I am a member of a writers workshop. We meet monthly at The Book Haus, an independent bookseller in New Braunfels, TX. I’m the only male in the group, the only African-American, and I may also be the only grandparent. At our September meeting we agreed to write a blog post about a topic assigned randomly by one of our fellow authors, and I was assigned the topic, “Today’s Modern Woman.” At 25 years of age, I would have naively taken the bait. At 57, I know more than I ever did and I know the mystery of the modern woman is far beyond the reach of my intellect and lifespan. I also know that of all pursuits, it is by far the most interesting, stupefying, humbling, and rewarding. The father of 3 boys, my range of expertise on this matter is certainly dated and somewhat limited. But now that I have a granddaughter and another on the way, I am seeing things in ways I never imagined.
I’m no singer or musician, but I do love music. Great lyrics, melodies and vocal performances that move me emotionally are the one thread that has never been snipped or tied off in the tapestry of my life. The modern woman, I can say after much deliberation and a lifetime of astute devotion and meticulous study, is very much the same as the olden days, antique, archetypal woman….and much more. The qualities that ensured survival of our species for millennia are far from dead. For those who fear modern ways mean the end of civilization, it has been my own observation that the right to vote, teaching life skills, faith, governance of one’s own health, choice of life partners and economic, academic, athletic and political leadership are greatly enhancing our lives, not threatening them. Men who are secure in their own identity welcome, seek out, encourage and support the perspectives and contributions of women. In short, they recognize their dependence and shared interests as a team (family, colleague, nation).
We must be careful no to generalize indiscriminately, however. It should go without saying that there are men and women of all stripes, abilities, and ethos. One thing I feel comfortable asserting is that today’s modern woman is no monolith – not by a long shot. The fundamental qualities that ensure survival of our species remain incredibly strong far beyond the biological procreative possibilities. We’d be wise to treat one another respectfully as individuals without ascribing our own biases, baggage, and beliefs. Today’s woman is binary and non-binary, pro-life and pro-choice, faith-filled and faithless, confident and terrified, capable and dog-tired, nurturing and in desperate need of nurturing. Maybe Billy Joel was close, or maybe that’s just the paternalist baggage I carry everywhere I go – yesterday, today and tomorrow, She’s Always a Woman to Me.
Or maybe Billy and I still need to get out a bit more. Today’s woman cannot be reduced to a blog, quip, post, tweet or anecdote. That much, I know for certain.