Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Bettye Johnson ©

History…tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me.
The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilence in every page;
The men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all –
It is very tiresome. Jane Austen (1775-1817)

We are at a critical point of evolution of not only the Earth but for humans as well. No longer can we women sit back and allow the men to continue as they have for the past eons. War seems to be their solution for greed, retaliation and conquest. The time is now for women to resurrect the feminine principle. As I understand it, the feminine principle is one of life-giving, nurturing, creativity and an ongoing evolutionary process. Mother Nature is considered the feminine principle. Another name for Earth is Gaia, the feminine.

In looking up the word ‘feminine’ in the New World Dictionary of American Language, I was astounded – yet why should I be – at the definition given. “Feminine: 1) female; of women; girls 2) having qualities regarded as characteristic of women and girls, as gentleness, weakness, delicacy, modesty, etc.” It really is a dichotomy in view of the feminine principle is action in Mother Nature. Nature is not weak nor is she delicate or modest. At times she is not gentle. Man may be able to harness Nature, but no one can tame Her. Now who made up the definition of feminine? Why of course, a man.

Is it any wonder that women have been thought to be powerless? The male history writers gave the few women in history that had power manly attributes. Males write history. This is why now women have to re-empower themselves. We look to Nature. A seed is planted in Her soil and nurtured until it sprouts and becomes.

Praying for peace will not work. All through the past, people have prayed for peace and it did not bring lasting peace. One side usually has been declared the victor with the winner writing the history. People from both sides were praying to the God they believed in. It makes one wonder, is one God more powerful than the other? The Dai Lama did not keep the Chinese out of Tibet. The Jews did not keep Hitler from sending many of them to the ovens. Germany did not win. The Civil War in the United States had brother pitted against brother, Christian against Christian with the South losing. Is God dead? No, it is humans acting out their greed, anger, hatred and fear. God is the observer - both loving and allowing.

Peace as this world knows it is tenuous. There has to be a more effective way for this world to evolve beyond war and strife. There must be a shift from a male dominated world to a world of women and men sharing as partners. It must be a partnership of respect with no suppression of either sex. Women must be given freedom from abuse, enslavement and prejudice. Men must be freed from their prison of being in charge, the breadwinner, along with being abusive. It is time for a change in the way we view our world. Women can impact the world by effectively coming together as a cohesive group and demanding change.

We are living in trying times. Today we are reeling from the shock of September 11, 2002. We have war in Iraq. Throughout history (his-story), there have been wars. For the most part women have had little or no say in the affairs of a country, a continent, or the world. With a few exceptions, men have ruled the world and women along with their children are swept up in the maelstrom of war sending their sons and now their daughters. Some never return home. Is this what motherhood is all about? Are we raising our children to be fodder for a war machine?
Women became dis-empowered five thousand years ago and before. We, the females, have become the largest group of people where there is tremendous bias and prejudice against. Women in Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and most African nations are subjected to genital mutilation. They never know the pleasure of copulation. Women of Muslim countries such as Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and even parts of India are enslaved by a belief system and treated no better than a slave. They have no rights.

It is interesting to note that these Muslim women for the most part wear black tents and the black color is known to enhance heat. Since it is very hot in these countries, these tents are like ovens. However, the men wear white, which is cooling.

In India, women were and are being burned on a pyre when the husband dies, because there is no room in the society for a widow. Even today widows go to a place where they can live together and wait until they die. Even though this is changing, there are still instances of a man or even his mother who will kill the wife by pouring boiling oil on her. This is done because the dowry has run out or the mother-in-law does not like her. The Washington Post ran an article regarding an Indian mother who killed her three small daughters and herself by jumping into a well. She did this to escape harassment from her husband and mother-in-law because the fan and television promised as part of the dowry by the young mother’s family had not been provided. There are many barbaric acts against women.

Women are stoned to death for adultery in Muslim societies. We can say that is terrible however Pat Robertson, of the Christian Right, is reported to have said in regard to our space program and the possibility of extraterrestrials that “…the threat is so serious that people who believe in space aliens should be put to death by stoning – according to “God’s word.” This was purportedly said in 1997. It is unfortunate this mentality is alive today.
Women have had little to say in the churches. There has been no female Pope or Dai Lama. In the Protestant churches some headway has been made like that of a snail. However, the sexual practices of priests and churchmen are being uncovered with their molestation of young children.

Even today we have women who work against the freedom of other women. I am speaking specifically of Phyllis Schlafly. In the 1970’s I worked for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment for women. This amendment was written in 1921 by suffragist (feminist) Alice Paul. It had been introduced in Congress every session since 1923. It passed Congress in 1972, but failed to be ratified by the necessary thirty-eight states by the deadline of July 1982. Thirty-five states ratified it. It failed by three states.

Schlafly was one of its outspoken critics stating it was not needed. Here was a woman who claimed to be pro-family. Her stand was that a woman’s place was in the home and women should not take jobs from men. The women on welfare and single mothers did not count. Not only was she a paid speaker and a writer of articles and books, it also, meant she was away from home quite a bit. That is the height of hypocrisy. Today she has a column on Internet and her latest is still bashing women. “Hooray for Hootie! At last we have a real man who can resist the histrionics of the pushy feminists. It’s so refreshing to know that somewhere there is an American man willing to stand his ground…”

It was these feminists nee suffragists who in the 1920’s worked hard to see that women had the right to vote and worked to get an amendment to the Constitution for no sex discrimination. Unfortunately many of our elected femaile government senators and representatives fully realize the sacrifice that women such as Alice Paul gave in order for them to have the vote and the privilege of holding offices.

