April 13, 1977
12th Guardians Consult
I remember an invitation from the Chicago area, to come to a series of 3 luncheons that were called the Trilogy. The Institute from its beginnings were interested in women. Now the Trilogy was an interest about how to involve and engage women in the metropolitan area of Chicago in 5th City. I'm here this morning because of that trilogy. I was a part of a group of women, who, having attended that trilogy, saw that engagement in a comprehensive community development project was the most exciting and incredible kind of expenditure possible .
I don't know why you're here, maybe you took a course sometime in the past, maybe you have participated in Town Meeting, maybe you have been engaged in Social Demonstration, -- but you are here because of the one thing that we are doing: We are spending our lives touching, reaching, moving toward every single human being in the world, to say to them, "It wasn't an accident that you got born. You are a part of the creative process of history, and the future of that history depends on you."
We've had programs for special groups throughout our history. Some of you remember when most of the work the Institute did was on the University campus. In the future we'll have many programs, I suspect, for special groups. I look forward to working on the campus again, I'll bet you do too. I suspect it's time. I look forward to a program for particular impact for the elders of society.
The Global Women's Forum is such a program. It is a one day event in which we do the one thing that we do. Now, every woman in the world today is a part of the female revolution. It does not matter where she lives in the world; the most rural, dusty road you can go down, anyplace in the world today, the women who live there know that something is different. And of course it goes without saying, the men know that too.
Last June I was in Japan, teaching a LENS Seminar
to a corporation. There were two women on the faculty. We were
the only women participating in the weekend, which in the first
instance shocked the Japanese businessmen. But then they sort
of enjoyed it. On Saturday afternoon, in the middle of the think-tank,
one of the teams working on creation of a proposal called me over
to their group. And I thought they wanted to ask me a question
of procedure, or whatever. They asked me to sit down, because
what they wanted to talk about was the fact that the contradiction
they were working on had something to do with the new kind of
style that is coming forth from the breakdown of the family. Their
questions were, "What are we going to do with the women?
We don't know what to do with the women! Our mothers knew what
to do and what a woman was supposed to do, but our wives don't
act like that!" And this was not an amusing thing to them.
It was painful. They went the whole gamut from "what my wife
wears -- she doesn't wear traditional clothes. Why doesn't she
do that?" to, "My wife says that she isn't going to
stay home all the time anymore!" Although they laughed about
it, it wasn't a funny issue for them. So I guess what I say is
that every human being in the world today is participating in
the female revolution.
The place where we are today across the world, I believe, is that, well, we're in a transition, as Mr. Boulding has said. This is certainly true. For the women of the world there aren't any models for what this is. The women of the world have said, "It isn't like grandmother, and I don't know what granddaughter is like "
There is, in every woman in the world today, two women living. (I'm a Gemini, so that makes it a little more helpful for me.) -- There is the woman who is angry and frustrated. Angry at just the objectivity of centuries of wanting to get her creativity in, in a kind of way that has not been allowed, not been open for her. -- Angry at a situation where a human being does live, yes, does live like a dog! -- in many places of the globe. And at the same time there is a woman alive in each of us who longs for the comforts of being protected, being taken care of. It's sort of like being on a `bongoboard', I think. There are two women alive in every woman.
But the key to the edge of the female revolution today, is that consciousnessraising is over. I mean, once you know that a revolution is going on, then you don't have to keep fighting the revolution. It isn't necessary for all of the women of the world to create a battlefield. The key to the future, we believe, is combining significant engagement with the awakening that has already taken place. And therein lies the timeliness and the cruciality of a day like the Global Women's Forum.
Ten years of self-conscious research and testing have gone into this day, but many years before that have contributed to it. The women of our staff have demonstrated from the very beginning a kind of responsibility, bearing the burden and moving with a kind of style and a kind of determination that has helped participate in the creation of this day. We had, after the Trilogy, a group. On the 5th City model in those days there was a 'blip' on the model that arched out and it said 'auxiliary forces' and that's who we were.
The Institute had no idea who we were and so we decided we were that blip on that model, and called ourselves the New Women's Forum. - And have lived long enough not to be the Old New Women's Forum I don't even mind that. I think it's kind of fun to be one of the old, new women. We had a 44hour course called the New Women's Seminar that some of you may have participated in and it was a fine, fine weekend. And then, about a year and a half ago, Houston, who had New Women's Forum, decided that they needed to be designed. So all of that wisdom and all of those years produced a day. And I don't suppose you knew that you were doing what you were doing. As a matter of fact, they were really just thinking about Houston, at that point. How in the world something like the Global Women's Forum could happen, -- well, that's the way it happens!
