All the history I did not know….

I promised myself, when I decided to start blogging again, that I wouldn’t get “political.” But sometimes it’s just too darn hard to keep my mouth shut.

I didn’t like history or social studies in high school. I don’t remember it being a deep discussion of ideas or philosophies but instead a process of memorizing pages and pages of events in history: the main characters, the main event, and the date, as in, 1620 the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock; in 1492, Columbus “discovered” America (with, of course, no education as to his murdering and decimation and enslavement of a whole population of peoples who definitely didn’t need discovering to begin with); pages of lines of similar history to be memorized. I remembered 1492 — because it had a rhyme attached to it. I remembered 1620, possibly because my maternal grandparents’ generations were early settlers of Massachusetts (a great, great, great — possibly greater great-grandfather being the first president of Harvard College in 1690). And of course everyone of my generation knew December 7, 1941, which had only occurred a brief 25 years previous to my high school history lessons.

Every line to be memorized was an event of war and domination. But the truth? At least in high school, we weren’t taught that the white man committed genocide upon the First Nations people of what is now the United States. Nobody taught me that the white male society of Britain shipped opium to the Chinese and addicted a whole nation just to equalize their huge trade deficits from their own insatiable appetite for tea. It was simply one-line facts of white male society’s domination over the African continent or South America or India or the conquest of some other empire. They were facts we were to memorize and accept.

Nobody answered my teenage question, “Why did I need to memorize these one-line statements of mankind’s history, most of which reflected wars and conquests?” Oh, that’s right:  it was necessary to memorize these facts so that history would not be repeated. Huh? I might have been interested if I was actually taught the story behind His-Story in high school. I might have become an activist if I was taught that the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee equal rights for women in its constitution — even to this day! Though all provisions have been met ratifying what would be the 28th Amendment codifying the Equal Rights Act (ERA), codifying women’s equal rights, as I understand its status, it has yet to be certified by the archivist that would embody it forever in our Constitution!! I urge the reader to read Her-Story here. https://msmagazine.com/2022/01/27/equal-rights-amendment-resolution-us-house-28th-amendment-constitution/

I wasn’t taught history or the reasons I should be interested in history, and quite frankly, stuffing facts in my head bored me. Instead, for multiple reasons, one of which was an innate sense of wanderlust in my soul, I found myself sailing the South Pacific throughout the Seventies, five years after high school. I was in the South Pacific, without radio, without newspapers, without knowledge of the world “out there” for seven years.

I was overseas when abortion finally became legal in the United States, though I didn’t know that. I only knew that it was illegal when I went to Mexico (across a border that was still free and open) with my boyfriend seven years earlier (my boyfriend’s father, thankfully, having made the arrangements, of which my parents, now long dead, never knew). I was overseas, living in a thatched hut, subsistence farming, in New Zealand in January of 1973 when, I learned many years later, the American War in Vietnam ended. I was somewhere near the Marquesas or Tahiti when burglars broke into the Democratic Headquarters. I was somewhere near Walpole Island, in the middle of nowhere, when Nixon resigned after Woodward and Bernstein, through a free press, revealed his, and the republican party’s, role in the attempt to corrupt the democratic process. I didn’t even know what “Watergate” was until I saw a movie called All the President’s Men years later. I was somewhere in Australia, the home of Germaine Greer, when I heard this thing called the Women’s Liberation Movement. I didn’t give it much attention because, after all, I was sailing in the South Pacific, free, doing what I wanted to do. Weren’t Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best just childhood fairy tales like Peter Pan, nothing to pay heed to? Women weren’t really like that, were they?

Now I’m bombarded with news. I listen. I absorb it. I get upset. I research what I hear, checking the information. I get horrified when, during Trump’s campaign, I see a woman on national TV grab her own crotch and proudly say, “He can grab my pussy any time he wants.” I feel horrified and helpless when an American congressperson, Marjorie Taylor Greene, proclaims “women are the weaker sex” and that “you belong to your husband.”

All things end, all things change. That’s the nature of things. The misogyny in America will end.  My hope is it ends today, this election term. My hope is that the change that comes is for more equality, not less equality, for more compassion and kindness and love before more hatred and darkness. My hope is it ends before my granddaughters are ordered to wear the handmaid’s robes.

If time passes before my next post, it’s because I’m taking a long walk in nature and looking for its goodness and beauty. But today, because I’ve chosen to live in this society and no longer in a thatched hut cut off from the world, because I see these continued and mounting threats against women’s rights as well as the continued discrimination against people of color:  Sometimes a woman has to speak out against these continued injustices.

Or then again, maybe I’ll leave again and fly to Midway and take care of the albatross.  Who knows (I sure don’t.)

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