Go to the club to talk to him? Call the owner? Blog about it? Write all over Facebook about it??..." A familiar conversation that evokes a familiar emotional package. And NO FUN. So then, I shifted the conversation because I know for myself that's ALWAYS an interesting moment. What if we just left them all alone? They clearly have an audience so fine. That's their right to do stand-up that way. Great, good luck and farewell. So once we stop trying to make them do something else, why don't we talk about what WE WANT. Suddenly it was quiet...but filled with a different energy. One by one the 12 women in the room started chiming in on what kind of comedy THEY would want, what venues, what the experience would look like and feel like. We saw that maybe people who currently dislike stand-up would be attracted to this new thing because it spoke TO THEM. So the fear of not having an audience started to lessen and the excitement to CREATE poured in. And within 5-10 minutes we could care LESS what this one stupid club was doing or not doing! Who cares!??! We have bigger fish to fry! Important comedy to make! I don't think this is about stopping people from doing what they're going to do...it's about adding our voices to the up-until-now-white-straight-male conversation and world. A beautiful example of this happened when a bunch of hateful people went to protest in Ohio. A huge group of citizens showed up known as "The Angels", not to stop them, but to out-shout them and sing "songs about love". The protestors soon packed up and left.
There's a quote that I can't seem to find so I'll do my best to paraphrase without screwing it up hopefully which Buckminster Fuller apparently said of the laws under which everything in the universe operates - galaxies, stars, planets - which is: energy that goes into trying to salvage something old, dying, broken is lost energy. The only energy that has any impact is the energy used to create the new, what's next...and it's always an evolution, a step FORWARD.