half the sky

Women hold up half the sky.

This quote is from one Chairman Mao Tse-tung. Yes, he was a communist. Yes, he lowered the Iron Curtain. Say what you will, but the man showed more respect to women in one sentence than the entire world does on any given day.

Women hold up half the sky.

Adrienne Rich* called for re-vision, for an awakening. Women must be re-cast. They must step into roles once denied them. They must be the poets, the enchanters, the achievers. Their voices must be unsilenced. Once we identify that their voices are hidden, how can we not hear them?

But… if women must be re-cast, does that not also necessitate that men must also be re-cast? What does this re-casting look like? Having never been a man, I can’t genuinely answer. But from what little I’d seen growing up in my cross-cultural traumatic identity-building, I know one mold they must be re-cast from: for a man to stand tall, it required the kneeling of a woman.

But…

Women hold up half the sky.

If she is constantly forced on her knees in submission, how will she be able to do so?

The sky is falling.

One of the biggest taboos was for a man to be feminine. What’s wrong with being woman-like? What’s wrong with being a “beautiful man”?

Unless being a woman is already inferior. In which, there cannot be beautiful men.

The sky is falling.

I realized at some point, it wasn’t limited to just my relatives. I see it in my people. In “red communist backward China”—for a man to stand tall, it required the kneeling of a woman. In the colorful melting pot of “the land of the free and the home of the brave”—for a man to stand tall, it required the kneeling of a woman.

The sky is falling.

Woman has become commodified. She is bought. She is sold. She is traded. She is told to be silent. She is told to know her place.

But what is her place? Who decided this was her fate?

Her gender, her femininity—that which makes her unique, beautiful—has been reduced to biology; it has been reduced to performatives.

If woman is reduced, then so is man.

Who is holding up the sky now?

“Few are guilty, all are responsible.” — Abraham Heschel

Survival, advancement, evolution, and common dignity necessitates re-vision.

Stand her on her feet. Brush off her knees. Dress her wounds. Look her in the eyes.

Tell her she is valuable.

And stand back and watch what she can do.

Women hold up half the sky.

For the other half of the sky, re-vision must also take place.

Stand him on his feet. Look each other in the eyes. Teach him to steward his burden. Let him define his own identity.

Together, we will hold up the sky.

(written in observance of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013)

*”When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision”
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One thought on “half the sky

  1. Reblogged this on Above the Ashes and commented:

    Happy International Women’s Day!

    The day kind of snuck up on me this year. I wish I was ready to publish my thoughts on masculinity/femininity, but alas, here’s a throwback to last year’s Women’s Day entry. ^^

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