Since that day in Houston, the construct had been changed; but not very much. It has been quite a day. It is a day about being a human being. And a particular day for women who want to be a human being. Since Houston, we have tested and tested and tested that day in this continent, in Europe, in Asia, and this past January, we had three of these days in Majuro.
The day was translated. It was like what some of you who have participated in Town Meeting know about time designing. The women there said, "Tell them it starts at 8:00 if you want to start at 9:00, so that you can begin by 10:00." The day works in translation, (and I want to say a bit more about that; I hope I remember what I want to say about that).
It's a happening, -- and if you take a look at the handbook, the program, you can see that the design looks rather familiar if you've been to one thing or another. We sing and have introductions. We have a conversation, a talk, a workshop, lunch together. I'd say that the morning is about Authentic Selfhood. And I'd say that the afternoon is about Significant Engagement.
It's an opportunity to move 'way beyond the issues that so frequently get raised in a group of women. The objectivity of the depth of the day gives women an opportunity to talk about things they never talk about. We used the Ontological Pillars for the lecture in the morning. That is: the fact that you are related to the whole world; the phase of life that you live and the significance of the age that you are; what it means to be a woman -- having been born female instead of male; and what it meansto participate in creating new realities. It's fun! And it is an incredible happening!
The launching, or, as we are calling it in the program this week, the mobilizing, of this forum across the globe, very seriously, is the place where we are now. You have a schedule in front of you that gives you a picture of the places where this Spring, the Global Women's Forum will be held outside of North America. It's rather shocking to see how quickly we intend to move out across the world with such a program. And it has been exciting to get the telexes and the reports from these places and their absolute intrigue about doing such a day.
There in the middle column, in Europe you see that we'll be doing one with university women in Amsterdam. That particular day comes out of the experience of two university women who attended the forum in November, in Amsterdam and just went back to their campus and found 40 (I don't know how many they are going to have, but the last time I talked with them, it was something like 40) on their campus who are struggling very deeply with the question of being a woman. But their questions are not, "Am I going to get a job?", or, "What about my husband?" So they want to have a University Women's Forum. A very exciting one to me, on this sheet.
You see also on this sheet that we will be doing these in both cities and in Social Demonstration sites. Having been to Majuro to see the kind of excitement and the deepening resolve of the women there who have participated in a Human Development Project, -- to have seen this Day deepen their resolve to see that something happens in their community, -- to see them risk to do things they haven't done before, -- was like watching a rose open up. So we will be doing the Day in some of the Human Development Projects, but our emphasis at this point, which is described in this brief, has to do with the kind of strategy and phasing of the Day.
If you said that the last ten years of The Day was something like research, the phasing which we are now, is about revising the program, which we will be working on this summer. Which looks like testing and going out to find in the group of women who we call the 15%, those women who will join us, as an international faculty; to become trained to do this Day in their own countries, in their own languages, and in their own communities. We are interested primarily now, and in the next phase, in a program to reach that group.
In Majuro, Ginnie DeBrum, who is the wife of the Marshallese Director of the Trust Territories, there in Majuro -- Oscar DeBrum, who is a great friend of ours, as well as Ginny, -- Ginny translated two of these days in Majuro. At the end of the second day that she translated, coming back in the car, from the very end of the island, she said, "I don't believe what I've done!" Oscar was out o£ town and was coming back in two days and she said, "I don't know how I'm going to tell my husband Oscar what I've done. He's not going to believe it. All of my life I have been a Marshallese woman, who is taught from a very young girl to be quiet, not to speak, and I was up there giving a lecture to those 50 women!" It was a little hard to keep her inside the car. Ginny DeBrum is a Marshallese woman who is a part of our international faculty. And Ginny grins and sort of giggles when you mention the fact that she'll be on a team of women going to India and Southeast Asia to do this Day. But she knows that she will. I know that she will.
