Life in the Box: Venus Marches On


Okay, so America was founded on oppression of minorities. Remember killing off the Native Americans with diseases (intentionally) and guns and making them move west, then starving them by killing all their food sources (buffalo, etc.) and shoving them into the least productive lands and breaking treaty after treaty with them? The west was won with violence.

This was all done so that we white-skinned Europeans could flee oppression and starvation and, yes, jail, from wherever we came from. So, obviously, we Europeans had to “do unto others” what was done to us, not what we wanted to be done to us. We leaned toward the biblical “an eye for an eye.” Of course. Then we had to kill off the ones coming after us from Europe.

Some of the early ships storming across the Atlantic to America were filled with pilgrims of religious fundamentalism and some were filled with adventurers, and some boats were stacked with dark skinned Africans, some of whom really died to get here.

America, the beautiful. Home of the brave. And the truly nasty. Patriarchy at its worst.

That brings me back to the 20th century book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray, PhD. It’s a classic tome on relationships and how men and women desire different things. One of my main take-aways from that book is that men tend toward hierarchical relationships—where people are one-up or one-down from each other. And women tend to believe everyone’s equal.

The book carefully denies that one way of seeing things is better or worse than the other, and it supports the belief that we should balance and understand each other. After all, in some versions of the myth, Venus (goddess of love) and Mars (god of war) were lovers, with Cupid as their son. For Venus-minded women, it showed us that Mars had too much control of our government and work places, and needed a shove in our direction. We definitely saw a need for rebalancing the equation.  

Despite its Mars-only beginnings, America’s government strangely allowed for equality and balance of power–allowing some Venus thinking into the structure. In a collective surge against Kings and royalty, America’s founders built a hierarchy that could be collapsed by the votes of the masses. The President and Congress would be voted in—and could be voted out as well. They made sure that even the most powerful leader had limits.

 

In my lifetime, voters have pushed legislators to create laws that re-balance the scales of justice towards more inclusiveness and against violence.

Since the 1950s, we’ve made sure women have legal rights, including against rape, although rape still happens with unfortunate regularity.

We’ve strengthened laws against “hate crimes” where persons of different minorities are targeted and harmed just because some violent people have decided they represent something despicable. The harm still happens, but at least it’s illegal.

1990 was the first year I ever remember a President (Clinton) saying something nice about gay people, although he later screwed up thousands of lives with “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Twenty years later, after a generation of kindly treatment of gays (on TV sitcoms and even TV news) gays actually got full citizen rights (to marry) and boy-oh-boy were lots of people fighting against that “ghastly” Supreme Court decision. Violence against gay and transgender people hasn’t ebbed, but at least it’s illegal.

We have known that white male dominance has remained an undercurrent in our society, but we thought that we had somehow toned it down. That with all these laws we had chained and influenced the he-men to domesticity. We thought the majority had finally seen the equality light.

Until 2017, when the President of the United States started undermining every single law and Executive Order and Federal Agency that protects people from bullies. The list of Trump’s Mars-dominance-based decisions is truly frightening; underscored by his House and Senate followers who are not checking or balancing this unprecedented destruction. And to add fear to terror, the President is now replacing the Judicial branch with head-bobbing cronies.

Venus is getting stomped out.

As a Venus, I’ve never really understood much about the desperation to be the big Mars man, or why that desire to prove that you are powerful sparks violence towards underdogs, or violence towards anyone. Although I do know that someone was dead-set against any legislation supporting fairness towards gay people, black people, Hispanics, handicapped people and especially women of any ilk. I mean, I have heard their protests in the news, but rarely have I had a conversation with members of the anti-equality factions. Those few conversations I’ve had don’t make any sense to me.

The concept of people not being equal is not just foreign to me, it sort of makes my stomach ache. So, this past year when the mean and violent people won all those elections based on who was the biggest bully, I’ve had to take way more stomach medicine than usual.

That’s why the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches are so very refreshing to my stomach, heart and soul. They are Venus gatherings and they sing the heart song of equality for all.

Last year, we needed to see each other to reassure ourselves that we had not disappeared, and we needed to somehow make ourselves feel better after that shocking election. We were grieving.

This year, we’re organizing. In Des Moines, all the Democratic candidates for Iowa Governor had booths set up, plus a voter registration table, plus the presence a clean water organization and Medicare for All information. Venus is re-activating and women are running for office.  

Strangely enough, this year Iowans have their first woman Governor and also a female Senator, but these women both uphold the old patriarchal viewpoint, which by the way, is attached to a belief in supremacy of the richest. Somehow Mars means giving big corporations lots of money while at the same time impoverishing the poor. Not a Venus attitude!  

The Venus women and men who are stepping up to defend equality have given me hope. And, after the year 2017, hope is what I dearly need.

Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, narrating and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process and life issues, both inside and outside the box. Her opinions are her own, and are not necessarily those of this web site. 

Wikipedia on the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus  

Profiles from the 2018 March by National Public Radio  

Patch report on 2018 Women’s Marches nationally