Women have been subjected to just about every abomination that man can envision. In China it became the practice during the Latter Tang Dynasty (923-936 AD) to bind the feet of young girls beginning around age 3 so that their feet never grew. Big feet were considered alien to feudal virtues. It continued even when it was banned by the Manchuria who established the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In remote mountainous areas, women still had their feet bound even when the New China was founded in 1949. However, the last manufacturer of shoes for these feet closed its doors in the 1990’s.

Even today, in the twenty-first century we really have no freedom to partake in the running of this world. In every country, men are the decision makers. Few women in the past one hundred years have been the head of a government. Indira Gandhi of India was one and Golda Meier another. Queen Elizabeth II is a figurehead. She is not a decision maker for the government. There is a saying that ‘it is a man’s world’. And it has been.

Currently we have a woman running for the presidency and we also have a female as Speaker of the House of Representatives. These are small steps, but we should not expect them to carry the load. After all, they are operating in a man’s environment. We also have women on the picketing lines protesting the contrived war in Iraq and they are to be commended. Now is the time for the women to become vocal as well as visible.

No one can give another self esteem because it must come from the inside. Each woman should realize her worth from within and stop giving her power away. There are many avenues open for a woman to find her own worth and place in the scheme of life. Women can still do this and be a loving mother and wife. I know because I did it. It is up to the individual to take the first step. Ask and it shall be given. Knowledge is the greatest gift one can give to oneself. Knowledge is power. Seek and you will find. Life is a gift. Please treasure your life and you can make a difference.

Bettye Johnson ©

Monday, July 02, 2007


Bettye Johnson ©

How does a woman gain independence? Even in this 21st century, women are collectively still lagging behind in becoming self-sufficient and having the freedom of choice. There are no hard and fast rules because each woman’s life is different and unique. It may not seem unique, however under the crust of mundane daily chores there is a unique being. Just as no one has the same fingerprint, each woman has her own unique capabilities that have been hidden and suppressed.

I have no set ‘how-to’s’ for a woman. It is up to each woman to first have a desire for change. It may not come to her in her youth or even in her twenties or thirties. For some it remains suppressed. Each of us enters into this world with an agenda. Living on Planet Earth is one of the toughest challenges there is not only for women, but for men too. Men are caught up in mind-sets that are hard to throw off just as women are caught up in their programming. Some of the programming is subtle.

I was born at the beginning of the Great Depression in the last century at home because my parents did not have the money for my mother to go to the hospital. Perhaps this is a blessing. My parents were poor and we lived in Dallas, Texas. My mother did not work because ‘a woman’s place was in the home.’ My mother served my father by waiting on him ‘hand and foot.’ Every morning she would bring him the newspaper and a cup of coffee to him while he was still in bed! I grew up under a belief system that woman was put on Earth to serve man.

When I think about what my life could have been if I had never entered the Foreign Service with the U.S. State Department, I shudder to think about it. Leaving Texas at the age of 23 was the smartest move I ever made. This began my fabulous non-academic education.

Shedding the limitations of being a woman in a ‘man’s world’ has been a journey of self-discovery. By this I mean shedding one embedded belief at a time or peeling away a layer of old programming at a time. I have also had experiences with women of backbiting, jealousy and control. I realize now all of this came from their own sense of inadequacy. While working at the embassy in Tokyo, I met and married a career military man. I became a stay-at-home wife and mother. I am grateful for this experience because my husband was away two-thirds of our married life and I was able to bring up our sons the way I wanted and to be able to make decisions on my own.

My husband was an enlisted man and during his first tour of duty in Vietnam, he was given an officer’s commission. This thrust me into a position from being an almost non-entity in the military world into being the wife of an officer. Thus I was able to experience both sides of the coin. After he was promoted to the rank of Captain, we were stationed at a small Naval Air Station outside of Boston, Massachusetts. My husband was a Marine and this joint base trained the naval and marine reserves also known as ‘week-end warriors.’

I joined the Navy-Marine Officers’ Wives Club and was soon elected to fill the position of corresponding secretary. I had been in clubs before and always ended up being the corresponding secretary. I now know why. It gave me the opportunity to create and write newsletters. In this club, the officers held the position for six months. My term was almost up and it was time for new elections.

The evening before the committee met to discuss the slate of new officers to be voted on, the Marine colonel’s wife called and told me that I could not expect to be nominated to run for president of the wives club because my husband was not of a high enough rank. I was astounded because the thought had never occurred to me. In fact, it rankled within me. The Colonel was the highest-ranking Marine officer on the base and the Navy counterpart was a Navy Captain who was in actuality in charge of the entire base. He outranked the Marine Colonel.

The following morning I attended the committee meeting. I was not angry with the Colonel’s wife, because it had never crossed my mind to run for president. I just didn’t like being told I couldn’t. The meeting went well and then the Navy Captain’s wife looked at me and said, “Bettye, we want you to run for President because we think you are the most qualified.” I didn’t dare look at the Colonel’s wife. I swallowed and said that I would consider it and let them know.

Of course I accepted the challenge and the Colonel’s wife attitude changed. During my tenure, I was nominated for Military Wife of the Year for the First Naval District and competing with nation-wide military wives of all branches. It was an honor to even be nominated.

What did I learn? I learned that by not reacting, that I was the winner. This was how I handled a put-down and jealousy from a woman. I have since realized that power is a two-edge sword. Power can be used to control and tyrannize or it can be used to lead. I would urge all women to think about this last statement. Do we lead our children, or do we use tyranny? In organizations and the workforce are we a leader or do we become a tyrant? I observed the Navy Captain’s wife and she was a leader and I honor her for what she imparted to me.

Yes, there was a flush of ‘success’ from this experience, but I was far from realizing my independence as a woman. There was more to come.