After the 15% are the 85%. There's no particular romance in either of those. For it's like, you know, setting up Town Meetings, the unbelievable happening is carefully planned. It'd be great to rush out the door and splatter ourselves around. We don't have a faculty. We don't have funding. What we're about this weekend, primarily, in our task force, is funding this program. I want to tell you now that I speak for our whole group when I say that we intend that this program be self-supporting and we intend to win at that. We intend to see that it happens with excellence. It is no problem to recruit. We have not yet run into the situation where you had to get on the telephone and urge women to come to a day like this. And so you feel inside yourself that it's timely.
You don't think I'm going to miss the opportunity to let you heave a sigh of awe over this -- [art form]. Isn't it something? That comes under the rubric of winning, for me, and it comes under the rubric of support, all across our group for this. After Laverne created this montage, I think her fingers were glued together and it was done by the time -- just like that! You are looking at a four color, carefully screened, and -- I don't know printing terms -- Piece, that was FREE. (You can clap, go ahead.) That's a victory, the kind of victory that we are going into such a program with. We have a big job this summer. Make your plans, men and women, to think about the Global Women's Forum this summer.
Now finally, -- Why would we do this now? Why would we do it? I said, rather facetiously, recently, that when someone asks me that question these days, inside myself, a voice says, "Now if you have to ask that question, there isn't any answer I can give you that is going to be adequate." But I have some answers. First of all, just in terms of our strategy: Town Meeting can happen. On the other side of Global Women's Forum you have a core of women out of it who'll be in (begin) a steering committee. What do you do after a Town Meeting? It's an unbelievable tool to offer. What about Social Demonstration projects? How do you engage the women of that community? How do you build in the motivity that allows women to participate in a way, in that community, that they haven't, before? How do we help create the networks across this world of women of prestige; of women who are already part of global networks, who can open doors for us, who can participate with us, in the nations of the world.
In terms of the place where we are in history, every woman in the world today is standing in this moment of transition. And when we die, the memory of the past is going to be gone. Our daughters are not going to be the women who have the memory that any woman alive today, has. Our granddaughters will no more know what being a woman like our grandmothers was, -- that will be gone. We stand at a critical moment in transferring the past into the future. And I feel a kind of urgency about that, because I'm not getting any younger. I want to be a part of transferring the greatness of the tradition of woman into the future of woman.
And what about all the women of the world? Well, someone gave me some figures. Something like this: 51% of the population of the world is female, half of the 85% of the women of the world is 43% of the population of the world. I don't think we're going to have time in my lifetime. I haven't figured out the millions, but 43% of the population of the globe. I don't want to have on my conscience that I lived at a time when it was possible to tell a human being that life can be lived -- that I didn't do something about that.. Nor do I believe anyone in this room does.
This is not a 'women's thing', it is a Day for Women, but it is not a women's thing, anymore than the female revolution is just about women. These days the two women inside me are something like, -- Well, I don't have a reputation of being a great cook. (And I won't ask for any comments from the floor.) For the past year and a half, I have lived out of a suitcase and so I haven't had to cook very much. There were a lot of years when I spent a lot of psychological energy just being determined to "get out there and do something!" Nowadays, I find myself thinking, "If I could only go home and bake cookies for the rest of my life." The challenge is what I'm talking about. Because this is the crunch that women find themselves in, today.
I didn't start the female revolution. I tip my hat to the ladies in England who decided that something had to be done. But I have participated in all the kind of explosions that revolution has created. And now the world has said, "Okay, take it!" And now women stand at the point of, "Did you mean it?", "Are you willing?", "Do you want to do what you've been crying about?", "Are you going to bear up under yearafteryearafteryear?"
That' s part of being two women today. The challenge for women today: to get behind one another, to support one another, to create a network of collegiality that is international and that is one which sees the future as a part of society in which they are standing together with the men of the world.
This is the challenge and we have decided as a group to meet it. And you'll hear about Global Women's Forum in the future. We invite you to begin thinking now, about the next year and about the groups in your particular piece of geography, who will want to participate in this day. And at the particular moment, we invite you to participate in launching this Spring Trek with Sources of money who will send this first team out to finish the phase in which we are, so that in October there will be a worldwide rocking excitement for this Day.
I tell a story sometimes about Chou EnLai's
wife, who, when he died came with a bouquet of flowers, and on
the ribbon of the flowers were the words, "ComradeinArms".
I like that. And I like to think of the women of the world participating
with the men of the world as ComradesinArms. This
is not a day for women, it's a Global Women's Forum.