I wrote this piece when I was more involved in volunteering for an environmental group in local politics. And though the references are of a local nature, they are surely relevant to the broader community.
The saying goes; “Behind every successful man, there is a woman”. I don’t believe there can be anyone in this day and age who will not look upon that adage and see it as patronising. Patronising in the presumption that it must be the man who makes the “success”, for in all walks of employment, women equal, if not in positions of authority, the capacity of men in employment … in capacity of management and in capacity of strength of character and endurance … in endurance perhaps even more so!
When it comes to micro-management; of household budgets, timetabling, children as babes, toddlers and school … there is no equal. When it comes to people motivators, partner consolers and networking specialists … again; there is no equal. Yet … yet … in my local government, we have but two women on council! Two women amongst a known patriarchy of a somewhat anachronistic “boy’s club”. Why is this so? Must it remain so?
A close study of the district sees many areas in grave need of extended attention. In dire need of restructuring from agriculture to something else … close attention is needed to address many social and environmental structures further out than the immediate centres of governance. The more marginal parts of the district require a more attentative “eye”, the “machinery of governance” needs a “mechanic” more than just the cursory glance of the salesman. Too many years have been lost in trying to hold on to or to reconstruct a lost past that can no longer be justified. I can remember a time when the district, in its “youth” was a thriving “agricultural machine” … I have seen the pictures of multiple teams of horse-drawn harvesters cutting through bumper crop after bumper crop … it looked good! It WAS good! Now it is gone for those parts of the district where a good season is perhaps one in five, rather than one in three. It must be time to consider moving on.
This may be the problem with a patriarchal mindset; the male is a constructor … a physical builder … he works best when there is a clear job at hand to do … give him a pragmatic problem and he will tackle it! … as long as there are not too many insurmountable obstacles to overcome … as long as there is a reasonably clear path so he can “get stuck into it” … the task will be tackled with enthusiasm and determination. BUT … once the job seems futile, too hard or complicated … he will sit down and even sometimes stay down! And this is where the adage at the start of this article comes in: “Behind every successful man, … ”
From where I stand, I can see the district has become one of those “sit down and stay down” problems. I won’t go into them here, either you know, or you don’t want to know … regardless, there are some things that need to be done.
One of those things – perhaps the primary thing / is that there needs to be more women brought into the management side of governance. The district needs to shift from a “construction mindset” to a “re-creation mindset” … not recreation as in fun, fun, fun! … but re-creation as in re-building the social base from the existing foundations up.
This requires a more discerning eye that that of the speculator/entrepreneur, looking for the quick-buck solution … a fast “turnaround time”. The skill required for such long-term vision and planning needs that gender schooled in patient endurance … the patient endurance of “taking the back seat” in decision making … of bearing, raising and schooling children even while maintaining a career … Of having to “turn the other cheek” to taunts of ANY sexist aggression … and to turn it with enduring dignity and pride. Sure, there are many who fail these accolades, but I suggest it is a failure more often born of overbearing pressure, rather than lack of character … a situation witnessed by many in minority groups. It is changing, it must change.
Where men once had sense of morality and the physical drive and opportunity to take the nation on a positive and productive course, those days have passed and we are now become weaker in spirit and corrupt in morals so that we no longer lead with good or decent intention, but rather with too much pride of gender and false virility so we have become the bully we once suppressed and we have sought an answer in more aggression rather than arbitration and or conciliation. It is time for men to step away from the controls of this runaway train, take a break from our now clumsy leadership and allow women to turn down the pressure on a society that cannot sustain such hunger for brutal power.
This district is in grave need of a re-birth … it is in grave need of a more discerning and sophisticated judgement of priorities of investment and management. After one hundred and fifty years of male dominated construction and slow dissolution, I, for one … and I hope for many, believe it is time to “give the women a place on the driver’s seat” to take this old bus down a new road …
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(By Robert Frost).